For those interested in becoming an automotive technician, community colleges across the country offer degree and certificate programs. These programs typically take five semesters to complete and can lead to an Associate of Applied Science degree. In addition to a degree, some schools also offer certifications that can help students advance in the field and increase job opportunities.
Many community college programs are endorsed by the companies that produce the vehicles, such as GM’s Professional Automotive Career Training (PACT), Ford’s Automotive Student Service Education Training (ASSET) and Mopar’s Chrysler College Automotive Program (MCAP). Students in these programs spend alternating quarters at a sponsoring dealership working on actual vehicles alongside professors to get hands-on experience.
One such program, ACC’s auto center, is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). This designation is based on a rigorous evaluation of an educational training program using professional industry standards. To become a part of this program, students must pass a background check and drug screening and be able to successfully complete physics, math and computer classes. Students who don’t meet these requirements can be dropped from the program.
ACC’s program was recently featured in an article by a Virginia newspaper, with the program’s director saying that the school is “pushing more students to obtain an associate degree” rather than just a training certificate and predicting that there will be a greater demand for automotive technicians with degrees. The program attracts students from all over the state because of its manufacturing partnerships. The school’s recently opened Regional Automotive Center cost $10.1 million and features 15 garage bays, a space big enough for tractor-trailer repairs and nine classrooms.