Stratford Career Institute | An Auto Mechanics Review

With modern busy schedules, it is hard to find the time to obtain further education. Many working adults want to start a new career, and others simply wish they had the time to learn more new and up-to-date skills relevant to their existing careers. Stratford Career Institute has a good solution with their wide range of distance learning courses. On their own time, students can learn the basics of whatever vocation they choose.

Specifically, this article will focus on Stratford Career Institute's Auto Mechanics program. While it might seem odd to study auto mechanics online, there are several online schools who offer automotive programs. We will discuss enrollment, course topics, and pricing. Then we will compare the program at Stratford Career Institute to similar ones at other schools.

Pricing includes special equipment given to the student upon completion of the course. Students will receive a professional compression tester, a vacuum and fuel pump tester, a tach/dwell tester, a timing light, and a remote starter switch.

 What Is the Stratford Career Institute?

Founded in 1991, Stratford Career Institute is a school that focuses on providing practical job training to busy adults who want to pursue a specific career option. Stratford Career Institute operates through distance learning courses which allow students to study and take exams on their own schedule. Adult students will find this set-up appealing as it allows them to either start learning about a new career field or to expand their existing knowledge and skills for their current job without the inconvenience of attending a physical class.

Students can choose from over 60 career-themed courses, and there is even an option to take high school classes. Career courses offered at Stratford Career Institute include Business, Computer Technology, Counseling/Education, Medical, Legal, Creative Careers, and Vocational Trades. Among the Vocational Trades is the Auto Mechanics program, which we will explore in detail later in this article.

Stratford Career Institute has an open-entrance policy, meaning they believe all students should have the opportunity to further their knowledge and skills. Interested students can easily enroll in classes online, by phone, or by mail, and there is no application fee. Potential students should be at least 18 and have had at least 8 years of formal schooling.

In a minimum of six months a student can complete a course, but Stratford Career Institute allows students up to two years to finish. Once a student passes their exams and completes all their tuition payments, he or she will be awarded a personalized career diploma from the school.

Stratford Career Institute is not accredited, so students should enter into the courses offered with the knowledge that they will not receive a degree or any transferable course credits. The school is a member of the United States Distance Learning Association, the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education as well as the International Council for Open and Distance Education. Stratford Career Institute is also affiliated with Institutional Accountants (ICIA) and The Travel Institute (formerly ICTA).

Curriculum Outline

auto mechanic person wearing protective suit is spraying chemicals under the car

Students may wish to enroll in the Auto Mechanics program at Stratford Career Institute if they would like to pursue a career in the field or even if they are just car enthusiasts looking to further their automotive knowledge. The Auto Mechanics program will teach students how to use modern diagnostic testing as well as how to perform advanced maintenance and repair procedures. The course covers engines, brakes, electrical systems, steering, suspension, emissions, and lighting.

Stratford Career Institute's Auto Mechanics program instructs students on automotive tools and systems, workplace skills, basic math, diagnostics, and safety. The program goes into depth on the topics of engines, electrical systems, transmission systems, brakes, heating, and air conditioning systems. It provides a good fundamental understanding of all standard automotive systems.

While Stratford Career Institute offers a comprehensive education in Auto Mechanics, students will not receive any formal certification upon completion. The program is designed as an introductory course to provide students with the necessary vocational knowledge to work on automobiles. However, the course does not fulfill any legal requirements for state certifications or licenses. Students will most likely need to further their training at an accredited school or undertake an apprenticeship before getting a job.

 Pricing

Regular price for the Auto Mechanics program is around $1,050. The website offers a promo for up to $300 off making the price around $750. The fee is all-inclusive, and there is an affordable minimum payment of $10 to start. Students can pay the entire fee at once by check, money order, or credit card; or they can pay monthly installments with 0% interest.

 How It Compares

We picked a few similar Auto Mechanics programs at other technical schools to see how they compare.

Stratford Career Institute

 stratford career institute logo

Price $$

The cost is around $1500 per semester.

Certifications:

Stratford Career Institute has no accreditation. Students will not receive any sort of formal degree, certification or licensure upon completion of their program. Credits will not transfer to other schools.

Support: 

Students who take part in this program should be self-starters as the course is self-paced. There is phone and email support available. We found some complaints from students about customer service taking too long to respond.

Curriculum:

The curriculum covered in the course is fairly extensive. However, there is no evidence of any hands-on training, which we would guess that most auto mechanics would need to receive in order to perform their job better.

Pros

  • Allows students to complete the program at their own pace on their own time
  • Students can learn at home
  • All students are allowed to enroll, and there is no application process or fee

Cons

  • School is not accredited
  • Students receive no degree or licensure
  • Lack of hands-on training
  • The course is a bit pricey

Alison.com

alison institute primary logo

Alison.com offers future auto mechanics a free online 10-15 hour introductory course. The course is divided into modules that can be completed on the student's own time. It is intended to give students a basic foundation before they enroll in an actual school or begin an apprenticeship.

Price $$

There is no cost at Alison.com.

Certifications: 

There is no certification or degree at the end of the program. It is intended purely as an introductory course.

Support:

The course is self-directed. Students can contact the website for help via an online form.

Curriculum:

The modules cover automotive technology, tools, engines, brakes, exhaust systems, suspension, heating and cooling systems, fuel system, and steering as well as what it is like to work as an auto mechanic.

Pros

  • The course is free
  • Anyone interested in a basic introduction to auto mechanics can take this course
  • Modules can be completed at a student's own pace

Cons

  • This is only a basic intro and is not intended to replace formal or hands-on training

Penn Foster Career School

penn foster institute logo

Penn Foster offers an online Auto Technician program that was developed by ASE Master Technicians with the goal to prepare students to take their ASE Certification exams. Like the program at Stratford Career Institute, this course can be completed in as little as six months. It offers mobile-friendly coursework, progress-tracking, informational videos, virtual simulations, and personal coaches.

Price $$

Expect to pay about $750 for the whole course. 

Certifications: 

Penn Foster is accredited by the DEAC, CHEA, MSA CESS, AdvancED, and IACET for non-degree programs and distance learning. Upon completion of the program, students will not receive a degree or certification, but they will be sufficiently prepared to take their ASE Certification exams.

Support:

We found several student complaints about staff being rude and unhelpful. Like the other programs in the article, students must be very self-disciplined to complete the course and get the most benefit.

Curriculum:

The program offers good fundamental knowledge of automotive tools, equipment, and safety. Topics covered include engines, preventive maintenance, math, electrical systems, heating and cooling systems, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles, brakes, axles, transmissions, suspension, and steering. As a bonus, students are eligible for discounts on Snap-On brand tools.

Pros

  • Offers ASE Certification preparation
  • Provides up to two ASE Certification practice test vouchers
  • Snap-On discounts
  • Features an online community

Cons

  • No actual degree or certification at the end of the program
  • Students must be highly self-motivated to complete the course
  • Complaints about rude and unhelpful staff

I-CAR

i car institute logo

I-CAR specializes in auto body repair programs and certifications. Rather than pre-recorded lectures, the online program features a virtual classroom. The program would be most appealing to those who already have some automotive training and who are interested specifically in auto body repair work. I-CAR offers OEM specific certification and training, ASE test preparation, and welding courses.

Price $$

Pricing is broken down by course. Some of the least expensive classes are in the $50-$100 range per course. Welding training and certification runs from around $900-$1,100. The full Collision Repair series runs around $550-$650. Private event fees are around $500 and may require long distance travel for students to attend in addition to the cost of the course.

Certifications: 

Students will receive preparation to take ASE Certification exams, and they can become OEM certified.

Support:

We think I-CAR stands out because of their live classroom environments and instructional support. They seem to have the highest ratings from students regarding overall support.

Curriculum:

The curriculum is specific to auto body repair, so it is more limited than the other schools in this article. However, within the auto body subject, training seems to be thorough. The live classroom setting and instructors are a bonus that the other schools do not have. In addition, there are options to take part in hands-on training sessions which is unlike any of the other schools in this article.

Pros

  • Virtual classroom instruction
  • Students will receive ample preparation to complete ASE Certification exams
  • Students choose to take specific classes relevant to them
  • School offers OEM certification

Cons

  • Specific to auto body repair work so not all automotive fundamentals are covered

 Conclusion

auto mechanic man checking the oil of the car

Taking part in online educational programs has become a popular way for adults to further their education, and as we have covered in this article, the field of Auto Mechanics is no exception. When studying Auto Mechanics online, most of the programs are intended as an introduction to automotive fundamentals. Most of the programs do not offer degrees or certifications and are intended to prepare students for further training and necessary certification exams.

While Stratford Career Institute is not an accredited school, it does offer students the chance to get a very basic introduction in a program that they can complete on their own schedule and at their most comfortable pace while in the comfort of home. However, the major con comes from making the decision to spend hundreds of dollars on a program to gain knowledge alone with the understanding that credits will not transfer to other schools. In the end, the student walks away a little more informed, but they have no degree and no certification to show for it.

For students who wish simply to expand their automotive knowledge, there are more affordable programs available (one of them is even free). For those looking toward Auto Mechanics as a vocation, we would strongly recommend attending an accredited school that offers certification training, hands-on training, and some sort of degree upon completion. Since Stratford Career Institute does not offer these features with their hefty price tag, we would have to give them a low rating of 2 out of 5 stars.