Students interested in an automotive career have the option to complete training in high school through a vocational/technical program, or after high school through a community college or trade school program. While formal training is not required for one to become a mechanic, it is highly recommended. Training programs give students an opportunity to keep up with changing technology and earn certification that gives them an edge in a job search and also may boost their salary.
Many high school-level programs throughout the country participate in the Automotive Youth Education Service program (AYES), which establishes criteria for programs to build students' technical and employability skills. AYES partners with area dealerships, providing students opportunities for internships while still in high school. Students who complete AYES programs receive certification that demonstrates to prospective employers their training.
Post-secondary education includes trade schools, such as Lincoln Tech in Indianapolis, Indiana, which offers a variety of diploma and associate degree programs. Students can earn an associate degree in automotive service management or diesel and truck service management, and diplomas in automotive technology, collision repair and refinishing technology, high performance, and diesel and truck technology.
Community colleges also offer automotive programs. Montgomery College with campuses throughout Montgomery County, Maryland, offers an associate of applied science degree in automotive technology, as well as certificates in automotive electrical systems specialist, automotive air conditioning specialist, engine performance specialist, power train specialist, and undercar specialist.
A number of dealerships provide their own training programs and certifications through partnerships with community colleges. The Ford ASSET Program works with community colleges to give associate degree students an opportunity to intern at a Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealership while attending school. The program is designed to graduate experts in the repair of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles and prepare students for employment at Ford or Lincoln Mercury dealerships.
Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City participates in the Ford ASSET program, and students spend the first eight weeks of each semester in the classroom, and the remaining 10-12 weeks of each semester in a full-time paid internship position at a local Ford or Mazda dealership.
Many automotive technicians seek out certification from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which tests one's knowledge of repair and diagnostic procedures. Earning national ASE certification is another way of demonstrating both one's commitment to the industry and its standards of excellence, as well as one's own drive to succeed. Keeping certification current also demonstrates that one is keeping up with changing technology.