Going to auto mechanic school can be very costly. For example, students need to purchase thousands of dollars worth of tools if they wish to learn the craft and perform the job as a service technician. Because of this, it’s important to look for ways to minimize educational expenses and student loans while training for an automotive career.
The car industry has been in extreme distress ever since GM and Chrysler declared bankruptcy. However, the turmoil from the financial crisis mainly affected manufacturing jobs. The future for automotive technicians is much brighter. The Department of Labor estimates that 110,000 related jobs will be added between 2006 and 2016. And did!
High School Auto Mechanic Programs
Those still in high school should take as many automotive classes as possible as well as do well in English and math classes. High school is an economical way for students to get a jump start on the educational path to become an automotive service technician.
As a whole, high school programs vary greatly in their ability to be qualified. Most need further training to become qualified for employment. One of the better programs is called the Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) which is a partnership between high schools, dealers, and manufacturers.. Graduates of AYES are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
Community College With Auto Mechanic Training
Not every community college has a program to become a mechanic. However, it is good to search at all nearby community colleges to see if there is one because the costs of attending a community college are often much lower than attending a private vocational trade school. This can reduce the amount of financial aid and student loan debt incurred. Community college programs are two years long leading to an associate’s degree which usually combines courses in the major as well as general education courses.
Auto Vocational Schools
There are many trade schools that offer intensive preparation for a career. Some of these trade schools can graduate students in as little as six months or a year with a certificate in automotive repair. Other schools have programs that last 18 months to 2 years for an associate’s degree.
Some manufacturers and dealerships have training programs that allow entry level employees to alternate between periods of school and work. These programs allow students to gain both the theory and hands on work experience necessary to progress in their career.
ASE Certification Training
No matter what training program is picked, students who pick training programs that help prepare for ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certifications will have an advantage. Many employers require ASE certifications for anything beyond entry level jobs. Each certification requires 2 years of experience and the passage of an examination. One year of experience can be substituted with time in a vocational training program.
There are eight different areas of automotive service that is tested. For those who want ASE certification as a Master Automobile Technician, all eight ASE certifications must be earned.
After the training has been completed, most graduates go on to entry level jobs and get promoted to the next level within two to five years. However, even entry level technicians require specialized training, which can start as early as high school.