According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 756,600 individuals employed as automotive service technicians and mechanics in 2019. If you’re curious about a career in the field, check out the information below.
We’ll walk you through what it takes to break into the field and introduce you to what you can do with an automotive technology degree.
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Types of Automotive Technology Degrees
While it is possible to break into the field of automotive technology without a degree, employers are increasingly looking for hires with some formal education under their belts.
An automotive technology degree will help future technicians master the critical skills needed for a successful career in the field. It will also introduce them to the kind of hands-on experience most employers are looking for.
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Associate Degree in Automotive Technology
To earn an associate degree in automotive technology, you must complete 60 credits. This is typically a two-year process. Prerequisites may call for a high school degree and a minimum GPA, though this may vary across institutions.
An associate degree program will provide general education on vehicle systems and auto service fundamentals. Courses include college mathematics, engine repair, electrical, fuel and ignition systems, and more. Programs may blend classroom instruction with hands-on lab activities using heavy equipment.
Bachelor Degree in Automotive Technology
To earn a Bachelor of Science in automotive technology, you must complete 120 credits. This is typically a four-year process.
Bachelor’s degree programs build off the material taught at the associate level. Courses may revolve around mechanical design, mechanical engineering, manufacturing management, drivability diagnostics, and more.
This type of degree program will prepare graduates for managerial, leadership, and research positions.
Master of Automotive Technology
Master degree programs in automotive technology require anywhere from 30 to 40 credit hours. This process typically takes around two years to complete.
A master’s degree may appeal to individuals looking to become proficient in a certain specialty area as it pertains to automotive service and automotive technology. Examples include ergonomics, fuel efficiency, or even the advancement of self-driving cars. Courses will typically revolve around this point of interest.
What Can You Do with A Degree in Automotive Technology in 2021?
Opportunities to join this evolving trade are vast, with many different career paths available to talented individuals who remain passionate about the field.
Automotive Body and Glass Repairer
One of the most popular positions across the industry, automotive body and glass repairers are in charge of repairing or replacing various sections of a damaged automobile, including frames, windshields, or window glass.
Other responsibilities may revolve around collision repair, including pounding out small dents, realigning care frames, removing damaged parts, and fitting vehicles for replacement parts.
These individuals must also review damage reports and prepare cost estimates for customers.
Tools used by automotive body and glass repairers range from simple hand tools like pliers, hammers, and wrenches to more heavy equipment including metal-cutting guns, plasma cutters, and hydraulic jacks and hammers.
Automotive Service Technician
Automotive service technicians will be the first ones on the scene to get your car running again should a breakdown occur. They perform several other jobs to maintain cars and light trucks.
These responsibilities range from testing parts and systems to using a variety of diagnostic equipment and more. Other duties range from changing oil, lubricating engines, tune-up, tire rotations, changing parts, and performing collision repair.
Automotive service technicians must also stay up to date on parts and systems, as an increasing number of vehicles are now running on alternative energy sources.
This is also a client-facing role. Professionals must communicate directly with customers to explain the work they performed and communicate any additional problems they may have found.
Diesel Service Technician
Diesel service technicians and mechanics are well-versed in almost all areas of automotive technology and repair. These individuals can both inspect and repair any device with a diesel engine, from cars, trucks, busses, bulldozers to cranes.
These service technicians rely on dials, gauges, microprocessors, and computer equipment to diagnose problems. Other responsibilities include changing oil, checking batteries, lubricating parts as well as inspecting brake systems, transmission, and engines.
Material Moving Machine Operators
These individuals are responsible for operating equipment and vehicles to move materials including sand, gravel, coal, and construction materials. Specific titles include excavating and loading machine operators, dredge operators, underground mining loading machine operators, and crane and tower operators.
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Just as the title suggests, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers spend most of their time on the road. These individuals work for the trucking industry delivering goods to different counties, cities, and states.
Duties also extend to loading and unloading goods and obeying traffic laws. Individuals involved in this line of work must also maintain and inspect their vehicles and equipment and record any issues or defects they may find during their runs, including maintenance and mechanical issues.
Though there are training programs available, on-the-job learning is a big part of the profession. Drivers can also acquire endorsements to operate specialized types of vehicles.
Companies may employ two drivers at a time for long runs to get them completed as fast as possible. Random drug and alcohol testing is also required.
Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians
Though it is possible to start work as a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician without just a high school diploma, employers tend to look more favorably on applicants who have completed a diesel technology program.
Individuals in this line of work are largely responsible for diagnosing and repairing vehicles. This can be a very physically demanding task.
These individuals are also expected to travel to different worksites to inspect, overhaul, and repair large equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, loaders, and more. They will also review operating schematics, drawings, and manuals.
Machine maintenance is also a big part of the job. Individuals can expect to clean and oil parts, keep an eye out for any malfunctions, repair worn parts, inspect and overhaul large components and ensure all parts of the vehicle are operating correctly.
Skills You Will Acquire by Getting a Degree in Automotive Technology
Obtaining your automotive technology degree is one way to introduce aspiring technicians to important concepts related to the field. Classroom teaching will cover automotive theory while lab experience will provide the hands-on experience needed for a successful career.
Check out the list below to learn more about other skills you will acquire by getting a degree in automotive technology.
As mentioned, individuals working in automotive technology must often work directly with clients. A degree can help students master different ways to communicate, in layman’s terms, complicated issues related to their vehicles.
In these instances, they must teach customers how to use new technology for their cars properly. A respectful, friendly demeanor can go a long way in this position.
When it comes to automotive technology, problem-solving skills are a must. Not only will they help individuals perform their day-to-day responsibilities, but they’ll also come in handy when unexpected problems with mechanics, missing parts, lengthy repair time, unhappy customers, and more.
Just as the title suggests, a career in automotive technology demands an in-depth understanding of multiple technologies. They must be able to navigate different types of systems and equipment to conduct diagnostic tests and service more modern models.
Diagnostic and Mechanical Ability
As anyone working in automotive technology can attest, customers don’t always do a great job at articulating the problems they are experiencing with their vehicles.
Whether they require an inspection, new brakes, or are experiencing problems with their electrical system, it’s up to the automotive technician to find out.
What Kind of Salary Comes with a Degree in Automotive Technology?
An automotive technology degree helps applicants stand out to potential employers. A degree will also communicate a level of training and experience deserving of a higher salary than those with just a high school diploma.
Certificate Programs in Automotive Technology
While some individuals turn to colleges for education and training in automotive technology, others look to certificate programs as a way to kick off their careers.
The standard credential for automotive technicians is certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). An ASE Certification signals that individuals can work on all mechanical and electrical components and systems of a vehicle.
Many employers in need of new hires will look for the Automotive Service Excellence Certification on resumes, just as individuals in need of vehicle repairs will look for the Blue Seal of Excellence, the nationally recognized ASE emblem on a certificate, on the front door of any auto shop.
To date, there are eight different specialty areas where aspiring professionals can earn certifications for automobiles and light trucks (A series):
- Engine Repair
- Engine Performance
- Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
- Electrical/Electronic Systems
- Heating and Air-conditioning
- Manual Drive, Train, and Axles
- Suspension and Steering
ASE Certification exams typically consist of 40 to 75 scored, multiple-choice questions in various content areas.
START YOUR AUTOMOTIVE CAREER
Earn your degree in Automotive Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
Professional Organizations for Automotive Technology
Apart from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, there are many professional organizations for individuals working in automotive technology to join. Check out the list below to learn more.
- Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association (AERA)
- Automotive Service Association
- Collision Industry Conference
- National Auto Body Council
- National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation
- Society of Collision Repair Specialists
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- Automotive Industry Action Group
- Institution of Mechanical Engineers
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International)
- United States Council for Automotive Research
Automotive Technology Degree FAQ
What kind of jobs can you get with an automotive technology degree?
Individuals with an automotive technology degree can land many different positions throughout the field, though each demands some level of specialized training. Job titles include general maintenance and repair workers, shop mechanics, shop foreman, parts managers, quality control inspectors, and tow truck drivers.
Is automotive technology a good career?
If you love working with your hands and have a knack for problem-solving, then a career as an automotive technician is right for you. The job allows individuals who are passionate about cars and technology to work with what they love. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and grow your career.
Can you get a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology?
Undergraduate opportunities for aspiring automotive technicians include associate degree programs, bachelor degree programs, and master degree programs.
While a two-year associate degree remains the most popular among individuals working in the field, bachelor programs are available. These degrees are most useful for individuals looking into management or leadership positions.
What is the highest paying job in the automotive industry?
Though rates may vary, sales managers remain some of the most highly compensated individuals across the automotive industry. These individuals can make upwards of $125,000 and manage the sales staff at vehicle dealerships. They are also in charge of setting prices for vehicles and creating sales techniques to better market vehicles to consumers.
NEIT has been rated among the best institutions to receive a degree in automotive technology. Our curriculum offers classes on the theory of operation and service techniques attached to the systems and system components of today’s automobiles.
Students will also receive training in engine construction and design, electricity, electronics, suspension, steering, brakes, transmissions, fuel systems, ignition systems, and emission controls.