When it comes to the person who does auto repair, the term “mechanic” no longer applies. With most vehicles having a least a half dozen – and sometimes more than two dozen – electronic components, the term “automotive technician” is much more applicable. Along with the increasing complexity of vehicles’ electronics comes an increasing need for automotive training. A highly trained automotive technician can earn a high income, making automotive training a necessity and the automotive field a popular career path.
Auto training can run the gamut, from high school courses where students work on used engines and used automotive equipment to intensive technical school certification programs with a duration of six months to a year. Some community colleges offer an associate’s degree related to auto repair and technology; these programs are often sponsored by vehicle manufacturers and dealerships, and involve alternating classroom training with hands-on work at a dealership.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, known as ASE, is a nonprofit organization that offers testing and certification to automotive technicians. ASE’s voluntary certification program provides a benchmark for automotive training programs and technicians in that it is a national standard for excellence. According to the ASE, theirs is the “largest occupational testing and certification program in the world.” Many automotive training programs at high schools, technical schools, and colleges are ASE-certified, and automotive technicians sit for ASE exams in order to become certified.
Automotive training typically leads to entry-level positions in the automotive repair industry. Those who have gone through training may begin their careers as trainee technicians or assistants, but can quickly advance as they gain experience. Those who have a complex specialty may have a longer road to travel in order to reach mastery, but their specialized knowledge will translate into better pay. On the other hand, those who do not need comprehensive knowledge of auto repair – such as brake technicians – may advance more quickly but may also more quickly reach the ceiling of earning potential. Those with the deepest knowledge and broadest range of experience have the potential to move into automotive management jobs, which involve the supervision of automotive technicians and specialists.
Demand for Automotive Technicians
Regardless of the state of the economy, the demand for auto repair and thus for automotive technicians remains steady or continues to grow. With the increasing complexity of today’s vehicles, automotive training is continually evolving and becoming more refined. Thus, a career in auto repair will continue to bring financial rewards for years to come.