In this program, students gain the knowledge and hands on skills necessary to perform the duties in an entry level capacity as an automotive technician, handling automotive technology such as brakes, fuel system, engine performance, alignment, and electrical diagnosis and repair. They may also achieve certification eligibility from third party organizations.
AUTOMOTIVE SERVICE TECHNICIANS AND MECHANICS
(excerpted from the US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook)
- Nature of the Work
- Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
- Job Outlook
- Significant Points
Automotive service technicians and mechanics must continually adapt to changing technology and repair techniques.
Formal automotive technician training is the best preparation.
Opportunities should be very good for those who complete postsecondary automotive training programs; those without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for entry-level jobs.
Nature of the Work
Automotive service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles and light trucks that run on gasoline, electricity, or alternative fuels, such as ethanol. They perform basic care maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, diagnose more complex problems, and plan and execute vehicle repairs.
Automotive service technicians’ and mechanics’ responsibilities have evolved from simple mechanical repairs to high-level technology-related work. Today, integrated electronic systems and complex computers regulate vehicles and their performance while on the road. This increasing sophistication of automobiles requires workers who can use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components while maintaining their skills with traditional hand tools. Technicians must have an increasingly broad knowledge of how vehicles’ complex components work and interact. They also must be able to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and digital manuals and reference materials.
During routine service inspections, technicians test and lubricate engines and other major components. Sometimes, technicians repair or replace worn parts before they cause breakdowns or damage the vehicle. Technicians usually follow a checklist to ensure that they examine every critical part. Belts, hoses, plugs, brakes, fuel systems, and other potentially troublesome items are watched closely.
Service technicians use a variety of tools in their work. They use power tools, such as pneumatic wrenches, to remove bolts quickly; machine tools like lathes and grinding machines to rebuild brakes; welding and flame-cutting equipment to remove and repair exhaust systems; and jacks and hoists to lift cars and engines. They also use common hand tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches, to work on small parts and in hard-to-reach places. Technicians usually provide their own hand tools, and many experienced workers have thousands of dollars invested in them.
Computers are also commonplace in modern repair shops. Service technicians compare the readouts from computerized diagnostic testing devices with benchmarked standards given by the manufacturer. Deviations outside of acceptable levels tell the technician to investigate that part of the vehicle more closely. Through the Internet or from software packages, most shops receive automatic updates to technical manuals and access to manufacturers’ service information, technical service bulletins, and other databases that allow technicians to keep up with common problems and to learn new procedures.
High technology tools are needed to fix the computer equipment that operates everything from the engine to the radio in many cars. In fact, today, most automotive systems, such as braking, transmission, and steering systems, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components. Additionally, luxury vehicles often have integrated global positioning systems, accident-avoidance systems, and other new features with which technicians will need to become familiar. Also, as more alternate-fuel vehicles are purchased, more automotive service technicians will need to learn the science behind these automobiles and how to repair them
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Automotive technology is rapidly growing in sophistication, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have completed a formal training program in high school or in a postsecondary vocational school or community college. Acquiring National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is important for those seeking work in large, urban areas.
Most employers regard the successful completion of a vocational training program in automotive service technology as the best preparation for trainee positions. Postsecondary automotive technician training programs usually provide intensive career preparation through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Schools update their curriculums frequently to reflect changing technology and equipment. Some trade and technical school programs provide concentrated training for 6 months to a year, depending on how many hours the student attends each week, and upon completion, award a certificate.
Employers increasingly send experienced automotive service technicians to manufacturer training centers to learn to repair new models or to receive special training in the repair of components, such as electronic fuel injection or air-conditioners. Motor vehicle dealers and other automotive service providers may send promising beginners or experienced technicians to manufacturer-sponsored technician training programs to upgrade or maintain employees’ skills. Factory representatives also visit many shops to conduct short training sessions.
ASE certification has become a standard credential for automotive service technicians. While not mandatory for work in automotive service, certification is common for all experienced technicians in large, urban areas. Certification is available in eight different areas of automotive service, such as electrical systems, engine repair, brake systems, suspension and steering, and heating and air-conditioning. For certification in each area, technicians must have at least 2 years of experience and pass the examination. Completion of an automotive training program may be substituted for 1 year of experience. For ASE certification as a Master Automobile Technician, technicians must pass all eight examinations.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics held about 763,700 jobs in 2008. Automotive repair and maintenance shops and automobile dealers employed the majority of these workers, with 31 percent working in shops and 28 percent employed by dealers. In addition, automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores employed 7 percent of automotive service technicians. Others worked in gasoline stations; automotive equipment rental and leasing companies; Federal, State, and local governments; and other organizations. About 16 percent of service technicians were self-employed, compared with 7 percent of all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
Opportunities should be good for those who complete postsecondary automotive training programs, as some employers report difficulty finding workers with the right skills; those without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for entry-level jobs.
Continued growth in the number of vehicles in use in the United States will lead to new jobs for workers performing basic car maintenance and repair. More entry-level workers will be needed to perform these services, such as oil changes and replacing worn brakes. Additionally, the average lifespan of vehicles is increasing, which will further increase the demand for repair services, especially post-warranty work. The increasing use of advanced technology in automobiles will also lead to new opportunities for repair technicians, especially those with specialized skills or certifications. Workers with expertise in certain makes or models of vehicles, or with an advanced understanding of certain systems, such as hybrid-fuel technology, will be in demand.
In addition to openings from growth, many job openings will be created by the need to replace retiring technicians. Job opportunities are expected to be very good for those who complete postsecondary automotive training programs and who earn ASE certification. Some employers report difficulty in finding workers with the right skills. People with good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, training in electronics, and computer skills are expected to have the best opportunities. Those without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for entry-level jobs.
NIU COLLEGE PROGRAM SUMMARY
- Program Goals: To acquire the knowledge and manual skills necessary to perform the duties in an entry-level capacity as an automotive technician. This program will prepare the student to fill job opportunities for an automotive technician. The graduate may be eligible to take certification examinations with additional experience.
- Description: Automotive Technology is a competency-based program designed to prepare students for a career in automotive service. Rapid advancement of new technology has created a need for highly skilled automotive technicians. Employment opportunities exist in new car dealerships, independent repair shops, specialty shops and fleet agencies. The program combines theory and practical experience. Students develop diagnostic and repair skills on late model vehicles in a well-equipped shop. Subjects include engine diagnosis, electronic and electrical systems, suspensions and brake systems, transmission and air conditioning.
- Program clock hours: 800
- Program schedule: M-F 8am-12pm; or, 1pm-5pm; or, 6pm-10pm.
- Program length in weeks: 36
- Program prerequisites: Upon successful completion of the program the graduate will receive a certificate of completion in automotive technology.
- Completion document awarded: Student will undergo written assignments, quizzes and exams, workshop procedure performance evaluations.
- Courses for this program:
|Automotive Technology||80 Hours|
|Engine Performance||80 Hours|
|Manual Transmissions And Transaxles||80 Hours|
|Automatic Transmissions And Transaxles||80 Hours|
|Suspension And Steering||80 Hours|
|Brakes; Passenger Comfort||80 Hours|