Students often find they have a slew of questions as they go through the process of applying to and being accepted by schools. If you have questions about your application or anything specific to an institution, visit the school’s website or call an advisor. Otherwise, some questions can be answered in a general way that apply to most programs.
What is the difference between earning a certificate and getting an associate’s degree?
If you choose to earn a certificate, you will be in school for a shorter period of time (anywhere from one to three semesters of work, typically) and solely study topics related to your future occupation. Depending on how long the certificate program lasts, you may be prepared, upon completion, to specialize in one area of automotive work or to be employed as a fully knowledgeable automotive technician. Associate programs more often last about two years and are comprised of both occupational and general education classes, such as science, math, and English. About half of your time spent in such a program will be devoted to automotive-related courses that will fully prepare you for a future in the automotive industry.
What are NATEF and ASE?
NATEF stands for the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. It is an organization that is part of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE certifies automotive technicians, while NATEF certifies automotive training programs. If you attend a school that is ASE certified it means that you will be prepared to pass the ASE exams after graduation and become a certified technician. Schools that are certified by NATEF have been approved as a successful way to prepare students in automotive training. Schools that are NATEF-approved generally teach about the same skills and topics, although the order and organization may vary among schools.
Is there anything I have to do to prepare for school?
Many schools will have certain conditions that you must meet before being admitted to their programs. These may include completing a certain number of hours of college credit first or meeting minimum score requirements on standardized tests. Many colleges require students to take either the ACT or SAT, and some schools may have mandatory minimum scores that you must place above in order to be considered for admittance. If English is not your first language, you may be required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and meet minimum score requirements. For associate’s degrees, you may also be required to take placement tests in areas such as math, reading, and English before you can begin classes.
What does it take to be a good technician?
Gone are the days where all you needed was a fully-stocked tool box to repair cars. With the increasing complexity of automobiles and the new, computerized systems that many technicians come up against, critical thinking and problem solving skills are now paramount. Of course, you need to have a solid base of knowledge as well, including expertise with design and repair procedures, electrical theory, repair skills, and physics theory. Successful technicians typically also have strong computer literacy and a good grasp of English. Math and communication skills will also come in handy. Understanding how to work with complex machines and equipment will also contribute to your success.