Auto repair is one of those fields that will always need professionals. No matter how much DIY car work you have done on your vehicle in the past, there is a point where, for most people, an auto repair shop needs to take over. Whether or not you have a lot of experience fixing your own car, entering the auto repair field can be an attractive prospect if you’re looking for a new career direction.
As with any line of work that you could technically learn on your own, there is a debate about whether formal schooling is better than studying cars on your own and getting an entry-level job in a repair shop. For cars, at least, the answer is clear: Formal schooling generally offers more benefits than jumping right into the work world.
A Great Reason to Start With Formal Schooling
A big part of starting with formal schooling for auto repair is the eventual need for certain certifications, mainly ASE certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. These are in addition to any degree you would get from schooling. People who want this certification need to have a form of formal training under their belt, be it an apprenticeship or schooling. Formal schooling is often the fastest and easiest way to get all of the knowledge that you’d need to start on-the-job experience and to eventually take the test for the ASE certification.
Could you technically work as an auto repair mechanic without the certification? Possibly, but the ASE name signals to customers that you know what you’re doing and have passed quality standards set by a leading national organization for car repair. You really want that designation if you plan to make a living repairing vehicles. In other words, you could skip school and the certification, but then a lot of customers could skip you and head for the shop with ASE-certified mechanics.
Why an Associate’s Program Over an Apprenticeship?
You now know that’s it’s typically better to head to a school or auto apprenticeship for your initial training. This also means you now have to choose which one of those training programs you’ll enter.
Apprenticeships can be intensive, which is great, but an actual school program, for an associate’s degree, could be even better. These programs let you learn about and focus on specific parts and problems such as brakes, giving you an in-depth look at what could happen and how you would fix or maintain the parts.
For example, when you take a class on brakes, you will focus on brakes. You will not learn something about brakes and then be called away to do an oil change. This focus for each part of a car gives you a very solid background that lets you easily adapt to working at your first post-class auto service jobs.
Which is Faster: School or an Apprenticeship?
Schooling is also a lot faster than many apprenticeship programs. An associate’s degree might take a couple of years (or faster if you choose an accelerated course of study), but an apprenticeship could last four years. Clearly, a school training program is a faster route to the real world of auto repair jobs.
Schooling also lets you get a glimpse of areas you wouldn’t normally work in until you’d been in the auto service business for several years. You could learn not only about cars themselves, but also about subjects such as service management and accounting.
Longevity in the Automotive Field
As for why you should go through this at all: cars, figuratively, aren’t going anywhere. People continue to drive even if they like public transit, and with rideshare services booming, more people will need maintenance done on those cars to keep them running well.
Companies also need car repairs and service done on professional fleets. What’s more, as temperatures rise in the summer and more areas experience longer heatwaves, car tires, batteries, and other parts that can degrade in heat will need more frequent repair. That’s going to call for more auto technicians in the future.
Are You Ready to Begin your Automotive Journey?
The Advanced Technology Institute’s Associate in Occupational Science in Automotive Technology with Service Management offers an accelerated course in all aspects of car repair, from basic parts to service management. This thorough program gets you started on the path toward ASE certification and a potentially long-lasting career. Connect with a friendly admissions advisor today to learn more!