In addition to basic maintenance needs, today's drivers require assistance with a whole host of automotive problems, from quick part replacements to complete engine overhauls. And the sheer volume of automobiles on the road today makes it likely that those in the automotive repair and maintenance industry will be in demand for years to come. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in the field to grow 30 percent from 2010 until 2020 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).
On any given day, automotive technicians work on the mechanical components of automobiles, including engines, transmissions, belts and hoses. Automotive technicians also use diagnostic tools to identify mechanical problems. Due to advances in automobile technology, automotive technicians may be more frequently asked to work on cars that have hybrid engines or run on alternative fuels. As the BLS notes, the complex nature of modern vehicles means some employers are seeking automotive technicians who have completed a formal training program at a postsecondary institution.
Automotive Technician Online Programs
Thanks to the increased availability of online education, there are a variety of ways to earn online automotive technician degrees and diplomas. First, it's important to do your research, so that you can find a school that fits your needs and budget. Programs vary, but in general students can expect to gain knowledge in the various automotive components and systems, including electrical, fuel, braking, steering and suspension systems. Students also tend to learn about various engine types and layouts, how to use computer diagnostic equipment, as well as how to properly handle automotive repair tools. See online vocational colleges for more education options.
Online colleges for automotive technician degrees may also have specialty programs designed to prepare students to work on diesel engines, small engines (such as those in motorcycles), heavy vehicles, or collision repairs. Other specializations for automotive technicians include air conditioning repair, brake repair, front-end repair, transmission rebuilding and tune-ups. In addition to postsecondary education, most automotive technicians need to complete on-the-job training to supplement their schooling, reports the BLS.
Students may be able to start job training while they complete their schooling at online colleges for automotive technician degrees. Since online courses can typically be taken at any time, it may be beneficial to work on both at the same time. In addition to postsecondary education and on-the-job training, automotive technicians can also benefit from becoming certified. Automotive certifications are often attained from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. According to the BLS, becoming certified typically brings higher pay and increased job prospects (bls.gov/ooh, 2012).
According to the BLS, automotive technicians should see 17 percent national growth between 2010 and 2020 (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). The annual median wage for automotive technicians was $36,610 nationally in 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013). The BLS also reports that the lowest 10 percent of technicians earned up to $20,810, and the highest 10 percent earned up to $60,070. Technicians who worked as motorcycle mechanics and automotive body repairers earned national annual median wages of $33,140 and $38,380, respectively, in May 2012 (bls.gov/oes, 2013).