Are you a gearhead? Do you love to tinker with old cars and get them running again? This can be a fulfilling—and expensive—hobby, but it can also be a ticket to a successful career. Fixing cars, both vintage models and popular ones still being made, is a field that is needed more every year. Well-trained automotive technicians have a lot of career potential.
In order to become an automotive technician, you’ll need to get certified in most states. College and trade schools offer multiple programs that can be useful for an automotive enthusiast.
Here are some possible programs that can help you transform your passion into a career.
What Is Automotive Technology?
Automotive technology is the application of knowledge about self-propelled vehicles and how to design and repair these machines. This includes working with the engine, critical functions like the ignition and brake systems, and essential accessories like the tires and steering system.
While the focus in this area is on cars and similar machines, it opens up opportunities in many areas. Those specializing in automotive technology often find positions in farm technology, as machines like tractors and tillers work on similar symptoms.
Likewise, mass transit in cities like buses and trains are well-oiled machines and require specialists in the technology involved to keep running smoothly.
Programs for Auto Expertise
There are two primary paths for those interested in automotive technology. The first option is a two-year associate degree, commonly offered at a community college or trade school.
The advantage of this path is that it gets you out of school and working fairly quickly and might include a lot of hands-on training rather than spending a lot of time in classrooms. However, it won’t qualify you for many of the most specialized jobs.
For those interested in becoming a mechanic, you might not even need any formal college education. Most states have certification and apprenticeship programs that can get you the paperwork you need.
However, those who want to become a more specialized kind of mechanic may need a two-year degree. The qualifications will change from state to state, but most maintenance workers and tow truck workers will also be qualified after a two-year degree.
So why would you go for a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or a trade school? Four-year degrees may be necessary for more technical or high-level fields, such as those working for government agencies overseeing essential transit infrastructure.
If you want to work in specialty auto maintenance, such as repairing classic or high-value cars, the odds are your clients will want a more highly qualified repair specialist.
Programs like the Mazda automotive program are also recommended for those interested in a leadership or business role. They offer hands-on training from experts and may be the ticket to an entry-level position in a company with room for advancement.
Another reason to consider a four-year degree is if you’re looking to combine your passion for auto repair with a more business-oriented role. Auto-dealership managers often need to wear many hats, overseeing a staff of employees while also stepping in to handle technical matters when needed. Four-year degrees prepare you not just to repair the vehicles but to step up and run a business down the line.
So why is there such a demand for automotive technology degrees right now? Because the machines we’re driving are getting more complicated by the day, and that requires someone with a deep knowledge of the field.
Areas such as diesel service technicians, heavy-vehicle management, and body repair can be dangerous in the wrong hands but move smoothly as glass in the hands of a trained auto technician.
With many mass transit systems and private cars starting to use artificial intelligence and automation, technicians with a background in advanced areas of technology are becoming more and more valuable. An automotive technology degree takes many forms, but it can easily pay for itself in today’s market.