Due to the advancements in technology, the automotive industry has made considerable gains over the past few decades. As a result, automotive technologists are expected to keep up with the constantly changing environment in this field.
The focus of studies in this area is on building, inspecting, maintaining and repairing cars and vehicles. The vehicles usually include diesel engines, gasoline, electricity or any other alternative for fuel or power.
To enter this field, you will need a degree in automotive technology from an accredited educational institute. Various universities across the United States offer automotive technology programs, providing trainings.
Associate Degree in Automotive Technology
An associate degree in automotive technology offers both lectures and general coursework. This degree provides students with entry-level skills necessary in the automotive service and repair industry. The industry is always on the lookout for qualified technicians who have expertise in automotive repairs and maintenance.
As a part of this degree, students will cover courses which will include topics such as transmissions, brakes, climate control and engines. By the end of this program, students should ideally be able to diagnose, service and repair automotive internal combustion engines, automatic transmission/transaxle systems and other systems within various automobiles.
Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Technology
A bachelor’s degree in automotive technology typically focuses on mathematics, mechanics and engineering principles. Students are given hands on instruction through trainings and workshops, along with opportunities for possible automotive engineering internships.
To be eligible for a bachelor’s degree, you must have a high school diploma and should meet the minimum GPA requirements. In some cases, you might also be required to submit scores from the American College Testing (ACT) examination or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). A strong understanding of mathematical skills and concepts is important.
The coursework focuses on engineering technologies used in the modern automotive industry. Subjects taught typically revolve around manufacturing management, automotive marketing, diesel and heavy equipment, automotive electronics, collision repair, fuel systems, emission testing and suspension and alignment.
Masters in Automotive Technology
A masters in automotive technology is an advance level degree designed to keep up with the constantly changing landscape in today’s modern engineering world. It emphasizes on engineering fundamentals and practice with a focus on recent developments in automotive engineering.
This degree offers courses that deal with advanced concepts in math and physics. Other subjects include energy generation and storage using modern materials, advanced energy solutions, ecological sustainability in design and manufacturing, modeling, analysis and control of electric hybrid vehicles, fuel processors and fuel cells.
Students graduating with masters in this field will have knowledge in modern automotive systems, engineering fundamentals, teamwork skills required to run projects and enhanced interdisciplinary skills. As part of the coursework, students will be required to complete several group projects, modules and assessments, along with one individual capstone project.
PhD in Automotive Technology
A PhD program in automotive technology is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to pursue careers as a technical specialist and work as technical leaders, research mentors and innovators. The amount of time it will take to complete a PhD program varies, but typically it takes around 4 till 7 years.
To get into a PhD program in automotive technology, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in this field or in a relevant subject. If you enroll for a PhD with a master’s degree in hand, the credit hours requirement would vary.
The course structure of a PhD will be diverse and advance in nature. Students will be required to meet certain core courses requirements which could include subjects such as project management, automotive systems overview and systems integrations methods. Furthermore, you will be required to complete a certain number of automotive technical electives such as materials for automotive applications, vehicle manufacturing processes, advanced power trains and drivelines, vehicle diagnostics, automotive grounding and shielding and fundamentals of vehicle drivelines.
A PhD program will also typically include a dissertation.
Certificate in Automotive Technology
Automotive certificate programs provide technological understanding and training necessary to repair and maintain automobile engines. Students in a certificate program learn how to use variety of professional tools such as lathes, grinding machines, engine analyzers and welding equipment.
The common course topics included in this qualification revolve around electrical systems, performance and diagnosis, drive trains, engine theory, emissions systems and more. Students are given basic level understanding of topics such as engine repair, suspensions, brakes, heating, engine performance and air conditioning.
Keep in mind that to enroll in a certificate program, you should at least have a high school diploma or equivalent. And since these professionals might be required to drive other people’s vehicles, you may also need to hold a valid driver license along with a clean driving record.
Automotive Technology Degree Online
There are a few colleges and state schools that offer automotive technology programs online. Since it is a subject that involves a lot of technical aspects and practical elements, an entirely online program is nearly impossible. Most online schools offer this major as a hybrid program, where part of the courses are online, and for some you are required to visit campus for the practical training.
As for the few fully online programs available with some colleges, students learn through interactive programs, videos and animations to understand concepts. However, prospective automotive students who are partial to practical instruction may want to consider a hybrid program as it gives them hands on experience.
Careers in Automotive Technology
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were around 700,000 jobs in the automotive repair and maintenance sector in 2013. Due to the increasing complexity of automotive technologies, advance understanding of these concepts is necessary. Most employers prefer some sort of formal training that must be completed by the applicants in relevant areas of science.
You can look for careers in inspection and repair and maintenance. The type of vehicle you work on can also define your area of expertise. For instance, you could be responsible for vehicular systems in cars, trucks, motorcycles, aircraft, industrial or marine vehicles. Common job titles include automobile service technicians and mechanics. Higher level educational qualifications might land you in research related jobs in universities or government organizations.
Automotive Industry Taking Huge Leaps
The Tesla Factor: With a net worth of $13.3 Billion, Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla Motors will be bringing self-driving cars into the auto industry’s changing market. And this might just happen sooner than you think. Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature was teased at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2015, and is expected to hit the markets by the end of the year. This will be one automobile to watch out for!