You are ready to take the plunge and enroll in an automotive school. But should you go to a vocational school or a community college? What other types of schools are there? Can you earn your automotive technology certificate or degree online? This article briefly reviews the different types of schools that offer automotive service technology programs.
Technical schools are career-focused institutions that offer job training in certain areas. These institutions are also known as vocational or trade schools. The goal of automotive technical programs is to prepare students to enter the workforce as quickly as possible, and many schools offer programs to prepare students to take the ASE certification exams. Because these schools are dedicated to job training, most of the courses focus specifically on job skills, and upon graduation students receive a certificate or diploma.
Community colleges are two-year colleges that award associate’s degrees and sometimes professional certificates. Because community colleges grant degrees, their programs are more well-rounded than those found at technical colleges. For example, in addition to their automotive coursework, students take math, science, history, and English. These credits can later be transferred into a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year university.
Some car manufacturers, like Ford and Toyota, have their own training programs, which are usually offered through a vocational school or community college. These programs are sponsored by local dealerships and the students in them have the opportunity to work at the dealerships for practice. There are pros and cons to programs like this—on the plus side, you will become an expert in a certain car manufacturer’s products; on the minus side, you will not learn as much general information that applies to all makes of cars.
One of the biggest questions today is whether or not you can earn your degree or certificate online. In many cases the answer is “yes,” but automotive school is not one of them, at least not entirely. One of the main components of this career field is hands-on experience, and it is essential to any training program in this field. That’s not to say that you can’t take some of your courses online—there are many schools that have an online option for their academic courses. But in order for you to really learn about cars, you need to work on them, so even if you take some classes online, make sure that the school you choose also has a way for you to gain practical experience, such as through an externship.
The type of school that is right for you depends on your goals, your schedule, and other factors. If you want to start working as soon as possible, a technical school may be your best choice. For a degree that can lead to more options in the future, a community college is the top bet. So spend some time figuring out what you need and researching the options available to you.
Gateway Technical College. Automotive training programs.
Johnson Community College. Automotive technology AAS.