What is an Automotive Mechanics Degree?

Automotive mechanics training programs prepare students to work as auto mechanics or automotive service technicians.

Coursework covers both vehicle preventative maintenance and repair. Learning modules include engine types and parts, transmissions, brake systems, suspension systems, steering systems, wheel alignment, drive lines and axles, and electrical fundamentals. Programs also provide instruction in the use of computerized diagnostic equipment.

Program Options

Certificate in Automotive Mechanics or Automotive Technology – Up to Six Month Duration
Associate Degree in Automotive Mechanics or Automotive Technology – Two Year Duration

These programs are offered by technical and vocational schools. The primary difference between a certificate and an associate degree program is that acceptance into an associate program typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent. The associate curriculum also contains general studies courses in areas like math, science, English, and communication.

In many cases, students who choose to earn a certificate use it as a stepping stone to further education at the associate level, or have already secured an entry-level position or apprenticeship. Some associate programs require completion of an apprenticeship before graduation, and may have established partnerships with auto mechanic shops to help place students.

In both kinds of programs, the core mechanical curriculum combines classroom instruction and hands-on training in simulated automotive workshops. The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) partners with the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to evaluate and certify training programs in the field.

Here is a snapshot of the core automotive mechanics courses that make up these training programs:

• Workplace Safety – safety regulations, hazardous materials information and management, safe vehicle operation, fire extinguisher usage
• Tools and Equipment – hand and power tools, measuring instruments, threaded fasteners, lifting and jacking equipment
• Electrical / Electronic Systems – basic principles of electricity, electrical schematics, diagnostic tools and procedures, power sources, hybrid and electric vehicle safety
• Wheels, Hubs, and Tires – specialty tools and equipment, service and repairs, wear diagnostics, maintenance
• Welding –safety; equipment operation, shut-down, and storage; oxy-acetylene torches and metal inert gas; heating, cutting, and welding
• Brake Systems – hydraulics and friction, brake components service and repair, disc and drum brake systems
• Suspension Systems – specialty tools and equipment, service and repair of suspension systems and driveshaft/drive axle systems
• Steering Systems – specialty tools and equipment, steering component overhaul, wheel alignment, service and repair techniques
• Internal Combustion Engines – engine management systems, tuning software, vehicle emissions, environmental considerations and impacts
• Automotive Powertrains and Transmissions – transmission assembly and disassembly, using precision tools to measure components, using a hydraulic press
• Automotive Climate Control Systems – diagnosing the HVAC electrical system, removing and installing HVAC components, specialty tools
• General Automotive Maintenance – use of lubricants and fluids, measuring fluid levels and condition, replacing fluids, identifying leak sources, replacing gaskets and seals, servicing body components
• Hybrid Vehicle System Maintenance – diagnosis and repair of problems specific to hybrid vehicles and alternate fuel systems
• Professional Automotive Service Writing – completing a repair order, billing procedures, communication skills, software systems used to track shop work

Degrees Similar to Automotive Mechanics

Aircraft Maintenance Technology
Aircraft mechanics and technicians keep airplanes in safe operating condition. Degree programs in aircraft maintenance technology teach students how to inspect, maintain, and repair aircraft. The typical curriculum covers both the airframe (structural) and power plant (engine) components of aircraft. Students learn about aircraft metal structures, fuel systems, electronics, hydraulics and propulsion systems, landing gear systems, and maintenance and inspection regulations.

This degree field prepares students to work as electricians – the tradespeople who install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring and systems, including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, security, lighting, and computer networks. Programs may cover all types of electrical work, while others may focus on one of the four principal classifications of the electrical trade: residential, commercial, industrial, low voltage.

Engineering Technology
Engineering technology programs teach the engineering skills required to assist engineers in their work. Common classes are computers for engineering technology, construction methodologies, structural systems, strength of materials, and technical drawing. Some of the subfields of engineering technology are civil engineering technology, construction engineering technology, aerospace engineering technology, and automotive engineering technology.

Machine Shop Technology
Machinists support manufacturing industries by making and modifying metal parts. Degree programs in machine shop technology teach students about the machining industry’s production methods, materials, and processes.

Mechanical Engineering
Students of mechanical engineering learn how to research, design, develop, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, sensors, engines, and machines. These devices serve many industries, including the aerospace, automotive, medical, and energy sectors. In addition to coursework in engineering and design, degree programs in the field include classes in mathematics, life sciences, and physical sciences.

Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Heating and Gas Technology
Students who pursue training in this technology learn how to install, maintain, and repair refrigeration, air conditioning, and heating and gas systems.

Robotics Technology
Degree programs in robotics technology prepare students to work with engineers who design robots and robotic systems than can perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to perform.

Welding students learn the process of joining metals using extreme heat. They study metallurgy, the properties of different types of metals, and different types of welding.

Skills You'll Learn

Graduates with an automotive mechanics degree gain this valuable set of transferable skills:

• Ability to adapt to working with new systems
• Ability to identify and solve technical and sometimes complex problems
• Ability to read and understand technical information, follow guidelines, and conduct technical inspections
• Ability to read gauges, dials, and other instruments
• Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
• Ability to work to deadlines
• Attention to detail
• Critical and analytical thinking
• Focus / concentration
• Hand/eye coordination and manual dexterity
• Physical strength
• Safety awareness
• Spatial perception
• Verbal and written communication
• Visualization skills

What Can You Do with an Automotive Mechanics Degree?

Most automotive mechanics grads work directly in the field. Among their most common employers are:

• Retail automotive repair shops
• Self-employment – independent repair shop
• Car and truck dealerships
• Car rental companies
• Limousine companies
• Taxi companies
• Bus companies
• Trucking companies
• Fire departments
• Police departments
• Federal, state, and municipal governments
• Military
• Manufacturing companies that use various kinds of vehicles to transport their products
• Other companies that have fleets of vehicles
• Agricultural vehicle manufacturers or rental companies
• Construction vehicle manufacturers or rental companies

Some of the possible titles that automotive mechanics may hold are:

• Auto Mechanic
• Automotive Service Technician
• Auto Technician
• Brake and Alignment Specialist
• Diagnostician
• Diesel Engine Specialist
• Electrical Specialist
• Emissions Specialist
• Engine Technician
• Front End Technician
• Fuel Specialist
• Hybrid and Fuel Cell Technician
• Journeyman Mechanic
• Maintenance Technician
• Muffler Specialist
• Parts Specialist
• Performance Specialist
• Service Manager
• Shop Foreman
• Shop Manager
• Shop Owner
• Transmission Specialist
• Tune-Up Technician


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