In recent years, automobiles and light trucks have grown increasingly sophisticated; as such, previously trained mechanics are seldom equipped with the skill set to repair and maintain the fusion of wires, hydraulics, electronics and microchips that constitute many modern vehicles. Automotive certificate programs train students to inspect, maintain, and repair cutting-edge automobile systems and appliance systems. These programs also include courses in mathematics and technical writing, as well as plenty of practical workshops.
Types of Automotive Vocational Certificates
Service technicians service and repair automobiles and light trucks in automotive shops owned by private businesses, franchise gas stations, fleet operations, and automobile dealerships. Employers typically require new service technicians to obtain further education, which can be obtained from an online automotive school. These programs integrate academic learning with hands-on training to create an educational environment that focuses on practical skills. Along the way, it is important for students to develop these following skills that are in high demand, and desired in service technicians. These include:
- Customer service to discuss automotive problems and solutions with customers
- Detail-oriented troubleshooting to identify easy-to-miss-solutions in malfunctioning mechanical and electronic components.
- Ability to use various tools to take apart and reassemble engine parts, and connect electronic modules and wiring
- Mechanicals skills to work with engine parts and understand how these systems work together.
- Technical skills to operate sophisticated diagnostic equipment and adjust electronic circuits.
Online automotive training incorporates several sub-disciplines, including automotive mechanics and transmissions, motorcycle mechanics, heavy machinery, and diesel engine repairs. The training required to earn an automotive transmissions certificates covers topics like gears, clutches, hydraulics, and electronic control systems for both manual and automatic transmissions.
The automotive mechanic certificate introduces students to the basics of car maintenance and repair. Students begin these programs by learning how to change oil in a car, repair and replace tires, and address various problems with the engine. They also study electrical systems, computerized control devices, fuel flow mechanisms, exhaust converters, and braking controls. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of automotive service technicians and mechanics was $35,790 in 2010, with job growth expected to reach 17% between 2010 and 2020.
Students of the motorcycle mechanic certificate program learn engine operation, troubleshooting various models, repair, and how to maximize power and performance. Many manufacturers offer specialized training to cover warranty-specific work; Harley Davidson, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha also market a diverse range of motorcycles that require specialized training. These six major motorcycle makers have partnered with institutions including Universal Technical Institute, which offers classes for all six brands and awards financial aid and scholarships to students.
The heavy machinery mechanic program teaches the basics of automotive mechanics, but students also learn how to weld and operate both hydrologic and air pressure systems. Diesel mechanic certificate programs demonstrate how to service and repair diesel engines and work on bus and truck systems; the curriculum also covers heavy vehicle fuel injection, suspension, truck wheels, and braking. The median annual wage of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $42,630, while the median pay for diesel mechanics was $40,850.
Prerequisites for these programs include general knowledge of automotive vehicles and familiarity with some tools of the trade. A High School diploma or GED, although not necessarily required, provides a basic understanding of communication, math, and physical sciences that will also be included in automotive certification. To work with engines and power tools, applicants are generally required to be at least 18 years of age.
What’s Next for Automotive Vocational Certificate Holders?
In order to become fully qualified service technicians, automotive certificate holders generally require two and four years of on-the-job training, with an additional one to two years to become familiar with all the various types of repairs.
As a standard of certification for service technicians, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) provides certification in eight specific areas: automatic transmission; brakes; manual drive and axles; engine performance; engine repair; electrical and electronic systems; heating and air conditioning; and suspension and steering. To certify, technicians must have two years of experience and pass an exam. One may become a Master Technician by passing all eight exams. Many employers require their technicians to become certified in at least one area of expertise; certification will also usually increase the employee’s pay rate.