Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference
between a Certificate and an Associate's degree?
A certificate is a document that shows that you have specific training in a certain career field (such as Mechatronics). Our certificate requires only seven sourses, all of them in Mechatronics. An Associate's degree is a full college degree, and requires taking "general education" courses such as English, Math and Social Studies in addition to your Mechatronics courses. Associate's degrees typically require 20 to 25 classes.
How long does it take to
complete your program?
A typical time frame to complete our program is two years. Although the seven classes in our certificate program have been completed in two semesters (9 months), that is the rare exception. On the other hand, if a student can only take one course per semester, it will take three to four years to complete our mechatronics certificate. One-and-a-half to two years is the most common time frame for a student to complete our certificate program.
Obtaining an associate's degree requires taking general education classes (English, social science, etc.) as well as our seven mechatronics courses and therefore takes longer than obtaining just a certificate. A full-time student can still complete the mechatronics associate's degree in two years. In the end, the length of time to complete the our certificate or associates degree program is up to you and your schedule. See one of our instructors or a counselor for further information.
How much does your mechatronics
Total tuition for our mechatronics certificate is less than $1,200. Total tuition for an associate's degree in mechatronics is less than $2,900. The cost of textbooks, parking fees, meals and other expenses also need to be considered but vary greatly from student to student. Financial Aid is often available.
Do you offer daytime and evening
Yes, we offer our mechatronics program with both daytime and evening courses. Every course may not be available every semester at both times, so please check the current course schedule at www.sierracollege.edu for course time offerings.
Do you offer online
Because all of our courses utilize hands-on, project based learning we do not offer any of our courses on-line. In every one of our classes students spend more time in the lab building things than listening to lectures. Therefore our students learn by doing, not just by reading and taking tests.
How do I enroll in your program?
Visit the main Sierra College website at www.sierracollege.edu. Once there, you can fill out an
application for Sierra College and sign up for mechatronics and
other classes offered at Sierra.
Should I get a mechatronics certificate or an associate's degree in mechatronics?
Many employers simply require only some post-secondary (post high-school) technical training. Our certificate program would qualify you for these jobs. Some employers require an associate's degree for entry-level jobs or for supervisory-level positions. The bottom line is, the more education you have, the more job opportunities you will have. The choice is up to you, your schedule and your desire to further your education.
What kind of jobs can I get with mechatronics training?
Our mechatronics training is not geared towards any single industry. Our program trains you for any technician-level job that involves the installation, repair or maintenance of electrical, mechanical and/or computerized equipment. From small equipment like medical analysis equipment to large-scale installations like ski lifts, mechatronics training prepares you to work on just about any electrical or electro-mechanical system. See the Success Stories link (in red near the top of this page) for some examples of where our graduates are working.
How much do mechatronics
graduates typically earn?
Like any profession, pay rates vary significantly, but starting annual salaries in the $30,000 to $50,000 range are common for mechatronic technicians. Some employers, such as Anheuser-Busch, the City of Roseville and PG&E, start people out at higher pay rates than that. We have some graduates with significant years of experience earning over $100,000 per year. We can not guarantee what any individual graduate's salary would be, but we have a demonstrated track record of providing the training for students to obtain living-wage jobs and beyond.
Can you guarantee me a job after I graduate?
No, we can't. The truth is, no school can ever guarantee you a job. If you look at the so-called job "guarantees" from private technical training schools, you will see that they are not offering to refund your tuition if you do not get a job. They only offer additional job placement assistance, additional classes or other services to help you get a job.
What we can do is this. We will provide you with the skills needed to qualify for jobs in electronics, robotics, industrial automation, green energy and many other fields. We have a proven track record of providing the right training to enable our students to find jobs in the mechatronics field. These skills will give you a great advantage when you are looking for a job. Sierra College also provides career placement assistance.
Does your program offer internships?
We do offer internships. Internships (short-term employment in your career field) are a great way to get some job experience that will enhance your educational experience and better prepare you for your full-time job search. The availability of internships is very dependent on the ability of local employers to host interns, but even in a down economy there are some internships available. Contact the Sierra College Career Connections office for more information on internships.
Which classes should I take first?
Five of our seven required courses have no pre-requisites, so that students can start with the courses that interest them the most. In general, we encourage students to take MECH-10 with MECH-14 first, followed by MECH-4 with MECH-44. MECH-54 and MECH-90 have these other courses as pre-requisites and should be taken last. MECH-25 can be taken whatever semester fits best into the student's schedule.
Do you offer the mechatronics program at the Nevada County and Tahoe-Truckee campuses?
Due to the equipment-intensive nature of our program, we do not have the capability to offer all of our mechatronics classes at our Nevada County and Tahoe-Truckee campuses.
We offer six of our seven required classes at the Nevada County campus (MECH-54 would need to be taken in Rocklin).
On the Tahoe-Truckee campus we offer the three courses needed to earn the Electro-Mechanical Skills Certificate. Completion of the full mechatronics certificate or an associate's degree in mechatronics requires taking classes on the Nevada County and/or Rocklin campuses. See a mechatronics faculty member or Sierra College counselor for details.
Didn't your department used to be called "CIE"?
Yes, we used to be called the CIE department, but since our focus is now completely on Mechatronics (because that is where the jobs are), we changed our name to Mechatronics and our course abbreviations to MECH. The course numbers have not changed (e.g. CIE-10 is now called MECH-10).
What kind of education do I need to prepare for your program?
A standard high-school education is the only preparation needed for our program. High-school level math, science or computer courses are helpful, but not required. You will need to have the ability to do very basic algebra to succeed in our program. If it has been a while since you have been in school, don't worry. We can bring you back up to speed on the math.
How much are the lab fees for
Our students build and keep many projects in our classes, but we currently do not charge any lab fees for any of our classes. All project materials are included in the cost of tuition ($46 per unit, the same as any other class at Sierra College).
Is financial aid
Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, loans and work-study grants. Some are specifically intended for technical / career education and some forms of financial aid can be used for any type of educational plan. The specifics of what is available changes constantly so you should contact the Sierra College Financial Aid office for the most up-to-date information. http://www.sierracollege.edu/StudentServices/financialServ/index.html
Can I get a tour of your
facilities and talk with someone from the faculty?
Yes you can. Please feel free to call us at 916-660-7862 and we can arrange a time for you to get a tour of our facilities with one of our instructors.
What do I do if I have more questions?
Contacting us using the Contact Form on the home page of this website is the best way to get in touch with us. You can also call our department and leave a message at 916-660-7862 and someone will be able to call you back.
You may also want to watch this video about our program from the viewpoint of former students and local employers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNWgeQzIsZs