Start learning about this career by talking to your high school automotive technology teachers about their careers. Work on cars to gain valuable firsthand experience. An after-school job in a repair shop or dealership can give you an introduction to the world of automotives. You can develop your own teaching experience by volunteering at a community center, or working at a summer camp, or teaching a friend how to do a basic car repair. Also, spend some time on a college campus to get a sense of the environment. Write to colleges for their admissions brochures and course catalogs (or check them out online); read about the faculty members and the courses they teach. Before visiting college campuses, make arrangements to speak to automotive instructors who teach courses that interest you. These educators may allow you to sit in on their classes and observe.
Visit the Teach.org Web site (https://www.teach.org) for information on teaching careers, educational training, certification, and financial aid. Go to the Web site of the North American Council of Automotive Teachers (http://www.nacat.org) to learn about employment opportunities and relevant career developments for automotive teachers.
In the classroom, high school automotive teachers instruct students regarding a variety of automotive-related subjects such as brakes, electrical systems, collision repair, suspension and steering, heating and air-conditioning systems, and engine repair. They spend a great deal of time lecturing, but also teach students via hands-on training in on-site repair facilities. Outside of the classroom and repair shop, high school automotive teachers prepare lectures, lesson plans, and exams. They evaluate student work and calculate grades. In the process of planning their class, secondary school teachers read textbooks and workbooks to determine reading assignments; photocopy notes, articles, and other handouts; and develop grading policies. They also continue to study alternative and traditional teaching methods to hone their skills. They prepare students for special events, conferences, and competitions.
College automotive instructors teach at junior and technical colleges or at four-year colleges and universities. They cover a wide variety of subjects ranging from automotive repair technology, to automotive engineering, to automotive design. Typical classes taught by college automotive teachers include Introduction to Collision Repair, Introduction to Automotive Engine Repair, Welding for Automotive Mechanics, Basic Automotive Air Conditioning, Introduction to Automotive Engineering, Adapters/Tools/Measurements, Interior Body Construction, Auto Collision Welding, Frame and Unibody Damage Analysis, Steering/Suspension, Color-Matching, Basic Automotive Electricity, Automotive Maintenance and Inspection Procedures, Automotive Engine Performance Diagnosis, Automotive Brake Systems, Automotive Drive Lines and Repair Procedures, Hybrid Engines, and Introduction to Alternative Fuel Cell Technology.
College automotive instructors' most important responsibility is to teach students. Their role within a college department will determine the level of courses they teach and the number of courses per semester. They may head several classes a semester or only a few a year. Some of their classes will have large enrollment, while advanced seminars may consist of only 12 or fewer students.
Though college automotive teachers may spend only 12 to 16 hours a week in the actual classroom, they spend many hours preparing lectures and lesson plans, grading papers and exams, preparing grade reports, and readying the repair shops for classes. They also schedule office hours during the week to be available to students outside of class, and they meet with students individually throughout the semester. In the classroom, teachers lecture, lead discussions, administer exams, and assign textbook reading and other research. They also teach students in an industrial setting, or repair shop, that allows students to get hands-on experience repairing automobile engines, fixing collision damage, or using welding tools to fabricate auto parts.
In addition to teaching, some college automotive teachers conduct research and write articles for automotive publications. They also write books based on their research or on their own knowledge and experience in the field.