Automobile technicians, also known as mechanics, provide maintenance and repairs for different types of automobiles. They may work on cars and trucks, diagnosing technical problems and repairing auto body damage. Read on to learn if automobile technology might be for you.
Is Automobile Technology for Me?
You can start your automobile technician career by training in areas such as auto electronics, brakes, chassis, drivetrains, engines, transmissions and suspension. When you study automobile technology, you often begin as an automotive apprentice and then move on to a more advanced position, such as a brake and front-end technician, transmission technician or auto maintenance technician. You can also expand your expertise to building engines, repairing locomotives or auto painting. You might even choose to manage an auto shop or open your own. In the auto technology industry, you'll need to be able to lift heavy objects and work in uncomfortable or difficult positions.
Working in automotive technology, you can specialize in areas such as diagnostics, hot rods, motorsports or auto interiors. Other options include training as a specific type of automobile technician, such as a diesel mechanic.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of automobile technician positions will increase at an average rate compared to employment in other industries (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics should increase nine percent from 2012-2022. However, educational training in auto technology could put you one step ahead of the rest. In May 2013, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned an average annual salary of $39,450.
Since computers play an ever-increasing role in nearly all careers, enrolling in a degree program that focuses on innovative computer technology is a wise choice. Many newer cars have computer systems, which increase the demand for those who can understand and work with these systems, as well as mechanical systems, within the vehicle.
How Can I Become an Automobile Technician?
Automobile technician programs and automotive mechanic degree programs can range from undergraduate certificates to diplomas to associate degrees in automotive technology. Online auto technician courses are available, as well as online auto mechanic certificate and degree programs. Traditional courses in auto mechanics are also offered. Programs range in length from six months to two years. Studies might include heating and cooling systems, electrical systems, framework, motor restoration and engine operation.
As a graduate of an automobile technician program, you gain critical thinking, effective communication and decision-making skills, as well as the ability to diversify. You also learn to incorporate appropriate safety measures, use special tools and perform diagnostic tests. Additionally, you are prepared to enter the workforce with experience analyzing systems, performing automobile maintenance and using modern diagnostic technology.
Though not required, certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is available (www.ase.com). You can choose from over 40 certification exams that include accident repair and bodywork in trucks, cars, school buses and commercial vehicles. To qualify to take an exam, you need to have at least two years of related experience.