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Mechanic Certification Training Vs. Associate Degree

The two most common formats for mechanic training programs are certificate and associate degree programs. 

The main difference is really that simple. Would you like to master mechanics and complete a certificate program? Or would you rather master mechanics while taking other subjects in an associates degree program? 

Mechanic Certificate Training

On average, automotive technology certificate courses will prepare you for an entry-level job in 7-10 months. This is the most direct route toward your new career.

Certificate programs help you become career-ready quickly and efficiently. They focus only on mechanic classes. You will have time in the classroom on some key topics, but much of your time will be spent out in the bays, elbows deep in vehicles.

Certificate Training Example Courses

Typical courses you might take include but are not limited to: 

  • Manual and Automatic Transmissions
  • Brake Systems
  • Engine Theory and Systems
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Electrical Theory and Diagnosis

Certificate programs are designed to prepare you to take certification exams, such as the ASE Certification Tests, which examine one's industry standard for mechanic knowledge. Becoming ASE certified is not required, but can increase your job prospects and pay rate. 

You’ll leave your certificate training having learned much more, too—how to use tools, hoists, handle fluids, and shop communication. In short, you will receive a full, comprehensive education on how to repair and maintain cars.

So if you're looking for fast training with a strictly mechanic-based education, this might be the right path for you. Find certificate mechanic programs near you.

Mechanic Associate Degree Training

Mechanic training is also offered in the form of a two-year associate degree in automotive technology. In addition to learning about cars, you will be required to take credits in several general education topics.

Expect to take approximately 19 credits of general education courses—think English, algebra fundamentals, and a physics introduction. These additional credits can be useful to your work, but you will not begin your career as quickly as you would by enrolling in a certificate program. 

Associate Degree Example Courses

You’ll also have about 48 credits of hands-on mechanics classes with program topics such as:

  • Manual Transmission and Drivelines
  • Automatic Transmissions
  • Auto Engines
  • Automotive Brake Systems
  • Suspension, Steering, and Alignment
  • Auto Electricity and Electronics

Just like certificate training, your associate degree program will prepare you for the ASE certifications, if you choose to pursue any of them. As we mentioned above, these are voluntary but can help you on your career path.

Also, like certificate training, with an associate degree, you should be able to walk into any shop or dealership and feel prepared to test, diagnose, fix, and prevent issues on the vehicles in front of you.

Having an associate degree can help you stand out more to future employers and potentially help you with promotions down the line.

So, if you’re interested in becoming a mechanic and the general credits are a personal preference despite the extra time in school, then associate degree programs may be the best fit for you.

Certificate Programs are Great Training

Mechanic material covered between certificate and associate degree programs is largely the same. Both training formats can leave you prepared for ASE exams. But to break it down, certificate programs are geared for those looking for fast, career-focused training, and associate degree programs are designed for those who have more time to spend in school and will enjoy courses in supplemental subjects.

Whichever route you choose, be assured you should leave training prepared to repair and maintain cars. Find mechanic training near you.

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