Mechanic College and University Program Information

Mechanics typically specialize in specific areas, with programs available through technical schools and community colleges that can lead to certificates, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees.

Essential Information

A certificate program in automotive technology generally requires a high school diploma for admission. Such programs can typically be completed in as little as one year and prepare students to become entry-level automotive technicians or mechanics.

Automotive technology associate's degree programs take two years to complete and also require high school diplomas for admission. They're designed to prepare aspiring mechanics for certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Admission requirements to diesel mechanic and aviation associate's degree programs include a high school diploma as well as previous coursework in math and science. Students of bachelor's degree programs in automotive technology should hold an associate's degree or have professional experience. Bachelor's programs take two years provided students already hold their associate's degree.

Certificate in Automotive Technology

Automotive technology certificate programs prepare aspiring mechanics to diagnose, repair and overhaul auto engines. Through classes and workshops, students learn to use the latest technology and tools to repair cars and trucks. Students usually complete automotive certificate programs in less than one year. Classes that are offered by auto mechanic college programs cover the latest manual and computerized techniques to diagnose and repair problems. The following courses may be required:

  • Ignition systems
  • Engine maintenance and repair
  • Auto computer systems
  • Brake systems
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Exhaust and fuel injection systems

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology

Students might learn to perform general auto repairs or prepare to specialize in specific areas, such as engine overhaul, tune-ups, drive train service and electrical systems. During laboratory work and internships, students learn to read service and technical manuals, provide repair estimates and communicate technical information to customers. Coursework at the associate level typically includes both classroom training and hands-on laboratory experience. Course topics include:

  • Power tools
  • Machine tools
  • Computer engine diagnosing systems
  • Creating estimates
  • General engine repair

Bachelor of Science Degree in Automotive Technology

The bachelor's degree program in automotive technology combines general studies and advanced auto mechanic and technical training with management and business courses. Candidates learn to diagnose engines using the latest automotive technology. They also have opportunities to develop customer communication and management skills. Students with related associate's degrees may earn a bachelor's degree in less than two years. Courses cover the latest techniques in auto engine repair and diagnostics. Topics of instruction include:

  • Auto operations management
  • Principles of internal combustion engines
  • Manual drive trains
  • Engine management
  • Accounting principles
  • Auto computer applications

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Diesel Technology

Students in this program learn to diagnose and repair diesel-powered vehicles and heavy equipment, including trucks. Curricula prepare students to repair diesel engines as well as transmission, hydraulic, fuel, brake, steering and electrical systems. Through lab work and field experience, prospective diesel mechanics learn to use specialized repair and testing tools and equipment. Instructors teach students to read and interpret service manuals. They might also learn about schematics and wiring diagrams. Prospective diesel mechanics typically take specialized courses that cover topics including:

  • Basic hydraulics
  • Diesel power trains and electronic fuel systems
  • Diesel steering and suspension
  • Fuel systems
  • Welding processes
  • Diesel electronic and electrical systems

Bachelor of Science Degree in Diesel Technology

This degree program offers advanced diesel mechanic training and knowledge that prepares graduates to diagnose and repair large vehicles and heavy equipment such as buses, trucks, cranes and oil rigs. The curriculum combines general education courses with classes focusing on the theories and practice of diesel engine and equipment repair, service management and fabrication techniques. Mechanic labs, shop practice and internships with dealerships and construction companies provide hands-on practice. Courses may include the following:

  • Diesel fuel systems
  • Diesel hydraulics & pneumatics
  • Diesel shop management
  • Diesel engine repair & diagnosis
  • Welding & cutting
  • Diesel electronic systems

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology

This program prepares each student for an entry-level position as an aircraft mechanic, also known as an airframe mechanic. Courses, shop work and field experience train students to take exams for Airframe or Powerplant Certification, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. Students learn to repair aircraft mechanical and electrical systems as well as the hull and metal sheeting. Instructors also train students to perform routine inspections required by the FAA. Classes familiarize students with the design and function of aircraft systems. Classes may include:

  • Hydraulic systems
  • Turbine engines
  • Airframe systems
  • Fittings and fluid lines
  • Instrument systems
  • Navigation and communication systems

Popular Career Options

Graduates of automotive technology certificate programs have several job options. These choices may include the following:

  • Auto body technician
  • Powertrain technician
  • Engine repair mechanic
  • Collision repair technician
  • Line mechanic
  • Alignment mechanic
  • Tune-up mechanic

College and university auto mechanic degree programs prepare students for both service and management careers. These include the following:

  • Service manual developer
  • Fleet manager
  • Auto service manager
  • Automotive school instructor
  • Auto manufacturer sales representative

Entry-level jobs providing a variety of services are available to people who hold a diesel mechanic degree from a 2-year college. These jobs include the following:

  • Heavy duty truck mechanic
  • Parts manager
  • Diesel vehicle and equipment salesperson

Graduates of bachelor's degree diesel mechanic programs may pursue careers in service, management and sales. Possible jobs include:

  • Service manager
  • Diesel mechanic
  • Diesel shop foreman
  • Repair shop manager
  • Diesel equipment manager
  • Fleet manager

People who hold an associate's degree in aviation maintenance technology may pursue entry-level jobs in several areas. Here are some examples:

  • Airframe mechanic
  • Power plant technician
  • Aviation electronics technician
  • Aviation maintenance technician
  • Aircraft mechanic

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, projected that the supply of jobs for auto mechanics and service technicians would grow by 5% between 2014 and 2024. The increase was about as fast as average for all occupations. The median hourly salary for auto mechanics and technicians was $18.20 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

Those who hold an associate's degree in aviation maintenance may pursue a bachelor's degree in the field. Graduates of 4-year aviation mechanic college programs may increase their ability to compete for top aviation repair positions and eventually move into management.

Aspiring mechanics can look into certificate, associate's, and bachelor's programs offered in various areas of automotive and engine technology.

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