Certificates, Degree & Internship

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Most community colleges offer a two year associate degree or one-year certificate for automotive service. Here are some of the courses required to obtain a certificate in automotive services from a community college, Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Illinois.

AUTO 101-01 Basic Automobile Service and Systems Credits: 3.00

It introduces automotive systems and service. It includes safety systems, drive lines, engines, transmissions, transaxles, and more. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 102-01    Automotive Engines    Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101 or equivalent, 3 credit hours. Focuses on automotive engine repair, disassembly, adjustments, assembly, and operation. Service units include block, cylinder heads, valve assembly, lubrication system, and cooling system. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 112-BH Sheet Metal Repairs-Body Adjustments Credits: 4.00

Prerequisite AUTO 111 or concurrent registration; 4 credit hours. Metal and fiberglass panel repairs, reshaping, sectioning, clipping, and replacement operations are performed on the hood, deck, door, frame, and doorjamb. $50 lab fee.

AUTO 202-01    Automotive Brake Systems    Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101 or equivalent; 3 credit hours. Component repair operations, adjustments, and performance testing of drum and disk brake systems. It includes introduction to computer systems that control the brake system. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 202-02    Automotive Brake Systems    Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101 or equivalent; 3 credit hours. Component repair operations, adjustments, and performance testing of drum and disk brake systems. It includes introduction to computer systems that control the brake system. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 206-01 Automotive Engine Performance Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101, 102, 107, 211; 3 credit hours. This course covers diagnosing and repairing complex engine and computer problems and drive- ability problems of the modem automobile. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 207-01 Automotive Heating/Air-Conditioning Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101, 107; 3 credit hours. Component repair operations, adjustments, and performance testing are performed on heating, defrosting, and air-conditioning systems. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 208-01 Automatic Transmissions/Transaxles Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101, 205; 3 credit hours. It includes component repair operations, adjustments, and performance testing on automatic transmissions, transmission controls, and auto transaxle transmissions. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 210-01 Automotive Electricity/Electronics II Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101, 107; APPIE 101; 3 credit hours. It includes electrical circuit identification, isolation, testing, repair, and component operation. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 211-01 Automotive Computer Systems Credits: 3.00

Prerequisite AUTO 101, 107, 210; APPIE 101; 3 credit hours. Cover operational aspects of automotive computer output/input control systems, performance diagnosis procedures, and repair. $35 lab fee.

AUTO 223-MC Automotive Parts Management Credits: 2.00

Training includes use of parts, equipment, supply catalogs, pricing procedures, and more.

AUTO 299-01    Internship Automotive    Credits: 2.00

Prerequisite 12 hours in AUTO and consent of coordinator, 2 credit hours. This course provides on-the-job experience combined with supervision. It is designed to present the service technician with a performance view of the automotive body service profession.

To get a certificate from a community college, you need to do a lot of work and learning. The time and money spent in training is well worth it, though.

Another school, Triton College, River Grove, Illinois, offers a choice of programs: An associate's degree takes a little longer but enhances the technical education with courses in the humanities and sciences. An auto technician certificate program is strictly devoted to auto repair. There are also several subspecialty certificates, such as engine performance and brake systems.


Almost all of the automobile manufacturing companies provide advanced training for the technicians who work in their dealerships. The main catch, however, is that you usually have to be employed by a dealership or have dealership sponsoring to enter one of these programs. Remember, too, that you may be studying only the manufacturer's cars. The best place to find out more about dealer-sponsored training is to contact some dealers in your area.

General Motors-Automotive Service Educational Program

In the spring of 1981, General Motors started an innovative program of education that opened new doors for those interested in automotive technical training. General Motors calls it ASEP, which is an acronym for Automotive Service Educational Program. It is a twomyear training program that is offered through community colleges and GM dealerships. It features a blend of classroom training mixed with on the job experience. Today sixty five colleges in the United States and sixteen colleges in Canada are affiliated.

One of the schools involved in the cooperative program is Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Triton's program is typical of those offered at other community colleges across the nation. The school works closely with the auto manufacturers to keep its curriculum up to date. One example is Triton's GM affiliation. (Note: Triton also works with other car manufacturers and models.)

Basically the GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) is designed to upgrade the technical competence and professional level of the incoming dealership technician. The curriculum is designed by General Motors, in cooperation with the college, and it does provide for a two year associate degree in automotive service technology. The student must go to school and work at one of the dealerships. For example, the student may spend the first 11 weeks at the college and follows that up with 8 weeks at the dealership in the first semester. The student then goes back to school for another 11 weeks followed by 8 more weeks in the dealership, and so on. The work at the dealership is supposed to parallel as closely as possible what the student learned in class.

Since considerable time is spent at the dealership, it is a requirement of the program that the student have the sponsoring of a General Motors dealer. If you can't find a sponsoring dealer, you can write directly to the General Motors. In addition to the instructional program, students also may work part-time at the dealership to help pay for their tuition, but it is not necessary.

Tuition will vary from school to school, usually ranging between amounts $3,000 to $5,000, a year, for students who live in the district. You'll have to add the necessary books for the entire program. Those living outside the district must pay an additional premium. You may be able to secure an out-of-district authorization from your home community college to get the in-district rate. Contact the admissions officer at your local community college.

In addition to the tuition and books, the student will be expected to buy the necessary hand tools, which will probably run about $600 to begin with and an additional $250 in tools as you go along.

Although at present the program is limited to those who can obtain dealer-ship sponsorship, it is highly possible that the training may be offered to the aspiring technician at large, so it would be a good idea to contact your community college and find out.

The following car manufacturers, among others, might be able to supply you with additional information in the form of brochures, booklets, and other materials. Since they offer training programs, they will be glad to explain their programs and how you can enroll.


Say that you are looking for a job and all the employers you meet want only someone with experience or training. The obvious question you might well ask is, "If they only hire people with experience, how can I get experience unless someone hires me?" It is a vicious circle. One way to break that circle is with an internship.

For a minimum wage, or perhaps no wage at all, you may be able to get a job at a local service station or independent repair shop. You may have to accept menial jobs until you can demonstrate that you are capable of more responsible work. But remember, you are making an investment in your future. You may even discover that the occupation is not for you. This way you've spent nothing but some time, and you've learned an important lesson.
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