Archive for April, 2012
Some people who want to become automotive service technicians may be limited in obtaining an education because they cannot afford to take time off work from their current automotive position to advance their education. At Centennial College, students don’t have to choose. With the post-secondary’s automotive service technician training, there is an earn-while-you-learn approach. That makes it possible to learn while still making a living. How? First, during the three eight-week in-school sessions of the automotive service technician apprenticeship, students may qualify for income support through Employment Insurance Canada benefits or training allowance. Meanwhile, there are also five periods of 1,800 hours with an employer during which students are fully compensated for their work. In addition, if that time period doesn’t fit their schedule, students can complete the program by attending one day a week for three years or two evenings a week for three years.
To apply for this automotive service technician training, students have completed an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent and be employed as an apprentice. However, they cannot apply directly to the college or ontariocolleges.ca for admission. For general information about apprenticeship registration, students are asked to contact the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
Once they have gone through the application process and been accepted, students will discover a program that puts the emphasis on ensuring they obtain a good working knowledge of all of a vehicle’s systems: engines, electrical/electronics, fuels, transmissions and drivelines, steering, suspension and brakes. This occurs through the provinces largest transportation training centre, Ashtobee Campus. This facility houses workshop labs that simulate a real life environment and include tools of the trade and entire cars and car parts that have been donated to the school, on which students practice. Leading the students are professionals from the field who can offer one-on-one instruction as well as share their own experiences. More specifically, during their in-school sessions students learn car systems by attending the following automotive service technician training courses: Drive Train Systems, Electrical/Electronic & Emission Systems, Engine Systems, Work Practices and Procedures, and Suspension/Steering and Brake Systems.
After learning about a certain aspect of being an automotive service technician, students spend time with an employer showcasing their skills, encountering customers and practicing in a real-life setting. Upon graduation from Centennial College, students have the potential to be hired by their apprenticeship employers, full-time. In fact, more than other industry, the automotive service technician field looks for apprentices and workers who enter the sector having already experienced hands-on situations. Positions for those with automotive service technician training can be found in: vehicle and parts manufacturers, dealers, garages and service stations, retailers, governments, corporations with their own fleets as well as in self-employment.
It’s one of the great debates in the automotive world.
Is it worth it to attend an automotive school, or should I just get a job at the local shop and work my way up as I learn?
Well, there is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on what risks you want to take and (like most things in life) how hard you are going to apply yourself to be successful. Let’s take a brief look at both scenarios.
There are a wealth of high-quality mechanic schools in the United States – UTI, WyoTech, Lincoln Tech, and NADC just to name a few. At these schools, you can earn a degree/diploma in just about any facet of the automobile, diesel, motorcycle, marine, auto body and even aviation repair industries. You name it, there is a program for it.
The schools are staffed with professional teachers, equipped with the latest technology and tools, and are committed to helping you succeed, if you put forth the effort and are willing to deal with a few hiccups on the way. In a lot of cases, it’s not just automotive technology training – it’s everyday life training.
By attending, applying yourself to the coursework, and graduating from any of these top schools, you have a very good chance of landing a sweet job right out of school. Possibly even a manufacturer specific job (Audi, BMW, VW, Nissan, etc.) that pull in some pretty big bucks.
Of course, you have to pay tuition, which is not cheap – no question about it. Many students qualify for financial aid to help out, but you are still looking at spending a significant chunk of change to attend most of the top mechanic schools. Looking at it from a different perspective, you are investing in your future, so are you worth it?
– you earn a certificate/diploma/degree which shows you can set your mind to a goal and complete it
– you can get highly specialized manufacturer specific training that makes you very valuable in the industry
– you might be able to secure a job right out of school with a specific dealer or manufacturer (see above)
– in some cases you get a good starter set of professional tools
– you make connections with fellow students, teachers, and others in the automotive industry
– you typically get job placement assistance
– many student qualify for financial aid to help pay tuition
– you end up working on vehicles that you worship, and you’re actually happy to wake up in the morning and go to work
– you have to pay tuition and possibly student loans after you graduate
– you might not get a job… even with your shiny new diploma in hand
– if you don’t apply yourself 110% in your classes, you might not learn a whole heck of a lot considering how much you paid in tuition (that would be your fault…)
Apprenticeship or Learning on the job
The other road to become a professional mechanic is the tried and true. Learn a good bit tinkering on your own, and then look for an entry level position in a local shop, and work your way up. You can pepper that with by taking a few certification courses along the way, and bingo, you might have yourself a nice career.
Of course, you might also be on the road to changing oil and tires for the rest of your life until you finally get that coveted assistant manager’s position and a $1/hour raise to go with it.
Yeah, that might be a bit too negative, but you get the point.
If you are already good with your hands, own a good set of pro tool, and can find a local shop with a mentor who will teach you the in and outs – then go for it! Get certified here and there over the years to stay current, and you’ll be good to go.
– you don’t have to pay tuition
– you might earn an hourly wage while you learn on the job/apprentice
– you might end up taking over for the owner/lead mechanic eventually and run the shop yourself
– you might get a very small (or none at all) hourly wage while learning on the job
– the person you are learning from might not know as much as you thought they did..
– you might not learn to do what you really want to be doing (changing tires, oil, etc day in and day out…)
– you have to buy or borrow every last one of your tools yourself
– you might get laid off first since you are the low man on the totem pole
Hopefully this article has given you something to think about. Maybe put things in perspective a bit. Or even made you think of a few things you hadn’t considered. That was the goal. We need more good, qualified, honest, professional technicians in the insustry. Hopefully, whichever road you take, you become one.
Best of luck in your endeavors!
Automobile lifts originally date back to the invention of the Otis lift, but we do not need to go into history to understand this subject. It is enough for us to know up until the 1980s the most popular type of automotive lift for sale, as well as the most popularly used type were the in-ground type. These elevators for cars had the machinery for lifting the car or truck beneath the ground. Throughout the 1980s many garages found that their car lifts needed major repairs, and that they often needed a complete overhaul of the mechanism installed under the ground. Furthermore new customers looking for a garage elevator did not find the idea of having to dig a hole in the ground a very cost effective idea.
In Europe the most popular automobile lifts were two post ones that were installed above ground. The installation process was much easier than that of the American in-ground and American garages soon started installing these types of elevators. Unfortunately the European vehicle lifts were made for European cars, and these were narrower than American cars. The space between the hoisting posts was much less than what was needed, and the front car doors could not be opened except with great difficulty. This was due to the fact that the vehicle lift posts were too close to the vehicle.
The answer was the asymmetrical car lift. All two post elevators have four lifting arms connected to the two posts. Each post has two of these hoisting arms, one for the part of the car that will be in front of the lifting post and the other arm for the part of the car that will be behind the hoisting post. Asymmetric lifts use a shorter lifting arm in front of the post and a longer one behind the post resulting in a configuration where only 30% of the vehicle remains in front of the posts while 70% remains behind them. However this configuration creates an unbalanced load on the lift and and results in higher maintenance costs to keep the lift in service. The problem is solved by turning the posts from facing each other outwards to 30 degrees towards the load centre. A fully asymmetric vehicle lift will have unequal arm lengths and hoisting posts rotated at thirty degrees, while a lift with only different arm lengths can still be referred to as an asymmetric car lift but is really only half-asymmetric.
The advantage of this type of lift is that the vehicle door can be opened and closed with ease and it does not give the same problem of the narrow gap. However you may now buy symmetric car lifts that have a wider gap between the two posts, and this is not a problem for most garages, especially business garages that have a large space to use. Nevertheless the asymmetric lift makes it easy for you to open the car door in a lift that takes up far less space and is thus considered ideal as a car lift to be used in home garages. Garage owners that need a lift for larger vehicles will be less interested in asymmetric lifts and more interested in symmetric lifts, because larger vehicles are generally longer than cars and their doors can open fully when using the latter type of lift. It is therefore important when looking to purchase a lift to consider what type of vehicle you will need to lift, as well as your space requirements.
For many people, cars are a natural way of life, although cars in themselves are quite far from being natural objects. They are conceived, designed and engineered by handfuls of specialists. They combine practical science, technology, and synthesized materials. Nowhere in nature could the automobile evolve spontaneously on its own. Cars are only natural as an extension of human beings natural ingenuity.
We depend on cars, but cars also depend on us. This is why there are so many opportunities in the automobile service industry. Mechanics will continue to be a necessary hand to motorized society for quite some time. There are many places besides an automotive garage where automobile service technicians can find work, like car dealerships, transportation companies and car or parts manufacturing companies.
Before considering a career as an automotive technician, there are a few things you must ask yourself regarding this kind of career:
– are you prepared for the training?
– can you handle the work environment?
– are you in good enough physical condition?
– do you have the right physical and mental abilities?
Getting the proper education and training could be a long and involved process. Most programs are about 30 hours a week and last for three to four semesters. The best education combines theoretical learning with hands-on experience, which is best gained through an auto mechanic apprenticeship program. You need to know if you are ready to put in the hours learning and working with little or no financial remuneration.
Repair shops and garages are not the most congenial work places for many people. They can be dangerous and unpredictable. You must be ready to work long hours amid loud noises, semi-noxious fumes, hazardous materials, dirt and grease, and heavy vibrating machinery.
Although we are hearing more often today about the hazards of spending eight hours a day sitting at a desk starting at a monitor, this does not compare with the physical endurance required of a mechanic. You must be in good enough physical shape to withstand extended periods of time working on your feet, on your knees or on your back. There is also much heavy lifting and carrying involved.
The mechanic is much more than just a combination of car and engine aficionado and physical laborer. Knowing how to do something is not the same as being able to properly execute it, and so excellent eye-hand coordination is needed. The mechanic must also be super organized in terms of their tasks and time management. Mental capacities such as problem-solving, logical thinking and decision-making are very important as well. Finally, the mechanic must be a good learner and self-educator, as they must keep up-to-date with new systems and technologies.
Cars are a fundamental service to society, and so indirectly, automotive service technicians are equally important. If youve decided to pursue training to become a mechanic though an auto apprenticeship, youll find out if you have what it takes to be such a highly valued member of the motorized world.