Automotive technology programs in Montana teach students how to diagnose and repair problems with cars and light trucks. The goal of these programs is to prepare students for careers as auto mechanics or service technicians in a range of work environments. Curriculum typically includes both classroom and hands-on instruction covering all of the major systems of modern vehicles, as well as the proper use of contemporary tools and diagnostic equipment. Graduates may go on to work as service techs in a variety of facilities, including commercial repair shops and automotive dealerships, or as fleet maintenance techs for corporations or government organizations.
Montana Auto Mechanic Schools
There are several schools in Montana that offer formal training in automotive technology. Here are four colleges with programs in the field:
- Montana State University Billings: At its City College, MSUB offers two different automotive technology tracks, a Certificate of Applied Science and an Associate of Applied Science degree. The Certificate program has a one-year plan of study, and the AAS program takes two years to complete.
- Montana State University-Northern: MSU-Northern in Havre offers two different automotive technology degree programs, a four-year Bachelor's in Automotive Technology and a two-year Associate of Applied Science in auto tech. The school also has a fast-track option for the AAS degree in which students can earn the degree in 12 months. In addition to these options, MSU-Northern offers a brand-specific program that prepares students to work in Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships.
- Montana Tech: Montana Tech's Highland College in Butte offers a four-semester program in auto tech that culminates in an AAS degree.
- University of Montana Helena College: UM's Helena College campus offers an AAS program in auto tech that allows students to earn the degree in two years.
What to Expect from Montana Auto Mechanic Programs
Montana's automotive technology programs vary in length and degree outcomes. However, in most programs, students can expect to learn about all aspects of vehicle maintenance, repair, and diagnostics, including:
- Power trains, including engines, transmissions, axles, transaxles, and differentials
- Brakes, including disc and drum brakes and anti-lock brakes
- Suspension and steering components
- Electrical systems and electronics
- Fuel systems, including electronic fuel injection and emissions systems
- Customer interactions
- Safety and environmental regulations
In addition to classroom-based lessons, most programs contain a hands-on training component where students are given the opportunity to work on actual cars or automotive systems. These exercises may take place at a workshop on campus, or at a local auto repair shop.
Montana Auto Mechanic Licensing and Certification
While no specific license is required for automotive technicians to work in Montana, some employers may prefer to hire candidates who possess a formal degree or certificate in the field.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) accredits automotive technology programs through its National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, and provides a professional-level certification, known as an ASE Certification, for experienced technicians. To sit for ASE exams, candidates must have two years of on-the-job experience or a combination of one year field experience and a two-year degree from an accredited automotive tech program.
Resources for Auto Mechanics in Montana