Choosing the Best School to Become an Auto Mechanic
Auto mechanics, or automotive service technicians, are skilled workers who have been trained to work on various parts of cars and trucks. They have studied how to inspect and maintain vehicles, identify problems, make repairs and replace parts. Careers in this field are growing, and you can be a part of it. But you’ll need to consider how to get there, and that includes deciding on your educational path. Before you choose a school or training program, look at your options and at some of the best, most respected schools in the industry.
Making it as an Auto Mechanic
If you are interested in this career it is important to understand what you need to do to get there. School is not strictly required for working as a mechanic, but it is a good first place to start. Educational programs may offer certificate programs or two-year associate’s degrees, but most importantly they provide the foundational information and skills you need to begin a career in this field.
Many employers, like auto dealerships and repair shops, will not hire anyone who has not completed a vocational or post-secondary program in automotive technology. In some cases, you may get hired without this education if an employer is willing to train you on the job, but this is uncommon.
In addition to general automotive technology programs, you can also choose to complete specialty certificate programs. These are available in subjects like brakes, engine performance, body work and paint, or programs that train you to work with a specific manufacturer’s vehicles. Certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is not required but is recommended as an important credential. Some employers may require it.
ASE Education Foundation-Accredited Auto Mechanic Schools
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation recently merged with the Automotive Youth Educational Systems to create the ASE Education Foundation. This organization accredits schools and programs that train automotive service technicians. This is a great place to start in finding a school near you that will provide a guaranteed, high-quality education. Here are some examples of accredited programs:
- Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan. Ferris State has several accredited programs to give students options. These include a choice of four-year, two-year and certificate programs in automotive engineering, automotive service technology, heavy equipment technology and performance motorsports.
- Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah. Utah Valley also offers students a range of degree types and several accredited diploma and certificate programs. Some of the subject areas offered are collision repair, automotive technology and diesel mechanics technology.
- Arkansas Tech University, Ozark, Arkansas. At Arkansas Tech, students can choose from two-year associate’s degree programs and shorter certificate programs that are accredited. They include collision repair and general automotive service technology.
When looking at schools for automotive technology, accreditation is important. While universities are great options, don’t neglect to look at local high schools and vocational centers as well. Many of these provide accredited programs and some are open to adult students.
Manufacturer Training and Academies
Another option you have in becoming a mechanic is to train to work with a specific manufacturer. Most car companies have their own programs at schools or their own academies for training mechanics to work in their dealerships or for their racing teams. For some, locations are limited to one or two academies, while others have programs within local colleges. Examples of manufacturer programs include:
- BMW STEP
- Ford FACT
- GM Technician Career Training
- Mercedes-Benz DRIVE
- Infiniti ITTA
- Nissan NATT
- Porsche PTAP
- Toyota TPAT
- Volvo SAFE
- MOPAR TEC
Some of these programs are paid for by the manufacturer and have highly competitive admissions. But if you are accepted and pass the program, you are virtually guaranteed a job.
Working as a mechanic is a worthwhile career goal, as the industry continues to grow and salaries are good. Your first step should be to figure out what kind of education you want to start with and then to find the right school and program to match your goals.