The path to becoming an automotive specialty technician frequently begins in High School. Most schools in the United States offer basic auto shop courses for students who think they may be interested in working as a technician after graduation. This is also an excellent time for individuals to start gaining some valuable industry knowledge by participating in the Automotive Youth Educational System (AYES). This organization was developed to help students transition into a career as an auto technician through high-quality education and internships in local auto shops.
While High School is the ideal time to start exploring the possibility of a career as an automotive electrician, there are many vocational schools, community colleges, and universities that offer Certificate Programs and Associate’s Degrees in Automotive Service Technology. These formal training programs are typically designed to give students a foundational understanding of the eight core automotive systems including engine repair, automatic transmissions, manual drive trains, brakes, suspension and steering, heating and air conditioning, electrical systems, and engine performance.
Most educational institutions have developed their curriculum to accommodate students who are unable to attend traditional daytime classes. This often means that students have the option of completing courses that are offered at night and on weekends. This is a tremendous help to individuals who depend on an income from a full-time job or who have a family to care for. Given the amount of opportunities available, there really is no reason why anyone should not be able to advance their career in the auto industry.
After graduating from a formal education program, most auto technicians elect to complete the certification process offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This organization is nationally recognized as the standard for auto technician competence assessment. The ASE offers certification exams in all of the eight core automobile systems as well as many specialized areas. Individuals who complete the certifying exam series for all eight core systems receive the title of Master Technician.
Employer expectations vary when it comes to certification. Some auto shops will hire a technician right out of school while others prefer to hire only certified technicians. The opportunity to start working prior to certification can give a technician an advantage when it comes to passing the exams. Typically, technicians who have more experience tend to perform better. Regardless of whether or not you have found a job, it is a good idea to go ahead and become certified. Technicians who have been certified will find that they have more job opportunities and are likely to be paid more.
As a technician gains more hands-on experience, they may elect to specialize in one particular automotive system. While there are programs available that have been designed to train technicians in just one area, most auto electricians will find that they must at least complete a general training program before specializing. Since there are many components in vehicles that depend on an electrical current, it makes sense that an auto electrician should have at least a basic working knowledge of every system.
A career as an auto technician represents a great opportunity for individuals who enjoy using their deductive reasoning and problem solving skills on a daily basis. Fixing cars is a lot like solving a puzzle. There are always malfunctions that can become complicated, but the satisfaction that comes from solving a complex problem and helping a customer in the process is an experience that few professions can provide. If you have a personality that is well-suited to critical thinking, then you should consider keeping a career as an auto electrician near the top of your list.