• Automotive Technology

     AT
         
  • PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
    The Automotive Technology program has been specifically designed to prepare students to continue their training at post-secondary schools, or within industry. The program follows the ASE (Automobile Service Excellence) program of study task list and similarly Pennsylvania's program of study. The program content consists of classroom and lab instruction in: automotive fundamentals, brakes, steering and suspension, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, PA Safety and Emission Inspection procedures, and engine repair. The program utilizes a combination of classroom instruction, computer-based learning and hands-on lab work for an innovative learning process. Student enthusiasm is enhanced by the excitement of participating in various automotive skills contests offering prizes and scholarship money.

    OCCUPATIONAL DESCRIPTION

    Automotive service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

    • Identify mechanical problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
    • Test parts and systems to ensure that they are working properly
    • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
    • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, giving tuneups, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
    • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads and wheel bearings
    • Disassemble and reassemble parts
    • Use testing equipment to ensure that repairs and maintenance are effective
    • Explain to clients their automotive problems and the repairs done on their vehicles

     

    WORKING CONDITIONS
    Individuals within this trade will encounter diverse working conditions. Most modern facilities are climate controlled throughout the year. A highly skilled technician is valued and has great job security. Tools and equipment will vary from electronic test equipment, personal hand tools, and PC computers.

    PROJECTED SALARIES

    Skill Level

    Median Salary

    Specialty Technician 

    86,287

    Dealership/Shop Foreman 

    62,280

    Line Technician 

    43,000

    Tire or Lube Technician 

    24,480
      

    EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK

    United States

    Employment

    Percent
    Change

    Job Openings 1

    2012

    2022

    Automotive service technicians and mechanics

    701,100

    761,500

    +9%

    23,760

    Pennsylvania

    Employment

    Percent
    Change

    Job Openings 1

    2012   

    2022

    Automotive service technicians and mechanics

    37,470

    39,780

    +6%

    1,180

    POST SECONDARY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES/ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS
    Northampton Community College
    Pennsylvania College of Technology

    Education

    A high school diploma or the equivalent is typically the minimum requirement for someone to work as an automotive service technician or mechanic. High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, computers, mathematics, and English provide a good background for prospective service technicians. However, high school graduates often need further training to become fully qualified.

    Completing a vocational or other postsecondary training program in automotive service technology is considered the best preparation for entry-level positions. Programs usually last 6 months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Short-term certificate programs in a particular skill are also available.

    Some service technicians get an associate’s degree. Courses usually include basic mathematics, computers, electronics, and automotive repair. Some programs add classes in customer service, English, and other necessary skills.

    Various automobile manufacturers and dealers sponsor associate’s degree programs. Students in these programs typically spend alternating periods attending classes full time and working full time in service shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

    Training

    Most service technicians must complete on-the-job training.

    How long it takes a new service technician to become fully qualified in the occupation depends on the person’s educational background. A period of 2 to 5 years is typical. It then takes an additional 1 to 2 years of experience for service technicians to become familiar with all types of repairs.

    New workers generally start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers, or lubrication workers and gradually acquire and practice their skills by working with experienced mechanics and technicians.

    Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy or work with refrigerants to be licensed in proper refrigerant handling. No formal test preparation is required, but many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed for the EPA exam.

    Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the standard credential for service technicians. Certification demonstrates competence and usually brings higher pay. Many employers require their service technicians to become certified.

    Certification is available in eight different areas, including automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air-conditioning, manual drive train and axles, and suspension and steering.

    For each area, technicians must have at least 2 years of experience (or relevant schooling and 1 year of experience) and pass an exam. To become a Master Automobile Technician, technicians must pass all eight exams.

    Important Qualities

    Customer-service skills. Service technicians must discuss automotive problems—along with options to fix them—with their customers. Because workers may depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

    Detail oriented. Mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments or other easy-to-miss causes. Service mechanics must, therefore, account for such details when inspecting or repairing engines and components.

    Dexterity. Many tasks that service technicians do, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using handtools, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

    Mechanical skills. Service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often must take apart major parts for repairs and be able to put them back together properly.

    Troubleshooting skills. Service technicians must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

     
    Sites Referenced
    • Onet Online 
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics
     

Instructors