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Today, when so much professional work is going online, it’s easy to forget that modern life depends on trades – everything from HVAC to electricians to mechanics. And an online degree in mechanics, repair, and other trades can be invaluable.

A common query of many prospective college students is: “Do you need a degree to become a mechanic?” In many cases, the answer is yes. The career requires technical skill and an encyclopedic knowledge of how parts of a vehicle work. Although some businesses require a mechanic to have at least a high school diploma, more and more companies are choosing applicants with a degree in the field. An undergraduate degree confirms that the mechanic has received standardized education in the field. When a mechanic is hired in a position, management has no way to distinguish what type of training the individual has received without a degree.

Along with, “Do you need a degree to become a mechanic?” Prospective students are likely to wonder: “What type of degree in mechanics do I need?” Depending on the field, mechanics are likely to complete a minimum of an associate’s degree track. Within any degree program should be the opportunity for the mechanic to earn key certifications. Industry-wide certifications help employers understand what types of repairs, maintenance, and assessments that the mechanic may perform on the job.   

What Does a Mechanic Do?

Not all mechanics perform the same job duties. One of the main factors that determines what type of degree program to enter in is the specialized area that the mechanic plans to enter. The following are the different types of duties performed by those in each field of mechanics:

What does a mechanic do?

Although auto mechanic is the most well-established position in the field, there are more than one type of mechanic. The industry offers numerous career pathways for the prospective college student. When entering a mechanic degree program, the student normally chooses a specialization. The specialization dictates what type of position he or she will pursue after degree conferment. Specialization options include auto body, air conditioning, heavy duty machinery, diesel, aircraft, and motorcycle. By attending training in these areas, the student is prepared to inspect and repair parts of the vehicle or equipment piece.

What does a diesel mechanic do?

Diesel mechanics are also known as diesel technicians. The job title means that the mechanic has received the necessary training to work on vehicles with diesel engines. Diesel mechanics have received highly specialized training to work in shops that service and fix buses, trucks, and other automobiles with diesel engines. A diesel mechanic will have familiarity with duties such as diesel engine repairs, emission control system maintenance, and diesel electrical system fixes.

What does an auto mechanic do? 

When most people think of a mechanic, they picture an automotive mechanic. Another term for auto mechanic is automotive service technician. As a mechanic, the worker is responsible for the repair and service of cars and light trucks. Mechanics use computer software programs to help pinpoint issues and then perform hands-on repairs to remedy the problems. Mechanics also tend to work with a variety of tools used specifically on cars and trucks.

What does an aircraft mechanic? 

Aircraft mechanics are responsible for keeping planes in good working condition. The aircraft mechanic will work at airports and hangars to perform regular maintenance on aircraft and pieces of aviation equipment. As part of his or her job duties, the aircraft mechanic may inspect all areas of the plane and then perform any necessary repairs on engines, wings, electrical systems, and brakes.

Most Popular Schools with Online Mechanic & Repair Degree Programs

Quick Facts: Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights
2019 Median Pay$52,860 per year
$25.41 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job TrainingSee How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2019521,300
Job Outlook, 2019-2913% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-2970,100
Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

How Do I Become a Mechanic?

To become a mechanic, the prospective student must first decide what field he or she wishes to enter. Although some general education courses may be part of curriculum, most mechanical degrees focus on the core skills needed to perform repairs and maintenance on vehicles and machinery. As an example, the student could have an interest in diesel mechanics and ask:

What degree do you need to become a diesel mechanic?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers of diesel mechanics require postsecondary education and training in the field for open positions llike an associate’s degree in diesel mechanics. Associate degree tracks will have a blend of courses that include classwork and hands-on training. Select colleges also offer higher level degrees in diesel mechanics, including a four-year bachelor’s degree.

How long does it take to get a diesel mechanics degree?

Many diesel mechanics programs are accelerated and can be finished in approximately one year of full-time attendance. More comprehensive degree programs in the field can take an average of two to four years.

Before entering any type of degree program, including those that require specialized knowledge, enroll in classes that provide an introduction to the different type of mechanics. As an example, high school students may take elective classes related to computer science, automotive repair, and mathematics. Another way to get started prior to enrolling in any type of degree track is to attend a vocational program. Many high schools and community colleges partner with vocational schools to provide training in a trade field, like mechanics. While attending a vocational school, the student can find out more about the different types of mechanical degrees offered at the postsecondary level.

What Can You Do with a Mechanics Degree?

Mechanics is a straightforward career choice. Depending on what type of degree the student pursues, he or she is most likely to end up as a mechanic or service technician. For instance, a degree in industrial mechanics will cover topics related to the inspection, maintenance, and repair of industrial equipment pieces. Jobs with an industrial mechanic degree include:

  • Industrial mechanic
  • Industrial maintenance worker
  • Machinery service technician
  • Millwright
  • Industrial mechanic team leader

Most of the preceding jobs take place in a factory setting. While on the job site, the industrial mechanic must inspect equipment pieces, make repairs, and troubleshoot any issues.

A common question for those who plan to enroll in a college offering mechanical study degrees is: “What jobs hire a mechanic with an associates degree?”

An associate’s degree qualifies the student for numerous types of mechanical jobs. Associate programs within mechanics don’t offer a broad foundation in general studies. Instead, most mechanics programs will focus on hard skills such as computer training and mathematics. Soon after enrollment, mechanical skills are developed through real-world and simulation exercises. The following are a few job those who have at least an associate’s degree as a mechanics major:

  • Auto body mechanic
  • Engine repair technician
  • Diesel repair technician
  • Auto glass repair technician
  • General maintenance worker
  • Machine operator
  • Industrial mechanic
  • Heavy vehicle service technician

Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral (as appropriate to subject)

Online Associate’s Degrees

An associates degree in mechanics is the most popular choice among trade students. A mechanic associates degree prepares the student for entry-level positions in the field. If the student decides to pursue a higher degree, he or she may continue to work while earning an undergraduate degree. Associate degrees have fast-paced curriculums too. As an example, many colleges award an associate degree in auto mechanics in one year or less of full-time enrollment.

The specialized nature of the associate degree program determines assigned coursework and simulation trainings. For an associates degree in diesel mechanics, the classes will delve into topics such as diesel engine parts, diesel service requirements, fuel types and grades, electrical systems, manual transmissions, and truck brake systems. For an associate degree in auto mechanics, the student will focus on learning about topics such as auto transmissions, auto brake systems, electrical components, emissions, fuel management, auto fluids and maintenance, and system controls. Similar to any type of mechanic associates degree program, the automobile mechanics program will include some general education classes in computers and mathematics along with courses related directly to the repair and servicing of automobiles.

An associates degree in mechanics can also be offered in the following fields:

  • Aviation mechanics
  • Industrial mechanics
  • Refrigeration mechanics
  • Heavy duty machinery mechanics

Courses for these classes will focus on working with specific vehicles and equipment pieces.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees

 At the bachelor’s level, a four-year degree in awarded to the student. To graduate from the mechanics degree track, the student requires 120 undergraduate credits. Mechanic degrees online are preferred by those who already have a position in the field. A mechanics degree online will allow the student to attend courses while still continuing to earn an income. An online mechanic degree may also permit work experience to count toward graduation degree requirements.

An online diesel mechanic degree or auto mechanic degree online will work in similar manners. To start, the student uses virtual resources to attend live and pre-recorded lessons related to mechanics. The student is then responsible for passing any assessments given on topics such as diesel mechanics, auto mechanics, heavy machinery mechanics, and aircraft mechanics.

As part of an online mechanic degree, the student is required to complete work training exercises. Most colleges will help a student find a local resource to complete required job training for credit. Performance reviews may be given or the student may have to upload video submissions that demonstrate industry-specific service jobs.

Online Master’s Degrees

 A masters degree in mechanics is reserved for those who want to become experts in the industry. A mechanic masters degree will normally require 60 credits in classroom studies and fieldwork. For a masters degree in mechanics, the students learn more about advanced topics such as vehicle design, infrastructures, engineering, collision sciences, and more. Masters degree in engineering mechanics may be offered online, in person, or a hybrid program of study. To earn a masters, including a masters degree in engineering mechanics, the student will have to submit a thesis or final project. Post-graduate degrees allow the student to secure positions as managers, designers, team leaders, auto engineers, mechanical engineers, researchers, and educators. At the master degree level, the graduate will have the highest salary potential with salary potential in excess of $84,000 a year according to Payscale.

Accreditation for Mechanics Programs

Accreditation for mechanics degree programs is very important. Accreditation confirms the legitimacy of the degree. With accreditation, students know they are receiving coursework that meets or surpasses industry standards. Accreditation for mechanics can be industry-specific or given at the regional level. Regional accreditation is a must for degrees at the bachelor-level and above. Regional accreditation involves the governing of certain school programs based on their geographic location. As an example, the Middle States Commission on High Education, accredits colleges and degree programs located in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virgin Islands, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Industry-specific accreditation depends on what type of mechanical degree the student is pursuing. However, the following are well-known organizations that provide mechanic degree accreditation:

ASE Foundation

Automotive Service Association

Association of Diesel Specialists

Certifications/Licensure

Certifications in mechanics are extremely important to the prospective student. Unlike many other industries, certifications are likely to be a pre-requisite for job opportunities. Also, during the course of a mechanic’s career, the employee will have to take mechanics certifications to keep any licensing current. Continued education credits can be available through certifications for auto mechanics.

Mechanics certifications also are used to help a technician advance to the next career level. As an example, before earning any mechanics certifications, a diesel service technician may be at the apprentice level. Once the apprentice gains years of work experience and earns select certifications, he or she is designated a journeyman. The following are the most coveted certifications in the field of mechanics.

ASE Mechanics Certification: The Automotive Service Excellence certification programs are the gold standard for auto mechanics. Undergraduates attend the Core 8 program that features a curriculum that covers eight different areas of automobiles. The certification track allows the mechanic to get certified in brakes, transmissions, suspension and steering, manual drive train, electrical systems, engine performance, and heating and cooling. After completion of the Core 8, the certified mechanic is eligible to take the ASE Masters Certification.

ASE Diesel Certification: ASE provides specialized certification programs to mechanics, including a course and exam for diesel repair.

FAA Certification: For those who wish to become an aircraft mechanic, the student must take and pass an examination administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Scholarships for Mechanics

Mechanics scholarships help offset the cost of attending trade school or college. Mechanic scholarships are industry-specific with award amounts given to those who have declared mechanics as a major. Along with scholarships for mechanics, the student can help pay for classes by applying for grants and low APR loans. The following are a few examples of mechanics scholarships currently offered:

American Muscle Auto Scholarships

Kathy Pace Technology Scholarships

TwoTen Higher Education Scholarships

Techforce Foundation Scholarships

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