Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||596,830|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.0%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||31,170|
- Many entry-level positions require vocational or other type of postsecondary certificate training.
- Many automotive mechanic schools provide a one-year certificate program, however two-year associate degrees and short-term certificate programs providing a specific skill are also available.
- Students in automotive manufacturers' and dealers' sponsored two-year associate degree programs alternate between attending classes full-time and working full-time in service shops under the supervision of an experienced mechanic.
- Before or after you're hired the employer typically requires industry certification.
What you study:
- Basic mathematics
- Automotive repair
- Customer service
- Engine repair
- Brake systems
- Steering and suspension
- Automatic transmission
Shows an introduction to the work for an auto mechanic. Created for the US Department of Labor.
Below is a selection of programs that have recently graduated the most students in the US for automotive mechanics related studies.
Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado offers an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology degree. Students have the option of completing all or just selected courses. The program covers engines, brakes, electrical systems, automotive emissions, fuel injection systems and suspension. Front Range Community College also provides nine certificate programs.
The Associate in Automotive Technology degree program combines classroom lectures and lab-based sessions. The entire automotive technology program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation and the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) organization.
Seminole State College via its Transportation and Energy Department provides an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology as well as a certificate in Automotive Service technology program. Students in the associate degree program learn to maintain alternative energy systems including those used in hybrid and hydrogen fuel vehicles. Students also complete at least 10 credits of part-time work at a local dealership or auto repair shop.
The instructors are Automotive Serve Excellence (ASE) certified. The Associate degree program is accredited by the National Auto Technicians Education Foundation, General Motors and Ford.
Universal Technical Institute has locations in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, Arizona, California and Florida. The program, taught by ASE certified instructors takes, takes 51 weeks to complete. The classrooms are outfitted by top manufacturers. The program prepares students to take ASE certification examinations.
Universal Technical Institute reports to have a nationwide network of companies seeking to hire its graduates. The institute also reports four out of five graduates obtain employment in careers in their field of study.
Tips for Selecting a School
- Accreditation: The best schools are accredited at the national level by a notable organization such as the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)
- Hands-on training: It's the most vital part of an auto mechanic training program. Select a school with an on-site garage or a school with a strong relationship with local dealerships. Some auto mechanic schools provide students the option of participating in manufacturer-specific training programs sponsored by local dealerships. Completing manufactured-specific training programs makes it easier to obtain a position at a local dealership.
- Class size: A small class size allows for more one-on-one instruction from the teacher
- Recommendations: Get feedback from local repair shop owners about the auto mechanic schools you're interested in.
- Equipment: A tour gives you better insight into the overall quality of the auto mechanic program. Look at the amount of available equipment. For example, Universal Technical Institute provides diagnostic equipment used by the dealers and manufacturers most likely to hire its students.
- Certification: Does the school have a good track record regarding graduates gaining certification from the notable Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) organization? The majority of auto repair shops require ASE certification.
- Job Placement: What is the school's job placement rate? For example the job placement rate for graduates from the professional Automotive Training Center at Shoreline Community College, in Shoreline, Washington, is close to 100 percent. Many automotive mechanic programs have partnership programs which help place students in entry-level positions.<
- Graduation rate: What percentage of students graduate from the program. For example at Universal Technical Institute almost two out of three students graduate from their program.
A Day in the Life
After arriving at the repair shop you'll look at the scheduled jobs and tasks. Throughout the day you'll perform scheduled repairs and maintain cars. You may work on all areas of a car or you may be assigned a specialty. You may also troubleshoot car problems with people on the telephone. At the end of the day you'll make sure all the tools have been put away and make sure your work station is clean and ready for the next day.
Some mechanics, especially in small shops deal with customers. Automobile mechanics working for a dealership or in a fleet garage have a more scheduled daily plan when compared to other auto mechanics and typically they don't spend much time dealing with customers.
Since more and more cars are controlled by electronic instruments, you'll constantly use high-tech diagnostic equipment. Diagnosing problems is one of the most challenging aspects of the job.
Areas of specialization include computer control, rebuilding transmissions, tuneups, brakes, engine exhaust and emissions control systems, heating and cooling, electrical problems, hydraulic problems and front-end alignment.
Certifications and Licensing
Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the standard credential for service technicians. Many employers require automotive service mechanics become certified.
Certification is provided in areas such as: Automatic transmission/transaxle; engine performance; brakes; electrical/electronic systems; engine repair; manual drivetrains and axles; heating and air conditioning; and suspension and steering. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants be licensed in proper refrigerant handling.
Full-time versus part-time: Most automobile mechanics work full-time and many auto mechanics work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.
Work location: Most automotive mechanics work indoors in repair shops. A lot of mechanics work for dealerships.
Here are several websites we consider among the best resources for researching automotive mechanic careers:
- The US Department of Labor Occupational Handbook is an excellent reference for a wide array of basic information and data about automotive mechanics. The handbook includes salary information.
- The National Institute Automotive Service Excellence tests and certifying automotive professionals. Its website provides information about ASE certification tests including test preparation and training. The organization offers ASE practice tests, study guides and more.
- National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation NATEF compares technical training programs to standards set by the automotive industry. The organization provides qualifying programs NATEF accreditation. The NATEF certifies automotive training programs in all 50 states at the secondary and post-secondary levels.
The NATEF website provides information about careers, accredited programs and the accreditation process. You can use the website to find an accredited program in a specific state.