Diesel and Heavy Vehicle Technology Associate Degree
Learn about associate degree programs in diesel and heavy vehicle technology and how to find a program that will meet your needs. Find out what topics you'll study and what jobs you will be qualified for. Schools offering Diesel Mechanics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Do I Need an Associate's Degree in Diesel and Heavy Vehicle Technology?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it's possible to secure a position in diesel or heavy vehicle technology by way of on-the-job training (www.bls.gov). However, the BLS goes on to state that most employers would rather hire people who have completed a postsecondary formal education program. High school courses such as automotive repair, mathematics, physics and even computer technology can provide you with a good foundation for further education.
In addition to associate's degree programs, community colleges and technical institutes may offer programs that lead to a certificate of completion. However, an associate's degree may provide you with a more well-rounded education, enhance your employment possibilities and increase your advancement potential.
How Can I Find a Suitable Program?
There are at least two sources you can use that will lead to an appropriate associate's degree program. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is an excellent source of postsecondary education institutions (www.nces.ed.gov). A search through the NCES online database yields over 150 schools that may offer associate's degree programs in diesel and heavy vehicle technology.
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) also maintains an online directory of schools (www.natef.org). The secondary and postsecondary schools listed all offer training programs that have been certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Some are degree programs.
What Will I Find in a Program?
A program leading to an Associate of Applied Science degree can take two or more years to complete and may consist of 66-120 credits. During the program, you develop the skills necessary to diagnose and repair mechanical and electric problems, maintain optimum performance and upgrade, or rebuild engines for diesel automobiles, trucks, buses, trains, cranes, tractors, bulldozers and mobile equipment. Because of the hands-on nature of the training, there are no online programs available.
Typical courses you might encounter include brakes and suspension systems, diesel fuel and hydraulic systems, heavy duty drive trains, engine diagnostics, mechanics, electrical systems, preventative maintenance and welding. You may also have the opportunity to serve an internship at a school-partnered independent repair facility. You may find that all or a portion of the credits earned in the associate's degree program will transfer toward a bachelor's degree program at a 4-year school.
What About Employment Possibilities?
According to the BLS, there's no industry-wide certification standard for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians. In addition, there is no certification necessary for diesel service technicians. However, the BLS asserts that certification stands in testimony to your competence. Once you've earned your degree and have amassed a specified amount of appropriate work experience, you may be eligible to sit for one or more certification examinations administered by the ASE. ASE approval and certification is the benchmark of excellence throughout the industry.
The BLS projected that employment opportunities for diesel and heavy vehicles service technicians would increase six and eight percent respectively from 2008-2018. This slow, but steady growth may be due to a couple of factors. While the durability of vehicles has improved, increased sophistication in the technological aspects of the field maintains a constant demand for trained personnel.
The most resent salary statistics were complied in 2010. At that time, the BLS determined the mean annual wage for diesel engine specialists to be $42,250. The mean annual salary for heavy vehicle mechanics was determined to be $46,140.
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