One of the main aspects of a trade like automotive services is hands-on experience. As a technician or mechanic, you will spend your days inspecting, maintaining, repairing, and sometimes disassembling and reassembling engines and other car systems. These are very sophisticated pieces of machinery, and the only way to become competent is to get plenty of experience. In addition, to be eligible for ASE certification, you will need to have at least two years of experience (or one year of experience plus one year of education), so getting that hands-on training is essential. Here are some top ways you can gain practical experience in the automotive service industry.
Automotive School Laboratory
Vocational schools and community colleges that offer certificates and degrees in automotive services usually have laboratories where students practice working on cars. As you explore your options for training programs, make sure that the schools you are considering have modern labs with up-to-date equipment and that the curriculum offers plenty of opportunities for you to practice.
Some automotive training programs have externships where students work for a few weeks to a few months in a repair shop as the last part of their education. If possible, pick a school that has an externship program—this is also a great way to land your first job.
An apprenticeship is a paid program where you get hands-on training for a career. It is like a job and a school rolled into one—you will spend your time learning directly from a skilled tradesperson. Apprenticeships involve at least 2000 hours (one full year) of training, though they can be longer. Many states have apprenticeship programs, which you need to apply for and be accepted to. Alternatively, you might be able to arrange your own apprenticeship at a local garage. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort to learn, a garage owner may be willing to take you on as a trainee technician, especially if you are also enrolled in a formal education program.
Your Own Car
Cars are not toys, but there are many services you can learn to perform on your own or with the help of an experienced friend or mentor. For example, you can change your own oil or spark plugs. Don’t just dive into one of these activities, though. It can be dangerous, and you might damage your car. Practicing on your own car is recommended only after you have taken some courses or received another type of training, and only under the supervision of someone more experienced in the trade.
Auto mechanics is manual work, and the only way to learn how to do it is to get right in there and give it a shot. While you’re learning, look for as many opportunities to practice as possible.
Apprenticeship Washington. What is an apprenticeship?