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What is Included in an Auto Mechanic Degree?
An automotive mechanics technology program will assist those wishing to learn the intricacies of automobiles and how to repair them. Courses are available in high schools, vocational schools, community colleges and private institutions. Though a degree, diploma, or certificate is not required to work on automobiles, those who pursue an education in the field will be better prepared in the work environment and for certification preparation. Programs in automotive mechanics technology prepare students with the skills necessary to perform basic, advanced and complex repairs in controlled settings where risk of failure does not adversely affect a customer.
A curriculum in automotive mechanics technology may include:
- Electrical Systems Theory
- Brake Systems
- Steering and Suspension
- Internal Combustion Engine
- Automatic Transmission Theory
Where Can I Study to Become an Auto Mechanic?
The most common institutions where students study to become an auto mechanic are a community college, vocational school, and trade school. For accredited institutions offering programs for auto mechanics, students will be provided with classroom lectures along with hands-on learning opportunities. By utilizing both learning modalities, students will be able to acquire knowledge about automotive maintenance then apply those principles in a safe environment with the help of a trained, certified professional. A complete list of community colleges and trade schools offering programs for auto mechanics is listed below for you to explore further.
What Types of Vehicles Do Auto Mechanics Work on?
An auto mechanic may work on a variety of vehicles and vessels during and after graduation from college depending on the area of interest and work setting chosen. The most common types of vehicles an auto mechanic works with include passenger cars & trucks, motorsports, motorcycles, watercraft, and collision repair on these vehicles.
Passenger Trucks – Passenger trucks are self-powered, motorized vehicles seen on the roads every day around the country. Trucks can range from small commuter vehicles to large personal vehicles used to haul equipment or recreational vehicles.
Passenger Cars – A passenger car is the most common type of vehicle an auto mechanic will work on or work with. Passenger cars are self-powered and can be propelled by an gas-powered motor, electric motor, or hybrid motor. With the tremendous technological advances, passenger cars may be akin to a computer on wheels versus the mechanical vehicles of days past.
Motorsports – Motorsports or motorsport technology is a type of motorized vehicle associated with performance vehicles and competitive racing. Examples of motorsports may include NASCAR, drag racing, Grand Prix, stock car, motorcycle racing, slot car, kart, boat, motocross, and drone racing.
Motorcycles – A motorcycle is also known as a cycle, bike, or motorbike depending on the geographic region and type of bike. Motorcycles can be two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicles that can be used for commuting, racing, long-distance travel, off-roading, or a variety of recreational purposes.
Watercraft – The watercraft domain may include a number of water-borne vehicles like boats, ships, hovercraft, and the like. A boat is often defined by its size and purpose being a vessel associated with travel on coastal or inland waters. A ship, on the other hand, is a large sea-going vessel.
Auto Body & Collision – The auto body and collision discipline involving the structure or frame of the vehicle or vessel. These professionals work to design, repair, or replace a variety of frames back to their original state or change its design based on owner specifications.
What are the Different Certifications for an Auto Mechanic?
A program in automotive mechanics technology will assist in the certification process and expose students to the systems being implemented in the current generation of automobiles. If an individual completes a postsecondary program he or she will be able to reduce the 2 year requirement of work experience for ASE certification to a single year. ASE certification is sought after because it demonstrates to customers a level of proficiency in automotive repair.
The ASE or National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence provides auto mechanics with a broad range of certifications. These certification options may be a singular process or taken in clusters as students work towards an ASE Master Status. In either case, it is important to know the sub-disciplines within auto mechanics to help your understanding of the industry and better pin-point areas of interest. These certifications include:
- Alternative Fuels
- Advanced Engine Performance Specialist
- Transit Bus
- Medium-Heavy Truck
- Auto Maintenance and Light Repair
- Hybrid Electric
- Electronic Diesel Engine Performance
- Automobile and Light Truck
- Exhaust Systems
- Engine Machinist
- Collision Repair and Refinish
- Parts Specialist
- Damage Analysis and Estimating
- Truck Equipment
- Automobile Service Consultant
The most common certification within the ASE certification process is for passenger automobiles. This discipline within the ASE certification hierarchy is broken into eight parts for passenger automobiles:
- Engine Repair
- Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
- Manual Drive Train & Axles
- Suspension & Steering
- Electrical/Electronic Systems
- Heating & Air Conditioning
- Engine Performance
If an individual can pass these eight exams, he will be recognized as an ASE Master Technician, which can greatly increase the potential income earned by an individual. Certification and master status can also be obtained in other forms of automotive repair such as medium-heavy trucks or school buses.
Job Outlook and Employment
The average wage for automotive mechanic is $18.50 per hour, but can be as high as $34.76 per hour based on experience, quality of service and certification. An estimated 237,200 auto mechanic job openings will exist through 2024 with an average annual income of $38,470 during that time frame.
Top States with Highest Employment of Auto Mechanics
- California 63,550
- Texas 47,080
- Florida 45,810
- New York 34,830
- Pennsylvania 31,720
Top 5 Highest Paying States for Auto Mechanics
- District of Columbia $64,560
- Alaska $54,544
- Maryland $47,100
- New Jersey $47,010
- California $46,650
Types of Auto Shops and Specialties
Automotive repair shops come in all varieties, from the small local shop to large dealerships. Additionally, specialty businesses exist, such as radiator, transmission, and even salvage. Individuals looking for work in auto repair can pursue careers through these businesses, eventually garnering enough experience to open their own location. The increasing complexity of automobiles can be a limiting factor in opening one's own location, as many modern automobiles require diagnostic tools that are either cost prohibitive or considered proprietary by the manufacturer and only available through dealerships. Tool makers will attempt to provide diagnostic machines for modern vehicles, but availability may not be immediate.
Another facet of auto repair is restoration work, often considered an art form. The taking of classic automobiles and returning them to factory quality standards is a time consuming job, but can be lucrative, especially if one obtains notoriety for their work. Often restoration specialists will focus on a particular type of automobile, such as only working on British automobiles, or only working on Porsches, as the knowledge necessary to put together a vehicle from scratch is extensive, and requires an understanding the minutiae of that particular type of automobile.
Experienced automobile mechanics often demand a premium for service, which usually translates to a higher quality repair. Individuals looking to apprentice under a mechanic should consider the reputation, experience, and quality of work of their possible mentors. By taking the time to research their employer, an aspiring mechanic can ensure longevity in his or her career due to obtaining the proper practical experience necessary to work on vehicles and operating a business.
Those interested in auto mechanics technology programs may also be curious about engine machining, aircraft mechanics and maintenance, and motorcycle maintenance and repair. For additional information about a career in auto mechanics, check out our Essential Auto Mechanic Career Guide on our blog.