Going to school to earn a diploma, certificate, or degree is one of the most important decisions you can make. It will help you embark on a new career or advance in your current one, it will increase your lifetime earnings potential, and it will give you increased confidence both on and off the job. With the many types of schools and programs available, it can be tough to know which one will best meet your needs and get you where you want to go. Here are some main factors you should consider when choosing an automotive school.
Whether you are interested in a vocational training program or a degree from a community college, the most important factor when choosing an automotive school is whether or not it is accredited. Accreditation means that the school has been evaluated by a third party and conforms to certain quality standards. To be sure you are getting the best possible education, make sure that the school you choose is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the certification agency for the automotive service industry. Check with the school you are considering to make sure that the instructors who will be teaching your classes are certified by the ASE.
Current Technology and Resources
Automotive technology is changing rapidly, and what’s under the hood is starting to look more like a computer than a traditional engine. When you are exploring different schools, ask if you can tour the facilities. Make sure that the tools, equipment, and other resources you will be using reflect the most current car technology.
Especially in a diploma or certificate program, a large part of your training should involve getting hands-on experience working with engines and other automotive systems. Your classroom learning is important, but for both your job prospects and your eligibility for ASE certification, practical experience is absolutely essential.
Type of Program
You need to decide if you want to earn a career-focused diploma or certificate or a full associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Some schools, particularly community colleges, offer a variety of programs, so you can always start off in a diploma or certificate program and later use your credits toward a degree.
Job Placement Services
Ask about the job placement services your school has available. Ideally, you should pick one that has a good relationship with local garages and repair shops and a high rate of placing graduates in entry-level positions.
Of course, you will also need to evaluate cost, schedule, length of the program, and other aspects of any school you are considering, but these six factors will help you identify the best automotive school to meet your current and future needs.