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Do you have a strong interest in working with cars? Are you a hands-on kind of person looking for a career in the automotive industry? If so, auto mechanic school is a great place to start. Here is a list of 10 schools where you can pursue your interest in cars and use it to make a meaningful, lucrative career.
Auto Mechanic School FAQ
Cars, car engines, and car parts are becoming increasingly complicated, especially now that many aspects of a vehicle are computerized. Gone are the days when it was easy for someone with amateur knowledge to maintain a car themselves. Now, people need experts in automotive technology more than ever. Here are some questions you might want to consider before you choose an auto mechanic school that will lead you to a career in this field.
1. How Much Money Do Auto Mechanics Make?
In 2014, the median pay for an auto mechanic was $37,000 and has only gone up since. People with specialized skills have the opportunity to earn considerably more. Some of the schools on our list offer programs where you can learn to specialize in different aspects of automotive technology. Some even offer classes in business and engineering.
2. How Can I Become an Auto Mechanic?
Certification isn’t absolutely required to become an auto mechanic, but most employers require it. There are opportunities to study at trade schools, community colleges, some larger universities, and apprenticeships. Programs usually give graduates a certificate, vocational diploma, AAS degree, or BS degree. A good program should prepare you to pass the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) examinations. To continue to expand your knowledge, you can go on to more advanced programs that will give you the opportunity to specialize in certain areas.
3. Is the Automotive Industry Growing?
Yes. Most people own cars and will inevitably need help to maintain them. In 2014, there were 740,000 jobs available for auto mechanics, and that number is expected to increase by 5% through 2024.
4. What Are Some Good Things to Look for in an Auto Mechanic School?
Ideally, you want a school with small class sizes where you can get lots of attention from your teacher. You should check that the school has adequate facilities and that it gives students access to its resources. Make sure that the school you choose is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and that it will prepare you for the ASE. Of course, the cost of your program is also something you should take into account.
How We Reviewed
When we reviewed the schools on our list, we considered quality of education, student life, and tuition. We noted what aspects of automotive technology are taught, and what kinds of certificates and degrees are offered. We also looked at student reviews to determine how happy people who invested in the programs are with their choice. Importantly, we considered whether the school offers good career placement for students and support for graduates who are transitioning into the workforce.
Overall Price Range
Tuition at the schools we reviewed ranges greatly. You can go to a small auto mechanic school for under $3,000, while if you choose to pursue a BS at a larger university you can expect to pay over $10,000. If preparing for the ASE is your main concern, you can save a lot of money by choosing a budget school. However, if having an active student life, becoming part of a network within the industry, and earning a more advanced degree are important to you, you should consider investing in a more expensive school.
What We Reviewed
- Washburn Institute of Technology
- Central Louisiana Technical Community College
- Lake Area Technical Institute
- Brigham Young University-Idaho
- Alexandria Technical & Community College
- South Seattle College
- Hallmark University
- School of Automotive Machinists
- Western Technical College – Wisconsin
- Pittsburg State University
Washburn Institute of Technology
Washington Institute of Technology is a small school with under 1000 full-time students. The Auto Service Technician program at Washburn Institute of Technology has the advantage of a newly refurbished automotive lab. Courses are conducted at the classroom and hands-on level.
By pursuing the program full time, you can complete it in 2 years. If you are part-time, plan on taking 4 years. Following completion of the program, you will receive a 52-hour technical certificate and have the opportunity to go on to an associate’s degree or other advanced degree.
- New automotive lab
- Hands-on experience
- Good comradery among classmates
- Engaging classes
- Some students report not many student activities
Where to Apply
Central Louisiana Technical Community College
This school has around 1,100 students, with auto mechanics being the third most popular area of study. The automotive program at Central Louisiana Technical Community College is usually completed in 4 semesters, with students doing 15 or more hours per semester. Both the program and the teachers are endorsed by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
After completing the program, students receive a technical diploma and are eligible to take the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test.
- Attentive, accredited instructors
- Positive interactions between peers
- No printer available for student use on campus
- Some students say the facilities could be upgraded
Where to Apply
Lake Area Technical Institute
This is another small school (around 1,500 students) with a 100% acceptance rate. The Automotive Technology program can be completed in two years. It boasts lots of hands-on experience, as well as accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
Instructors all have ASE certification, which is available to students who complete the program and successfully pass the exam. Students who wish can go on to pursue the Light Duty Diesel Technology program as well.
- Tuition less than some schools
- Opportunity to earn an AAS degree
- Emphasis on hands-on study
- No on-campus housing
Where to Apply
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Brigham Young University offers more than just education for future service technicians. Students have the opportunity to study business and engineering as it relates to automotive technology. The school, which has over 28,000 students, is associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There are both 2-year and 4-year programs available, with opportunities to earn either an AAS or a BS.
The automotive programs are accredited by NATEF, and all teachers have an ASE. Numerous internships are available, as well as hands-on experience in a real shop, which services the surrounding community. Clubs such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the Supermileage Competition Team promote comradery among students who study automotive technology.
- Highly accredited program
- Opportunities to study business and engineering
- Positive social network among students in the program
- Real-life experience
- Ranked among the best Christian colleges in America
- Ranked among the best colleges for information technology in America
- Some students have reported incidents of sexism, racism, and homophobia on campus
Where to Apply
Alexandria Technical & Community College
Students who study Diesel Mechanics at Alexandria Technical & Community College receive training that they can apply to a career working with construction equipment, agricultural equipment, or trucks. Students can earn either an AAS or a Diesel Mechanics diploma. While tuition is a little more than at some schools, many industry partnerships provide numerous scholarships. The school has about 1,500 undergraduates and a 100% acceptance rate.
- Scholarships available
- Career prep for working with trucks and other heavy equipment
- Numerous campus activities promote good student life
Where to Apply
South Seattle College
Automotive Mechanics is one of the most popular majors at this school, which has a little over 2,000 students and an acceptance rate of 100%. Students can work towards an AAS and ASE certification. The program is supported by local industry professionals, industry manufacturers, and local dealers.
- Beautiful campus
- Activities available for the students
- Commitment to stay current with industry trends
- Faculty and staff do not have the highest ratings
Where to Apply
Attending Hallmark University is competitive, with the acceptance rate around 39%. The school is very small, with under 900 students. Most students report a very positive, engaging, and supportive atmosphere. While there is no Automotive Mechanics program, there is an Aircraft Maintenance major available.
- Small class sizes and lots of personal attention
- No Automotive Mechanics Program
Where to Apply
School of Automotive Machinists
This school is for someone who has a strong inclination towards working with machines. At the School of Automotive Machinists (SAM Tech), you can study the in-depth aspects of automotive repair. Programs include Automotive Engine/Block Machining, Automotive Engine/Cylinder Head Machining, CNC Machining, Automotive Engine/Block & Cylinder Head Machining Certificate, EFI Calibration, and Automotive Engine/Block & Cylinder Head Machining Associate Degree. Graduates have gone on to work for NASCAR, NHRA, and IndyCar. The school is small, with about 160 students.
- Median salary 6 years after graduation is over $50,000
- Lots of lab time
- Access to a full shop complete with tools
- Quality interaction between teachers and students
- High student reviews
- High tuition
Where to Apply
Western Technical College – Wisconsin
There are three Automotive programs at Western Technical College, a small community school with around 1,700 students and a 100% acceptance rate. The programs are accredited by NATEF and prepare students for the ASE. All the basics of automotive repair are taught, and students can work on student/faculty cars in the shop.
Graduates of these programs go on to work in repair shops, service shops, and dealerships. Students can prepare for a career as a service technician, studying diagnostic equipment, emission control devices, computerized engine control systems, input sensors, output devices, and exhaust systems, among other aspects of the job. Students who complete a program receive a technical diploma.
- Excellent facilities
- Hands-on learning
- In-depth programs
- No pathway for an Associate’s Degree
Where to Apply
Pittsburg State University
Pittsburg State University offers both 2 and 4-year programs in the automotive field, with graduates earning either an AAS or a BS. Should they choose, automotive students can also study business and management as it applies to their major. As Universities go, Pittsburg State is small, with around 5,000 students.
The school has exceptional career services and industry events on campus. Networking with other automotive students on campus is facilitated through student organizations. For these reasons, the recruitment rate of graduates in the automotive industry is exceptionally high.
- Opportunities to earn an AAS or a BS
- Classes related to business and management
- High job placement after graduation
- Exceptional career services
- Positive interactions with other automotive students
- Sports teams, student organizations, and activities on-campus
- Tuition higher than some automotive programs
Where to Apply
The Best of the Best: Which Auto Mechanic School Should You Choose?
Choosing an auto mechanic school is a big decision. You will invest a lot of money and time into your studies, and you want to make sure you have the best experience possible. There are many programs available, from certificates at schools with under 200 students to BS degrees at big universities. Here are some schools that stand out, for us.
Best Auto Mechanic School for Education and Career Placement
Without considering cost, Pittsburg State University has one of the best programs, overall. It is a place where you can learn all about the automotive industry and receive extensive support from your teachers, peers, and the folks at Career Services. While you study, you will also enjoy a very active student life.
Best Budget Auto Mechanic School
Lake Area Technical Institute is a great choice if your budget is a big concern. At Lake Area, you can pursue an AAS, and tuition is under $3,000. The program is also fully accredited, hands-on, and taught in excellent facilities.