In the old days, almost anyone could fix a car. You just popped the hood and everything was right there: the spark plugs, belts, radiator, oil pump, and other engine components were in plain sight. Cars were simple and easy to repair, and you could spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon getting the old Chevy Camaro to purr like a kitten (or roar like a lion, if that was your preference).
Not now! Today's vehicles have computers and sophisticated power systems including flex-fuels and gas-electric hybrids. Open the hood and you might not see much that the layman would recognize. Not many people can fix their own cars these days because vehicles are just too complex. They have to bring their car to a qualified technician.
Auto service technicians must have a broad knowledge of the design and interaction of vehicles' greater complex components. They must be able to work with both old-fashioned hand tools and advanced electronic diagnostic equipment. They must be able to quickly learn new technologies and keep up with the rapid rate of change in the auto industry.
Good Career Prospects
If you are a qualified auto, truck, or diesel technician, you may have good career prospects. According to the US Government Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS), from 2008 through 2018 automotive service technician and mechanic job opportunities are expected to be good for those who have post-secondary school automotive training.
Total job openings should increase because of overall employment growth, and because many skilled technicians are expected to retire. Job opportunities for auto technicians and mechanics are expected to be very good for those who complete post-secondary automotive training programs and who earn ASE certification.
Get the Right Training
But you can't just walk into a career as an auto service technician. Getting the right training can be important. Even for entry-level jobs, certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has become a standard credential for automotive service technicians. To prepare for certification, many training authorities recommend that students complete a formal training program in high school or in a post-secondary vocational school or community college.
You may want to start out with a service specialty. Certification can be obtained in eight different areas of automotive service, including engine repair, suspension and steering, brake systems, electrical systems, and heating and air-conditioning. Once you've launched your career, you may find that employers often send their technicians to manufacturer-sponsored technician training programs to improve or maintain their skills. Sometimes technicians focus on one brand of automobile or truck. Manufacturers also send experts to visit repair shops to provide brand-specific training.
How to Find an Automotive Training School
Here's how to get started. Log onto a reputable college directory website such as the one below. By using your ZIP code, you'll be able to get free information about automotive training schools in your area. Compare schools and find out which ones offer flexible schedules, financial aid for those who qualify, manufacturer sponsorship, and career guidance services. Then contact the schools that work for you. In just a few minutes you could be on your way to training for a rewarding career as an automotive technician.