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Mechanic Certification Training Vs. Associate Degree


Mechanic training programs come in two main types of formats:

  • “learn your trade well,” and
  • “learn your trade well + complete credits in additional subjects.”

The main difference is really that simple. Will you decide to learn about mechanics and complete a certificate program? Or will you decide to learn about mechanics PLUS take other subjects in an associate 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 course names for the automotive tech you’ll learn are:

  • 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 are an industry standard of 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. The additional credits will be useful to your work, but you’ll potentially be delaying your new career by being in school longer.

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.

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 fit for you.

TL;DR | Certificate Programs Are Great Training

There you have it: 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’ll leave training prepared to repair and maintain cars. Find mechanic training near you.

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