In the automotive services industry, there are two main types of degrees: automotive service technology and automotive service management. Some schools offer only one type of program, but many schools, in particular community colleges, offer both, so it is important that you understand the difference between them.
Automotive service technology (or sometimes just automotive technology) is the basic type of credential most people think of—this is where you learn to inspect and test car parts and systems, perform basic maintenance, and do repair work. If you are looking for a hands-on career as an automotive service technician or mechanic, this is the credential for you. There are diplomas, certificates, and associate’s degrees available in this field.
Automotive service management is a more business-focused degree designed for students who are interested in supervisory and management positions in the car service industry. Managers who specialize in automotive service are becoming more in demand as both the industry and the size of dealerships and repair shops grows. People who work as managers spend less time under the hood than do repair technicians; instead, their daily routine involves project management, human resources management, budgeting, customer service, and related activities.
Degrees in automotive service management are available at both the associate’s and bachelor’s degree levels. The difference between the degrees has to do with the level of the courses. In general, associate’s degrees take about two years to complete, while bachelor’s degrees, which require more advanced coursework, take about four.
The curriculum you follow will depend on the school, but students in both programs usually take a combination of general education courses (math, English, and so on), automotive technology courses (similar to those in an automotive service technology program), and business courses (management, accounting, computer courses, etc.). For example, if a school offers programs in both automotive service technology and automotive service management, students may take the same courses in the first year and then in the second year split into their respective tracks.
Most students do not get their start in the automotive service field by entering a management program. Some may, but a more common career path is to start working as an automotive service technician and later pursue a management position. Note that many managers in all industries, including in repair shops, have master’s degrees. So a degree in automotive services management is best considered a jumping-off point for further educational and career endeavors.
If you are already working in the automotive services industry and you are interested in a promotion, consider enrolling in an automotive service management degree program. If you already have a diploma, certificate, or degree in automotive technology, you may be able to earn your new degree in just a couple of years.
White Mountains Community College. Automotive service management degree.
New England Institute of Technology. Automotive service management technology.