Although some employers hire transmission repair technicians straight out of high school, most employers prefer applicants with postsecondary education in the form of an associate's or bachelor's degree in automotive technology, which provides hands-on practice with automotive equipment. Accreditation for these programs is given through the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.
Transmission repair technicians need extensive knowledge about computer controls, since automotive transmissions contain complicated technology systems. They also need to be able to diagnose transmission problems quickly and accurately, as well as possessing strong mathematical and communication skills.
Some high schools are members of the Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) and work directly with auto manufacturers and dealers to mentor students.
Associate Degree Programs
In a 2-year associate's degree program in automotive technology, students learn operation, theory, and servicing techniques of numerous automotive systems. Students take classes in both automatic and manual transmission fundamentals and repair. Certain community colleges and technical schools work directly with automotive manufacturers and car dealers, allowing students to spend 6-12 weeks attending classes and working full-time in service departments. Other courses might include:
- Introduction to welding
- Electrical and electronic systems
- Auto transmission/transaxle
- Advanced chassis systems
Bachelor Degree Programs
Most bachelor's degree programs in automotive technology are considered a 2+2 major, which means students complete the coursework for an associate's degree and then continue on with a bachelor's degree. Instead of the bachelor's program taking four years, it only takes an additional two years after the associate's degree is achieved. Courses that are offered in the final four semesters of baccalaureate degree programs include advanced automotive technologies, safety management, customer service, and automotive technical training. Other course topics might include:
- Introduction to safety management and hazardous materials
- Advanced automotive technologies
- Advanced electronic presentations
- Developing team leadership skills
Many employers require that transmission repair technicians possess at least 2-4 years of automotive mechanical diagnosis, problem-solving, and repair experience. Graduates of postsecondary programs may already have work experience, but most employers prefer an additional year of employment and generally seek applicants with certification through the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Additionally, all candidates must own a current driver's license.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, states that automotive service technicians and mechanics jobs will grow by 5% from 2014 to 2024.
ASE (Automative Service Excellence Certification) is geared toward all automotive service technicians, including those who work on transmissions. Although this certification is not mandatory, according to the BLS, most service technicians in large, urban areas possess certification. Applicants require two years of relevant full-time work experience, although some high school and postsecondary courses can be substituted for one year's worth of work experience. Once candidates fulfill the work requirements, they can register for the written examination, which is called the A2 examination for the automotive and light truck, including automatic transmissions and transaxles, series. Recertification must be completed every five years.
Technical seminars are the most common type of training opportunities for transmission repair technicians. Professional organizations sponsor day-long technical seminars at locations all over the country, where technicians can visit with transmission manufacturers and learn about advances to technology. The organizations also provide seminar manuals for technicians to take home for reference purposes. Other technical seminars feature speakers from car manufacturers who discuss updates to their machinery.
Automotive technology continues to advance, and transmission repair technicians must stay current with any updates. If technicians are ASE certified, they must be retested every five years, ensuring that they are up-to-date with new changes. Additionally, the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Inc. (NATEF), which is a non-profit organization, offers continuing automotive service education courses.
Aspiring transmission repair technicians require an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, depending on the employer and must be retested every five years to maintain certification.