Auto Technician Certification and Certificate Program Information
Read detailed information about certificate-level studies and professional certification for those seeking a career as an auto technician. Learn about admission requirements and what courses are taught in this type of program. Get details about auto technician career information, such as job growth statistics and average wages.
Auto technicians, also referred to as mechanics, are responsible for repairing and maintaining cars and trucks. Many auto technicians get their training through a certificate program in automotive technology, which prepares graduates for work as entry-level mechanics. Many of the classes are taught in a classroom environment; however, students primarily learn about automotive mechanics by gaining hands-on experience in an actual garage located on campus. Training is provided on maintaining and repairing various components of a car and truck, including the engine, electrical systems, brakes, steering and HVAC systems.
Problem solving is a key component of the certificate program, and students learn to troubleshoot and think about the various problems that could affect a specific mechanical part or system. Almost all automobiles are now equipped with an on-board computer that provides diagnostic information. Instruction is provided on how to interpret the information provided by these computers. A certificate in automotive technology program can be completed in one year or less of full-time study. Industry certification is also important for the auto technician profession and is administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
A standardized exam, such as the COMPASS test, may be requested to test an applicant's competency in reading, writing and math. Also, many community colleges require that applicants have at least a GED certificate or a high school diploma.
A certificate program in automotive technology introduces all of the major automotive systems. Some courses may also cover garage safety. Typically course topics include:
- Electrical theory
- Safety issues
- Suspension and steering
- Engine repair and maintenance
- Module-based automotive repairs
- Power train repairs
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), auto service technicians and mechanics can expect to see employment growth of 17% for the period from 2010 to 2020. The median annual salary in May 2012 of an auto service technician and mechanic was reported as being $36,610.
Continuing Education Information
Many graduates of a certificate program in automotive technology pursue an associate's degree. The associate's degree provides students with a more thorough introduction to the field of automotive technology and qualifies graduates to work in advanced auto technician roles. However, before applying for work, ASE certification is strongly recommended.
ASE certification is offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and can be earned in one (or more) of eight specialization areas. Areas include brake systems, suspension and steering and engine repair. Auto technicians must pass at least one test and provide proof of two or more years of work experience to receive certification. This certification must be renewed every five years through additional testing.
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