According to New York Public Radio, the average daily commute to work is 25.4 minutes. One way. Assuming eight hours of sleep each night, this means the average American spends over 5% of every waking weekday driving to and from work, not to mention all of the other destinations he has in mind. The car has become an indispensable tool of American culture, allowing the corporate sector to live an urban life without forcing those who work in its cogs to live in the concrete jungle itself. To that end, it is crucially important that those who repair and maintain these tools are absolutely certain of what they’re doing.
Enter the automotive service technician. Cars are becoming ever more complex, forcing the service techs of the world to become equal parts mechanical engineer and computer engineer as they diagnose and treat whatever ails the largest mobile asset in almost everyone’s portfolio. Those who do not constantly add to their knowledge base find themselves quickly made obsolete if not clever enough to find work that remains stable an unchanging. Until the 2012 model year, a prime example of this sort of specialization was the myriad of Ford Crown Victoria mechanic shops responsible for maintaining New York City’s fleet of taxi cabs. Both physically and mentally demanding, the task of keeping America on the road pays just under $36,000 annually.
High School or GED
High School or GED
As a professional blue-collar role, this career path follows a shadow of the age-old tradition of the apprenticeship and places heavy reliance on practical experience rather than the expensive acquisition of a postsecondary education. Still, as the world becomes more obsessed with credentials rather than talent, a move to acquire pieces of paper confirming knowledge encroaches upon anything. Today, postsecondary vocational programs taking from six months to a year to complete are seen as incredibly helpful, though still not quite mandatory, to landing that first position as an automotive service technician. Associate’s degrees acquired by a 2-year course of study are also available, though this may be seen as overkill unless you wish to be a specialist right out of the gate.
These specialties are essentially the functional groups or gross anatomical areas of an automobile and follow a division pattern much like the human body. Additionally, they also correspond to a set of certifications created by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. These certification groups are:
- Automatic transmission/transaxle
- Electrical/electronic systems
- Engine performance
- Engine repair
- Heating and air conditioning
- Manual drive train and axles
- Suspension and steering
To acquire an ASE certification, you must first have either two years of experience with the component in question or one year of experience and one year of schooling. This qualifies you for an official ASE examination. Upon successful completion of the ASE examination, certification is awarded. Given the nature of ASE examinations, they are simply not required for entry level positions as an automotive service technician because an entry level technician could have conceivably have one; however, any position above that of the very entry level positions tend to require at least one of these certifications.
A repair shop will tend to look down upon those who leave another shop without having acquired enough experience to acquire an ASE certification. This makes it incredibly important that once that first automotive service technician position is acquired, you see it through to that first ASE certification so as not to shoot yourself in the foot. To this end, making sure that your first shop contains people who you can get along with not for days or weeks, but for years, is not only good practice for mental wellbeing, it’s nearly a requirement for career viability.