Education, Degrees, Automotive Maintenance


I was thinking of possibly getting an associates degree in automotives so that way I can learn how to do more of my own maintenance on my own vehicle. I would be taking this at a community college because it’s cheaper. I already have a full time job in a different industry. I plan on working my full time job and taking classes in the afternoon. I have degrees in other subjects.

Is this possible and are there any specific degrees that I should avoid or considering getting?

Thanks for help.

Quick answer: take everything automotive that the college offers. I did that in the 70’s and have saved a fortune as a DIY-er. In addition, take an intro physics course.

Why do you think you need a degree for that ? There are so few things to for maintenance on modern vehicles that You Tube can help with most of them . Then there is proper disposal of fluids ( coolant - brake - transmission ) that it is sometimes simpler to just have it done and you will not have tools that you only use seldom.

Or are you talking about major repair .

I fully support your goal.

I did this in the reverse of what you’re asking, (first auto degree, then other degrees). The automotive degree continues to be valuable, 40+ years later. It not only gave me a deep rooted understanding of cars & trucks, but it also enabled me to learn and understand mechanical, electrical, and industrial systems well beyond the automotive field.

Realize that not all automotive schools are created equal. Be careful of the “for profit” schools. I would look for a school that provides a good mix of class course work and shop time.

All the best.

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It goes without saying that any for-profit “school” of any type should be avoided like a disease. Most for-profit “schools” do little more than provide training of dubious value, and load their students up with debt that will haunt them for years. The “degree” or “certification” is often not accepted by employers, or if it is accepted, it is treated as less than a degree from a state university or community college.

There is literally no better bang-for-the-buck than taking classes at a local community college. I learned HVAC and refrigeration at a community college and earned an Associate’s in Applied Science, and never had any prospective employer doubt my qualifications.

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Most just for my own knowledge increase. Youtube videos I have learned a lot from, as well as a lot from the people on these forums. I’m not sure if formal education would be even more beneficial?

Also I’m seeing that most of these schools require “practicum” which sounds like an internship type deal. Where you 100 hours counts as one credit. Is this typical for these types of programs? Because this sounds like something I cannot get while working a full time job outside of school.

I was looking at some “Automotive Technology: Comprehensive Automotive Repair and Service (CARS), AAS” Thankfully I would imagine all my credits from my other degrees would count towards the general education, math, english, all that stuff I wouldn’t have to take it seems, and would be taking strictly automotive classes, which is what I want.

You’ve already made the 1st and smartest choice by NOT attending a for-profit automotive “institute”

That already puts you WAY ahead of a lot of other folks

Since you already have other degrees, I’ll assume you’re a pretty good learner. That already puts you at an advantage, versus some other guys. No offense to anybody reading this, but we all know we’re not all the same when it comes to learning, studying, knowledge retention, etc.

Of course it should be possible to take community colleges towards an automotive degree

If anything, the instructor(s) might be happy to see an older . . . I assume you’re not that young, since you already have multiple degrees in other fields . . . student attending

Don’t bother mentioning your reason(s) for attending. That’s not really that important, in my opinion. Besides, if you do, the other students may not take you as seriously, if you care about that kind of thing. Best to not let it even be a subject of conversation, if you ask me. Plenty of guys make mid-life career changes, and for all everybody else knows, that’s why you’ll be attending

Yes, it will be beneficial . . . because you’ll learn the fundamentals. In other words, you’ll learn why things are the way they are and how things work. That beats merely knowing how to fix something.

Talk to the head of the automotive department before you enroll. I’m sure they’ll answer all your questions

I did the same thing years ago, before I started my journey. I got some very good advice, and I heeded it to the best of my ability

Here’s the thing about youtube . . . while it’s entertaining and there IS some good stuff out there, it’s not all correct. And some of those guys only show you how to fix things, without explaining how it works.


I really like this idea.

An all around excellent idea and an excellent comprehensive approach to understanding what in reality is a very complex system. And taking advantage of the organized approach offered at your publicly subsidized Community Colleges is the most cost effective way to do it.

Whether you actually earn a specific degree is beside the point because your goal is personal knowledge, which may also lead you into other areas of interest. Physics, programming, electronics, materials engineering, chemistry, etc., which are all part of that thing we call a car.

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Not sure, but I think our state (community) college offers automotive course as vocational rather than degree courses.

Ours offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in automotive, the intro program. There is an evening program offered in Automotive there.

The big question is whether the program you are considering will lead to some type of accredited certification such as ASE. Your community college may even offer the ASE certification test as part of their services.

If your goal is to work in the field, the ASE accreditation would be excellent. If you are doing this simply for your own interests, forget about getting a degree. Take only the courses you want. (That advice will not work if the courses are only open to degree students. But even then, talk to the supervisor, since that kind of rule can be bent for someone who has a degree.)

Agree with everything written here. My local junior college has a excellent automotive program. Unfortunately it is virtually shut down due to Covid. Nearly all automotive classes have labs, and the college is not operating any labs during Covid. I fear that the program will be devastated if the instructors all find other employment.

I am a semi-retired mechanical engineer and my wife makes me take classes to keep me off the sofa. I have taken a number of automotive classes that were very good.

My local JC has several automotive classes that are sponsored by Ford. All the students are on Ford grants and they work internships at local Ford dealerships. Those classes focus on Ford products and are closed to students not in that program.

A guy needs to have some verified experience working in a shop before he can actually gain ASE certification . . . as far as I know

No offense intended to anybody . . . but I would like it better if an automotive program at a community college were NOT affiliated with an auto manufacturer

I’ve found that the most learning takes place when a guy is forced to work on ALL brands . . . because that more closely mimics the real world, in my opinion

In my experience, the best mechanics were often the guys that have “been there done that” and had worked in various settings. Dealer, independent, fleet, government, etc.

I’m obviously a little biased, but aren’t we all . . . ?!

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Referring to the Ford Asset program which has been around for years, I believe you have to be sponsored by a Ford dealer to get into the program. it’s an addition to the programs for any makes/models. Ford donates vehicles for the students to train with. At Renton Technical College in 04-05 there were two shops for Auto tech and the asset program had their own space.

Ase has an entry level certification for those just starting out. You can move up from there.

When it comes to obtaining automotive mechanical knowledge hands-on cannot be outdone. Schooling certainly does not hurt but there are a few caveats.
One is the competency of the instructor and how well he or she manages to get their points across.
The other is that some people are good test takers and some are not. This means that Very Competent Person A may fail a test and Not Competent Person B may ace the test.

I do not know if they still do this or not but when I first started working for VW I had to attend school for 3 hours every Thursday night for quite a few months.

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My opinion: experience is 85%. Education is 15% and that 15% goes a long way to getting 100%.

I agree with you, but we live in a world where certificates/degrees trump experience and natural ability.

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Nothing wrong with both experience and education.