Enjoy repairing or restoring vehicles? Consider an automotive technology degree or certification. Upon finishing classes, students become service technicians, or mechanics, and maintain vehicles for public use.
Education & Training Classes
As the demand for skilled auto mechanics grows, more and more people are choosing to attend an auto mechanic school. Auto mechanic schools provide you with a fast-paced, hands-on learning experience that is designed to prepare you for entry-level positions as an automotive technician.
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How Long Does it Take?
The Penn Foster online course above takes 9 months. Other programs might take longer, up to 18 months. It depends on the type of program you choose and how much time you have available for studying.
Try taking classes online or at night because these types of programs tend to be less expensive than day schools and are easier on your schedule too.
How Much Should You Expect to Spend?
The Penn Foster programs cost approximately $1100. Other programs which last between 18 months and two years, can cost between $5,000-$20,000 per year.
Again, the cost of auto mechanic school varies, depending on the type of school you choose and whether or not you receive financial aid. Some programs offer scholarships based on financial need and academic performance.
What Kind of Classes Will You Take?
The courses you might take in an automotive technician education program include:
Instrumentation and Electrical Systems
This course teaches students how to troubleshoot and repair electronic systems, such as ignition systems, fuel injection systems, and emission controls. Students learn to use various meters and test equipment, as well as to interpret wiring diagrams and service manuals.
Basic Engine Repair
This course covers simple engine repair including replacing valves, timing belts and seals, cylinder head gaskets, intake/exhaust manifolds, spark plugs and ignition coils. Students learn about common problems with each of these types of engines.
Advanced Engine Repair
This course focuses on more complex repairs such as rebuilding or replacing the entire engine or transmission; this could be done by taking an additional course or by completing an apprenticeship program after graduation from a technical school or college.
Transmission courses teach students how automatic transmissions work, how they can be repaired and rebuilt, and how they differ from manual transmissions (which are also covered in some programs). Some programs also cover four-wheel-drive vehicles’ transfer cases (a specialized type of transmission used only in four-wheel-drive vehicles)
Automotive Electrical Diagnostics
This course teaches you how to identify electrical problems in vehicles, including how to test for loose connections and bad grounds. You’ll also learn how to inspect wiring harnesses for damage, including frayed insulation or broken wires.
Why Should You Attend an Auto School?
The benefits of attending an auto mechanic school include:
The first benefit of attending an auto mechanic school is that it opens the door to various career opportunities for you. You can work as a technician, repairman, or even as an inspector.
Many students who attend an auto mechanic school will go on to work in the automotive industry as technicians or trainee mechanics. Some students may choose to become managers at a dealership or start their own business.
The job market is vast and you will have no difficulty finding employment if you graduate from a decent auto mechanic school.
Earn More Money
Another benefit of attending an auto mechanic school is that it will help you earn more money than if you were only self-taught. This means that you will be able to make more money through your skills and expertise as compared to someone who has not attended any kind of course or program on how to fix cars.
Students will learn about various types of vehicles during their time at an auto mechanic school. They may also be able to take classes that cover specific types of vehicles such as trucks or motorcycles. This knowledge will help them when they start working as professional mechanics.
Some students may even choose to continue their education and pursue a degree in mechanical engineering, automotive technology, or other related fields of study.
Get Real Experience
An individual must have hands-on experience when learning how to repair vehicles. Auto mechanic schools will allow students to gain this type of experience. This will help them when they go out into the real world and start working on cars.
Work as a Team
Auto mechanic schools teach students how to work together in a team environment. They will learn how to communicate with each other, share ideas and resolve conflicts when necessary. This is an important skill for anyone who wants to work as an auto mechanic because these professionals often have to work with other mechanics on a project or repair job.
Types of Credentials
A certificate program is a great option if you’re looking for a quick way to get your foot in the door. Most certificate programs take less than two years to complete, which means they can be completed while working full-time as an auto mechanic.
The Penn Foster classes above prepare you for ASE certification.
A diploma is similar to a certificate, except that it requires more time and work (usually two years), and it’s offered by community colleges, technical schools, and sometimes universities. These programs are designed for students who have little or no experience with cars or auto mechanics, but they still provide valuable knowledge and practical training on how to repair vehicles properly.
An associate degree is also a good choice if you’re looking for more than just basic training. It will typically take between two and four years to complete, depending on the program and school where it’s offered.
Most associate’s degrees include courses such as automotive technology, engine repair and diagnostics, electrical systems, engine overhauling, and preventive maintenance techniques. Some programs may also offer opportunities for specialization like diesel engines or transmissions.
Think about it this way: people will always need cars and so there will always be a need to service them. These jobs will not be replaced by robots and they cant be outsourced abroad.
Good auto mechanics will always be in reasonable demand. Also, the number of vehicles on the road is increasing, providing added job security.
How Much Money Can You Make?
The typical entry level salary for automotive technology is about $47,000 per year, or $22 per hour. Based on work ethic and reputation, experienced top earners can receive up to $65k and beyond.
Most mechanics find full-time employment. They work nights and weekends when necessary, giving them overtime pay in the process. Typical job benefits include the following:
- Medical insurance
- Life insurance
- Paid time off
- 401(k) retirement plans
- Tool and uniform reimbursement
- Discounts on car parts and machinery
- Reimbursement of ASE certification costs
Interview with an Automotive Technician
An interview with Johnny Harrah, an automotive Technician for Lunt Motor Company. Lunt Motors is Chrysler dealership that offers both mechanical and auto body services.
Q: How long have you been working as an automotive technician?
A: Ten years.
Q: Do you like repairing automatic transmissions?
A: I do, they are perhaps one of the most challenging parts of automotive repair and not everyone can do it. It takes a combination of skill and knowledge that many techs don’t have the patience to learn and it feels good knowing that I am counted on for a very important job.
Q: What kind of previous education or training for the job did you undergo?
A: I apprenticed to my father and worked for another dealership before moving to Lunt Motor Company.
Q: What are your likes and dislikes about the job?
A: I like the work, I truly enjoy working on cars and fixing them. I don’t like the pay rate at the moment and feel I should be paid more given that I am an ASE certified master technician.
Q: What about your work environment?
A: I have to say that I like some of the people I work with. However, there are some people I don’t get along with because they don’t really seem to want to work.
Q: You mention other technicians. Do you have an opinion on what makes a good one?
A: Well, I think that there is a huge difference between a mechanic, or technician if you want to get all fancy, and a parts changer. A true mechanic knows why the part broke and can diagnose the underlying problem with the vehicle. A parts changer on the other hand will just keep putting in new parts hoping that the problem will go away by itself.
Also, a good mechanic is willing to try and solve problems in creative ways if needed. I have had to create special tools to get to problem areas on a car. A lot of other mechanics will give up and say they can’t fix a car without really trying.
Q: Can you provide a description of your typical day?
A: Go to work, check to see if any parts I ordered are in so I can finish any work that was left incomplete the day or days before. Finish pressing jobs and work on whatever comes my way.
Q: What kind of breaks do you have at your job?
A: Well, I really don’t keep track of my breaks. I make sure to eat lunch, but for the most part I only take breaks when there is no work or I am waiting on a parts delivery. When I do take breaks I tend to go home or help another tech out.
Q: What do you think your next career step will be?
A: I am hoping to eventually open my own shop where I feel I will have a little more control over my own destiny.
Q: What previous job history prepared you for becoming a mechanic?
A: I worked for a Ford dealership in the early 90s and before that for myself.
Q: What types of benefits do you receive?
A: I receive medical coverage for myself, my wife, and my children. I also have a retirement fund.
Q: How much do you earn as an auto mechanic?
A: I currently earn around twenty dollars an hour if you include my benefits as part of my earnings.
Q: Do you think this is a fair pay rate?
A: Well, the shop I work at charges seventy-five dollars an hour for labor. I feel that I should be paid more because even after taking insurance into account they make well over half off of my labor. I know they have expenses but it just does not seem fair. I also think they should provide their mechanics with a tool fund. Over time my tools can break, get lost, or in some cases get stolen, and it really hurts my paycheck to have to replace my own tools.
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