Mechanic Programs and Career Training Requirements
Prospective students who want to pursue a career as an auto mechanic can enroll in a mechanics program at the certificate level or associate degree level. A Certificate in Mechanics provides students with a brief overview of the component parts of an automobile and qualifies grads to be general service mechanics. An associate degree program provides more in-depth study and may allow students to choose an area of concentration.
Certificate in Auto Mechanics
An auto mechanic certificate program can be completed in a year of full-time study; these types of curricula introduce students to the field of automotive technology. Students enrolled in an auto mechanics certificate program should make sure that it is approved by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Instruction is provided on electrical systems, brakes, engine repairs and correct use of diagnostic computers. Some programs may require that students complete two or three general education courses. Students are required to test their automobile repair knowledge by working in a garage located on campus.
A high school diploma is required for admissions into an auto mechanic certificate program. Some community colleges may request scores for the ACT exam, but in general entrance requirements tend to be quite open.
A certificate program in auto mechanics does not usually allow students to major in a particular area. However, coursework emphasizes the most important systems in an automobile. Some possible classes include:
- Engine repair
- Automotive technology
- Diagnostic equipment
- Brake systems
- Electrical systems of an automobile
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.org) reports that the employment of auto mechanics will increase by 3.9% for the period 2008-2018. The median annual salary, also reported by the BLS, was $35,100 in 2008.
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Mechanics
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Auto Mechanics degree program provides students with a thorough understanding of the automobile and its various systems. Students enrolled in the degree program will learn about engine repair and performance, HVAC, steering and suspension, brakes and electrical systems. The degree qualifies students to work as full-time mechanics and will prepare them for the ASE certification exams, which should be taken before applying for jobs. Some skills learned in an AAS degree program include preparing estimates, diagnosing repair issues, maintaining shop equipment, performing wheel alignments and repairing air conditioning and heating systems.
Community colleges require that applicants complete high school or have a GED certificate. Auto repair applicants should be comfortable working with tools and have strong problem solving abilities. Additionally, scores for the ACT or some other standardized exam, such as COMPASS, may be required for admission.
The curriculum of an AAS degree program in auto mechanics introduces students to all of the important systems of an automobile. The courses also provide additional in-depth instruction that provides graduates with enough knowledge to specialize. Some of the courses may include:
- Applied math
- Brake systems and service
- Engine repair
- Manual Drive Train
- Shop safety
- Fundamentals of welding
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a 2-year degree program who plan to work as mechanics in large urban areas are encouraged to complete certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certification includes tests in eight practice areas. Some of these areas include brakes, steering and suspension, engine performance, transmission and electrical systems. Completion of certification demonstrates knowledge and expertise in auto service mechanics and may also boost career prospects.
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