Have you always loved working on cars but want to take your skills and knowledge to the next level? Can you envision yourself as the foreman of a bustling automotive shop? Do you enjoy working with teams and getting your hands dirty?
Then a degree or certification in Automotive Technology may be the next move for you!
If you’re interested in trade school or associate-level degrees, check out our ranking of the Best Online Community Colleges.
What kind of Automotive Technology degree should you get?
Though most Automotive Technology certificates and degrees provide foundational training in vehicle design, diagnosis, and repair, each comes with its own emphases and specializations. Some schools stress the importance of theory as much as application. While others put you in the shop right away.
The programs below offer everything from a nine-month certification to a full four-year degree. While the former will get you entry-level access to the shop, the latter sets you up to attain leadership and management positions.
Whichever program feels right for you, just make sure it’s one that will adequately prepare you for the certification exams after graduation.
How much money do people make with an Automotive Technology certificate or degree?
Depending on the degree you get, and therefore the position you acquire after graduation, you can find yourself earning between $10 to $26 an hour. This translates roughly to $22,000 to $62,000 annually. Though you may only have the time and resources for certification now, it’s wise to think about advanced education later, as salaries rise commensurate to degree experience.
Not only are there financial perks, but automotive technology offers job stability. It’s projected that another 47,000 jobs will open for mechanics and technicians in the next ten years. As long as people drive cars, there will be a need for someone with a degree in automotive technology.
What are the requirements for an Automotive Technology certificate or degree?
Most of these programs have open acceptance policies. Meaning, you only have to show you’re passionate about Automotive Technology to find yourself enrolled. Once accepted, you can anticipate foundational classes in engine repair, diagnostics, drivetrains, power and performance, and more.
Of course, the curriculum varies widely depending on the program. While certification will give you a basic grasp of all things Automotive Tech, a four-year bachelor degree offers the opportunity to explore such unique topics as alternative fuel or the history of the automobile.
What are the best Automotive Technology programs?
While some of these programs specialize in alternative fuels and others emphasize leadership formation, they all share one thing one common: they are the best at training future Automotive Technicians. Whether you hope to work in repair or design, one of these programs will get you where you want to go.
To determine the best Automotive Technology programs we started first with the reputation of each program in the nation and then looked into graduation rates, retention rates, affordability, and the early salaries of graduates.
After such research, our final list offers the 20 best Automotive Technology programs in the country. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $20,522
Located in the Kansan town of the same name, McPherson College is a liberal arts school. With only around 700 students, McPherson is a small college, but one that distinctively provides both a four-year liberal arts education as well as career and professional training.
The only school to offer a full bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration, McPherson also has programs in automotive technology, automotive communications, and historic automotive technology. However you specialize, core automotive classes at McPherson cover:
- History of the Automobile
- Machining Technology
- Engine Rebuilding
- Research and Documentation
McPherson is known for its student-centric model of education. It requires new students to enroll in the Academic Community Essentials program, through which they create a degree plan, complete a service project, develop a career goal, and explore internship possibilities. This has led to great success in post-graduation employment rates.
Montana State University-Northern
College Choice Score: 98.94
Average Net Price: $10,523
This branch in the wider Montana State University System is located in Havre. Northern is a small university with under 1,200 undergraduates. However, it offers degrees at the certification, associate, bachelor, and master’s levels.
MSU Northern offers both an AAS and BS in Automotive Technology. Both programs provide a comprehensive introduction to the fundamentals of modern vehicles. And you will graduate from MSU Northern ready to successfully pass any of the Automotive Service Excellence certification tests. Some of the classes you’ll take while at MSU Northern include:
- Alternative Automotive Power Systems
- Shop Procedures
- Current Trends Mobility Tech
MSU Northern uniquely combines liberal arts and technology education to provide professional training in everything from engineering to humanities. Northern is also located near four Native American reservations and works hard to serve those communities.
Universal Technical Institute
College Choice Score: 97.23
Average Net Price: $16,995
Universal Technical Institute (UTI) has locations around the country. It specializes in providing technical career training for students who want to go into automotive, diesel, and collision repair. UTI also offers training programs for future motorcycle and marine technicians. Over 10,000 students attend UTI.
UTI offers an Automotive Technology Training program that takes under one year to complete. Through UTI you will learn to diagnose, maintain, and repair both domestic and international vehicles alike. Your UTI classes will include:
- Automotive Engines and Repair
- Professional Service Writing
- Power and Performance
- Driveability and Emissions Repair
UTI has graduated over 200,000 technicians since opening its doors 50 years ago. They have also built a reputation for leading their students toward successful careers. For example, UTI’s Employment Services Team connects each student with an industry professional or organization before graduation.
Southern Adventist University
College Choice Score: 96.56
Average Net Price: $21,540
A Seventh-day Adventist school Southern Adventist University (SAU) is located in Collegedale, Tennessee. SAU offers degrees at all academic levels, from associate to doctorate. And as part of the larger Adventist church, it offers a faith-based approach to education. Over 3,000 students attend.
Southern Adventist University offers certifications as well as associate and bachelor degrees in auto service. This is an ideal program for those who still want a small college experience, as SAU provides a liberal arts education in addition to their trade training. Some of the courses you’ll take SAU include:
- Engine Performance and Computers
- Auto Electrical Systems
- Arc Welding
- Principles of Entrepreneurship
Of all the Adventist colleges and universities in the country, SAU is considered the most conservative. But is also considered one of the best universities in its region by U.S. News & World Report. Likewise, The Princeton Review has called it one of “the Best in the Southeast.”
New England Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 95.60
Average Net Price: $28,183
Located in Rhode Island, the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) is a private school. It offers associate, bachelor, and even master’s degrees in over 50 areas of study and professional training. Many of NEIT’s programs are offered online too.
At NEIT you can earn an Associate’s in Automotive Technology degree. Through NEIT’s program you will be experience a balanced education that considers both the theoretical and practical applications of automotive technology. For example, a sampling of NEIT’s classes includes:
- Automotive Engines (plus Lab)
- Vehicle Service Practices with Career Preparation
- Transportation Industry
- Plus an internship or practical experience
The New England Institute of Technology campus is home to several technical training and research centers. Among them, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium has a training facility located on NEIT’s campus.
Northern Michigan University
College Choice Score: 92.83
Average Net Price: $12,667
Northern Michigan University (NMU) is located in the state’s Upper Peninsula, in the city of Marquette. It is a public, four-year university with over 8,000 enrolled students. NMU is organized into four colleges through which it offers nearly 200 academic degrees.
Earning an Automotive Service Certificate at Northern Michigan means you will be fully prepared for positions in automotive service and sales alike. NMU offers two tracks for its students: the automotive technician pathway or the mobile equipment technician pathway. Classes cover:
- Automotive Lab/Industry Safety
- Powertrain Fundamentals
- Engine Repair
- Electrical Systems I and II
Though a mid-sized university offering diverse degree experiences, Northern Michigan has a reputation for its strengths in career and trade training. This is evidenced by the Teaching, Learning, and Communication initiative, which provides each student with a laptop computer.
Utah Valley University
College Choice Score: 91.75
Average Net Price: $6,738
Located in Orem, Utah Valley University (UVU) is the state’s largest university. Over 38k undergraduate and graduate students attend UVU, enrolled in one of the school’s 150 academic programs. UVU is known for excellent accreditations and low tuition rates.
There are many ways to study automotive technology at UVU, by specializing in collision repair, diesel mechanics, street rod, technology management, and more. Many of these programs take around a couple years to complete. For example, the Automotive Technology degree is organized two year of courses covering:
- Engine Electrical Systems
- Suspension and Steering Systems
- Automotive HVACR
- Electronic Fuel Management Systems
UVU is included in the academic and university rankings put out by Forbes. And it is frequently recognized for its successful showings at national business contests. For example, UVU recently placed well in both the Phi Beta Lambda and Delta Epsilon Chi business competitions.
Pittsburg State University
College Choice Score: 91.69
Average Net Price: $12,967
Pittsburg State University (PSU) is located in Pittsburg, Kansas. It is a public university with around 8k students, most of whom are undergraduates. And PSU is organized into four schools and colleges, including the highly regarded College of Technology.
At Pittsburg State you can either enroll in the two-year Automotive Service Program or the four-year Automotive Technology program. Both will provide a solid foundation in all things automotive, from engine repair to electronic systems. And both allow you to further specialize. Some emphases areas include (but are not limited to):
- Automotive Collision Repair and Insurance Management
- Automotive Dealership and Corporate Transportation Management
- Automotive Mechanical Design
- Automotive Diesel and Heavy Equipment
The PSU campus houses many research centers and facilities. Among them are the Business and Technology Institute and the Kansas Polymer Research Center. Pitt State is also ranked 87th among all colleges and universities located in the Midwest.
Walla Walla University
College Choice Score: 91.48
Average Net Price: $23,782
Walla Walla University (WWU) is located in College Place, Washington State (just outside of Walla Walla). It offers a liberal arts education as well as professional and technical training. WWU is a pretty small school with just under 2,000 students.
Walla Walla University offers an AS in Automotive Technology degree plus another two BS automotive degrees, one in technology and the other in management. Regardless of which degree you acquire, all prepare you for work in automotive service and repair, and all ready you for the industry certification exams. Some of the classes you’ll take at WWU include:
- Advanced Engine Performance
- Bod Electronics and Computer Systems
- Diesel Engine Performance
- Hybrids and Alternative Fuels
Walla Walla University has been recognized as one of the “100 Best Regional Universities” in the Pacific Northwest by U.S. News & World Report. It is also known for its departmental strengths in business, biology, engineering, nursing, and education.
Indiana State University
College Choice Score: 88.07
Average Net Price: $10,681
Located in Terre Haute, Indiana State University (ISU) is a public school. It offers over 100 undergraduate degrees plus another 75 graduate and professional degrees. ISU is comprised of six academic colleges, in technology, health services, education, and the arts and science.
The BS in Automotive Engineering Technology degree from Indiana State University emphasizes management and leadership in addition to automotive operations. Thus, this is an ideal program for those who want to go into quality control, service management, customer service, or business ownership. Classes cover:
- Industrial Supervision
- Technical Drawing with CAD
- Fixed Operations Management
- Automotive Electronics
The Princeton Review names ISU as among the “Best in the Midwest” nearly every year. Likewise, Washington Monthly ranks it 71st among all colleges and universities in the U.S. Finally, ISU is known for its huge Cunningham Memorial Library, which houses a collection exceeding two million items.
Minnesota State University, Mankato
College Choice Score: 86.18
Average Net Price: $13,812
Minnesota State University in Mankato (MNSU) was originally founded as a teacher’s school. Today it offers over 200 academic programs across all degree levels. MNSU is the second largest university in Minnesota and one of the oldest too.
MNSU offers a full four-year degree in Automotive Engineering Technology. In this program you will study the design, development, testing, and maintenance of vehicles. Graduates have gone on to find work in industrial and agricultural equipment, recreational vehicle service and sales, manufacturing, and more. MNSU’s curriculum includes:
- Automotive Technology and Systems
- Manufacturing Process I and II
- Junior Design Project
- Project and Value Management
MNSU is the flagship school in the greater Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. It is considered the most comprehensive university in the system. And it is regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly.
University of Central Missouri
College Choice Score: 85.46
Average Net Price: $13,567
A public state school, the University of Central Missouri (UCM) is located in Warrensburg, Missouri. UCM offers more than 150 areas of study through its four academic divisions. Over 14,000 graduate and undergraduate students attend UCM.
The University of Central Missouri offers an Automotive Technology Management degree that focuses on leadership formation. The stats speak for themselves: UCM boasts employment rates of 90 percent among its graduates. That’s within six months after graduation. And at UCM you can specialize in one of three ways:
- Automotive Technology
- Design Technology
- Service Management
U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Central Missouri 87th among regional universities in the Midwest. However, among all top public schools, it places UCM 21st. On top of its academic recognitions, UCM is known for its vibrant student life, with over 200 student-led organizations on campus.
Brigham Young University - Idaho
College Choice Score: 83.14
Average Net Price: $8,344
Brigham Young University (BYU) is a Mormon university located in Salt Lake City, Hawaii, and in Rexburg, Idaho. The latter is is a liberal arts university with more than 18k students. It is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which shows in the school’s curriculum and code of conduct.
BYU offers an Auto Service Technology certificate through their Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. This 13 credit hour program can be applied to another degree program, as supplemental education, or it can stand alone. It will, regardless, give you a foundational understanding of automotive technology. Some of the classes include:
- Electrical Systems
- Engine Performance
- Drive Trains
- Vehicle Electronics
BYU is ranked 13th among all regional colleges in the west, by U.S. News & World Report. It is also known for its departmental rankings and strengths in engineering, agriculture, management, and across the STEM fields.
College Choice Score: 81.66
Average Net Price: $9,922
Located in Vincennes, Indiana, Vincennes University (VU) is a public school. VU offers degrees primarily in the areas of education, nursing, technology, homeland security, and information management. Nearly 20,000 students attend VU.
This Automotive Service Technology certificate from VU can be completed in a year. It is organized into two terms and requires the completion of 30 credit hours. While introducing you to all the fundamentals of automotive tech, this program emphasizes chassis systems, engine systems, and electrical systems. VU’s classes include:
- Transportation Fundamentals
- Automotive Chassis System
- Automotive Electronics (plus Lab)
- Transportation Electrical (plus Lab)
Vincennes is known as a military-friendly university. Its VU Military Education Program works closely with active-duty members, guard members, and student veterans to provide specific services and resources such as advisement and counseling.
Idaho State University
College Choice Score: 78.92
Average Net Price: $13,301
Idaho State University (ISU) is located in Pocatello, Idaho. It is a huge public research school boasting nearly 300 academic programs and 14k undergraduate and graduate students. Despite its size, ISU maintains a small student-teacher ratio of 17:1.
There are three ways to study automotive technology at ISU. You can earn an associate’s degree, which takes two years. You can earn certification in a year and a half. Or you can pursue the full four-year bachelor of science program. All will set you up to find rewarding work in:
- Auto repair shops
- Automotive dealerships
- Auto supply stores
- Exhaust and transmission specialty shops
Idaho State University is considered the leading health and medical institution in the state of Idaho. Similarly, ISU is included among the academic rankings from Forbes and Washington Monthly. And it is also designated a military-friendly school, ranked among the top 15 percent of colleges and universities that provide services to veterans and active-duty members.
Lincoln College of Technology
College Choice Score: 76.51
Average Net Price: $26,437
Part of greater the Lincoln Tech organization, which is operated out of West Orange, New Jersey, Lincoln College of Technology is a vocational school. It offers degrees and certifications primarily in the automotive repair trades.
At Lincoln Tech you will learn how to fully assemble and dissect engines, transmissions, and transaxles. You learn how to diagnose problems and offer solutions. And you’ll have the opportunity to connect with leaders in the industry. Some of the classes you can expect to take during your time at Lincoln Tech include:
- Driving Your Performance
- Engine Repair and Performance Tuning
- Driveability Diagnostics
- Transmission and Drive Lines
The greater Lincoln Tech group is committed to a student-centric model of education. This means there are a number of scholarship opportunities for students. Lincoln also offers an exhaustive career services program that works to ensure job success after graduation and beyond.
New York Automotive and Diesel Institute
College Choice Score: 74.51
Average Net Price: $18,995
Located in Jamaica, New York, the New York Automotive and Diesel Institute (NYADI) offers trade training in automotive repair and tech. With classes starting every three weeks, it’s possible to jump into job training right away. Students can even qualify for financial aid.
Earn either a certificate or a full associate’s degree in Automotive Technology at NYADI. Coursework for both is notably balanced between theory and hands-on application. For example, at NYADI you can anticipate taking the following mix of courses:
- College Reading and Writing
- Manual Drive Trains and Axles
- The Automobile and Society
- Engine Repair
At NYADI students have access to an extensive amount of automotive and diesel research facilities, laboratories, libraries, and computing software. NYADI also partners closely with students to guarantee stable and lucrative employment after graduation from one of its programs.
College Choice Score: 70.08
Average Net Price: $24,758
WyoTech was originally founded as the Wyoming Technical Institute. Based in Laramie, Wyoming, WyoTech also has campuses throughout the state. It offers advanced training in a range of trade fields, from construction to upholstery technology, motorsports fabrication, and automotive diagnostics.
Through WyoTech’s Automotive Technology programs students spend time both in the classroom and in the shop. This means you’ll gain a fundamental understanding of vehicle tech then learn how to apply that knowledge to real-world shop problems. WyoTech’s core covers:
- Basic Engine Management Systems
- Drivability Diagnostics
- Drivetrain Systems
WyoTech’s programs are all offered in nine-month completion models. Meaning, students take six months of core courses in their area of study, then another three months of electives. This allows students to get a broad-based education while also specializing.
University of Northwestern Ohio
College Choice Score: 69.80
Average Net Price: $15,396
The University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) is located in Lima, Ohio. Organized into five academic colleges and schools, UNOH offers more than 60 degree programs. UNOH is a relatively small university with under 5,000 enrolled students.
At UNOH you can earn a diploma, associate, or bachelor degree in Automotive Technology. These programs, while introducing vehicle tech concepts, are 70 percent hands-on. Plus, you can specialize in diesel technology, high performance technology, or management. Some of the classes required for each program include:
- Electrical and Electronics I and II
- Manual and Automatic Drive Trains
- Engine Diagnosis and Repair
- Engine Performance
Though UNOH proffers degrees in a range of areas, from business to medical and health sciences, it is most known for the following departments: high performance motorsports, alternative fuels, automotive and diesel studies, and more. UNOH is designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the six original Alternate Fuels training sites.
Automotive Training Center
College Choice Score: 69.36
Average Net Price: $12,770
The Automotive Training Center (ATC) celebrated its 100 year anniversary this year. Throughout its long history ATC has consistently provided training in automotive technology, diesel technology, collision recondition technology, and marine service technology.
ATC’s Automotive Technology programs train students to diagnose, service, and repair vehicles of all makes and models, both foreign and domestic. There are also a number of ways to specialize, in diesel technology, hi-performance technology, collision reconditioning, and more. ATC graduates have gone on to become:
- Automotive Technicians
- Service and Parts Managers
- Shop Foremans
- Service and Repair Business Owners
ATC has won many industry-specific awards. For example, it is the National Winner of the Award for Excellence in Automotive Training, a recognition given by the Automotive Industry Planning Council and the Automotive Service Excellence organizations.