Certificate vs. Associate Degree in Automotive Technology

There are many different types of training you can get in automotive technology. Here we look at a certificate vs. associate degree in automotive technology.

Two Types of Auto Degree: Certificate vs. Associate Degree

Automotive technology is the spark that fuels the economy and the way life. Advancements in this field over the last 10 years have led to the production of sophisticated, more specialized and complicated vehicles.

This means that there are more careers in the automotive industry than ever. However, to take advantage of these exciting careers you need to be ready to learn and gain the skills required for these jobs.

Today’s technicians need to possess high-level skills and knowledge to service, repair and maintain the increasingly complex systems. Technicians/Mechanics need to be competent in both highly sophisticated systems, and the traditional mechanical systems.

If you’re thinking of starting a career as an auto mechanic, or expanding your skills to attain higher-level positions, consider getting yourself a certificate or associate degree in automotive technology. Before you begin, it’s important to know the difference between a certificate and associate degree in auto mechanics. So, let’s first define them both then discuss the differences so you can pursue the one that suits your needs best.

What is a certificate program?

A certificates program is a short-term program perfect for students who are looking to boost their current skills or work with professionals to advance their careers. Most certificates are tickets into a diploma for associate or bachelor’s degrees. Therefore, they serve as a great starting point for students looking to start associate programs or technical diplomas. Auto mechanic certificates target to train students in basic auto repair, with the focus being on relatively narrow topics like air conditioning repair, suspension repair, brake maintenance, and engine performance.

Also, they help students to pass ASE certification for specific tests such as agricultural equipment technician, alternative fuels technician or diesel technician. Students pursuing certificates in auto mechanics gain practical knowledge and experience on automobiles after completing the introductory classes. Certificate programs place emphasis on practical skill development because it applies to troubleshooting and fixing mechanical and electrical issues with vehicles. Along with that, students get to understand the theoretical aspects of automotive technology, so they can explain how automotive function when they communicate with clients about necessary repairs.

What is an Associate degree?

Associate degrees combine technical hands on-skills with general studies courses such as sciences, math and social sciences.

An associate degree program provides students with hands-on-training in industry-standard facilities by professionally trained supervisors including; how to diagnose, repair and service of various models of vehicles, using current equipment, troubleshooting. Along with these are some soft skills that are taught such as problem-solving skills and customer support.

With the help of the program, students get to learn about automotive brake service, engine performance, climate control and more. The course curriculum focuses on the modern automobile and their advanced electronic systems.

Apart from equipping students with the fundamental workforce skills, an associate degree in auto mechanics instills the knowledge to undertake exams for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificates which most employers prefer.

Some of these programs require an apprenticeship or some kind of field experience before graduation. Lab experience and other practices on the automobile and their systems might take place in fully equipped auto repair facilities.

Differences Between a Certificate and Associate Degree

Let’s shift focus to the differences between a certificate and associate degree and what are some requirements for admission to the programs.

1. Education Credits Earned through the Program

For a student to graduate with a certificate program in an auto mechanic, he/she is required to garner 21 credits at the end of the program. On the other side, to graduate with an associate degree in auto mechanics or automotive technology, you might require 60 to 69 credits. A grade of C and above may also qualify a student for graduation in both certificate and associate degree programs in auto mechanics.

2. Entry Requirements

For most auto mechanic certificates, you only need to show that you’re passionate about automotive technology. Once accepted, you can partake in various foundational classes in diagnostics, performance, power, engine repair, etc. The curriculum differs depending on the program.

For admission to a college that offers an associate degree, applicants are required to possess high school diplomas or a GED and show high academic preparedness. Some schools will even require an interview if they have a highly sought-after automotive program.

3. Time to Completion

The completion period of certificate programs in auto mechanics varies; while some can take a few weeks, others take up to 6 months. All this variation will depend on the student’s experience and the coursework. Program costs vary from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Associate degrees take longer than certificate programs. Usually, they can take up to two years. However, some associate degrees in auto mechanics offer students fast-tracked options, allowing them to complete in less than a year (most of these require some previous experience or knowledge).

While other programs permit the use of existing ASE certificates to apply to the degree to speed up completion time. The total cost of pursuing an associate degree may vary from $ 10,000 to $25,000. The varying cost of the program is because of the demand and reputation of the degree program or college.

What comes after earning a certificate?

Certificate programs address fundamentals like the introduction to brake systems, engine systems, automotive technologies, drive train, steering, etc. Students who have completed certificate programs are expected to possess the skills necessary to become entry-level auto-mechanic or technicians.

Also, you can continue your studies by taking part in additional courses towards the Automotive Technology Associate degree.

What comes after earning an associate degree?

Associate degrees in auto mechanics give you the necessary entry-level skills to enter the automotive service and repair industry. Once students have gained the fundamental knowledge and experience in automotive technology, they can find employment as automobile technicians.

Not only does the degree make you attractive to different employers, but it can also help you advance your career further beyond the entry position. Graduates of associates degrees can build upon their education and experience to gain employment in supervisory and managerial roles.

Most of the technicians, with advanced skills, ultimately find jobs with vehicle manufacturers, suppliers or related business.

Which is for you, a certificate or an associate degree?

Both Associate degrees and certificates in auto mechanics provide students with foundational, training in automotive repair, diagnosis, and design, but each comes with specializations and emphasis.

Some colleges stress theory as much as application, setting you up to attain leadership and management positions. While others place you in the shop immediately to gain hand on-skills experience.

So, choose a program that suits you better, make sure it’s enough to prepare you for any certification exams after graduation or for starting your career. Be sure you know the pros and cons of a career as a mechanic before you begin. Once you’ve chosen a program, go ahead and start preparing for your mechanic training.

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