Virginia has numerous 2-year colleges that offer both associate's degrees and certificates in the automotive technology field, with certificates being the most common. The curricula for most programs includes education on both basic and advanced diagnostic and repair technology. Some programs may also offer specific courses in different brands of automobiles, different types of engines or different vehicle parts. Many of these programs provide working experience for their students, which may also include an internship or other off-campus work. In addition, some programs may prepare students to take industry exams.
Students are prepared for entry-level positions in automotive shops or dealerships. For students desiring to focus in heavy-duty or diesel engines, four of the schools below offer programs of study specifically in the field.
Danville Community College
Danville Community College, located in Danville, offers both an associate program and certificate in automotive studies.
For degree-seeking students, the Associate of Applied Science in business management with automotive management specialization teaches students about managerial processes within the automotive field. Curriculum explores automotive systems and automotive electricity, as well as business strategies. The automotive systems courses provide advanced theory and hands-on study, while the interpersonal dynamics in the business organization class provides instruction on meetings, mentoring and running a successful workplace. Students must complete 69 total credit hours to graduate.
Students may also choose to pursue an auto body mechanics certificate. The program focuses heavily on advanced repair techniques. Curriculum includes work with welding and damage repair estimation. Students are also required to complete an internship, project or research report in the automotive body mechanics field prior to program completion.
Germanna Community College
Situated in Locust Grove, Germanna Community College hosts both an automotive technician certificate program and an automotive diagnostician certificate program for non-degree seeking students.
The 24-credit-hour automotive technician certificate centers on car repair and operation of various engine systems. In classes like automotive engines I and II, students analyze power and study cylinder condition. Braking and electrical systems are also covered.
Students pursuing the automotive diagnostician certificate are required to complete 26 total credit hours. The curriculum focuses on fuel systems and power trains, with additional courses on climate control and electronics. Both required power train classes review components and operation for both automatic and manual systems.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond provides students with the opportunity to pursue either an Associate of Applied Science in automotive technology or an automotive technology certificate.
Curriculum for the associate degree program includes engines, electricity, ignition systems and tune-up education. Prior to graduation, students are required to gain hands-on experience through a cooperative education course. Students enrolled in the associate program have the choice to pursue the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training program or the General Motors Automotive Service Educational program. Each respective program allows students to specialize and attain either Ford certification or GM certification while simultaneously earning college credit for completed courses.
For non-degree-seeking students, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College offers a certificate program in automotive technology. The program's required coursework includes the study of engine operations, braking systems, alignment, suspension and steering. During the automotive climate control class, students learn about air conditioning operation and basic servicing skills. Students must complete 32 total credit hours prior to graduation.
New River Community College
Situated in Dublin, New River Community College offers a diploma program for automotive analysis and repair. Students are required to complete 61 total credit hours in classes like automotive electricity, automotive braking systems, high efficiency fuel systems, auto heating and air conditioning. The program devotes 25% of coursework to general education and field preparation courses, such as college skills I and critical reading and study skills. An internship or technical elective is required for program completion.
Northern Virginia Community College
Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale offers several associate degree and career studies certificate programs in automotive technology. Degree-seeking students can choose to specialize in emissions. Non-degree seeking students can choose among an automotive maintenance, collision repair or diesel mechanics certificate.
Students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in automotive technology are required to complete a total of 68 to 69 credit hours over a suggested five-semester program. Introductory courses review the shop environment and orient students to engine and fuel systems. By the third semester, students begin study of advanced detail automotive systems in courses like auto power trains I and auto power trains II. Both classes explore the construction and repair of power train systems. Curriculum also includes classes on fuel systems, automotive electricity and braking systems.
Students choosing to pursue a degree in automotive technology with a specialization in emissions must complete both the emissions systems diagnosis/repair class as well as the advanced ASM emissions diagnostics course. Students explore the causes of vehicle emissions test failures and learn to diagnosis and repair complex failure cases.
Northern Virginia Community College also offers a career studies certificate in automotive maintenance and light repair. The 19-credit-hour program covers basic operation of automotive climate control, electricity, braking systems, alignment, suspension and steering. Students are prepared for entry-level positions in the field.
Diesel engines, suspension, steering and electrical systems for public transit vehicles are introduced in the first term of the diesel mechanic technology certificate program. Students explore the construction of diesel engines and power trains during the first semester. During the second semester, curriculum gets more advanced with the study of two-stroke and four-stroke cycle diesel engines, truck electrical systems and mobile hydraulics.
Patrick Henry Community College
Patrick Henry Community College, located in Martinsville, offers five different certificate programs for non-degree seeking students.
The school's automotive technology certificate devotes 39 of the 48 required credit hours to field-specific courses. Students explore multiple automotive systems including automotive engines, anti-pollution systems and emission systems. During the shop management course, students learn about cost and personnel management, as well as customer relations.
The certificate program in auto body technology prepares students for entry-level positions in auto body repair. Curriculum covers metal operation, paint preparation and automotive painting. Students learn straightening operations and also work with thinners, primers and rubbing compounds. Three credit-hours are devoted to on-the-job training in a coordinated internship.
For students interested in high performance racing engines, Patrick Henry Community College has a motorsports technician certificate program. During the 27-credit-hour program, students take courses in stock car engines, high performance engine induction systems and pit stop operations. In the stock car engines I class students study cylinder block configuration and classification, as well as lubrication systems.
The motorsports fabrication and set up technology certificate program provides education on the production and repair of high performance race vehicles. Curriculum includes instruction on structural technology, pit stop operation and welding. Students take three separate race car setup courses where they work with wheelbase setup and weight distribution. Students also complete a project or research report on race car setup prior to graduation.
Southside Virginia Community College
Southside Virginia Community College in Blackstone provides students with the opportunity to pursue three different certificates in automotive technology.
Students can choose to pursue a certificate in automotive diagnosis and tune-up. The program can be completed in one year over three semesters. Students are introduced to basic shop practices and the skills needed to diagnosis and repair various vehicle systems. In the automotive fuel system I course, students work with both domestic and foreign engine systems. Fuel tank, filters, fuel pumps and turbo chargers are all addressed during the program.
The school's automotive technician training certificate program features courses on braking and fuel systems, automotive engines and electrical systems. During the introduction to automotive shop practices course, students learn about shop equipment and shop maintenance. The program runs for three consecutive, eight-week sessions and start dates are available throughout the year.
The diesel technician training certificate is for students looking to specialize in diesel-powered cars, trucks and heavy equipment. The program runs for three, eight-week sessions and requires completion of 36 credit hours. During the diesel mechanics I and II classes, students review fuel injection, pistons, preventative maintenance and troubleshooting operations. Shop procedures and air brake systems are also included during the third semester.
Tidewater Community College
Located in Norfolk, Tidewater Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science in automotive technology, as well as multiple career studies certificate programs that prepare students for work within the automotive field.
Degree-seeking students can choose to enroll in the school's automotive technology associate program. Required coursework includes eight diagnostic classes that review the electrical, steering, brakes, climate control and engine performance systems. The program also offers training specific to Toyota, Honda or Chrysler vehicles. These company-specific programs follow a standard automotive technology curriculum but are taught with the tools and criteria of the corresponding manufacturer.
The certificate program in automotive chassis systems reviews basic and advanced diagnostics used to repair suspension, steering and braking systems. The automotive diagnostics VI course helps students prepare for the Virginia State Inspection Exam and ASE tests on steering and suspension.
Tidewater Community College also offers a career studies certificate in automotive electronics. Study is centered on the diagnosis and repair of automotive electrical systems, as well as air conditioning and heating systems. The program helps students prepare for ASE-certification in electrical/electronic systems and heating and air conditioning through three diagnostic courses. Students are required to complete an internship prior to graduation.
The 25-credit-hour certificate program in engine performance is also available. Through three separate diagnostic courses, students learn various diagnostic operations on multiple heavy-duty systems including lubrication systems, cooling systems and front wheel drive components. An internship is required during the last semester for certificate completion.
Virginia Highlands Community College
Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon offers two cooperative certificate programs in automotive technology.
The automotive technology cooperative career studies certificate is offered through a dual-enrollment at Neff Vocational School, where students complete coursework required for program completion. Once enrolled at both facilities, students learn to diagnose and repair various components of a vehicle including brakes, suspension and steering systems. Students must complete seventeen total credit hours to meet graduation requirements.
The diesel mechanic cooperative career studies certificate is hosted through dual-enrollment with the Washington County Skills Center. Curriculum covers diesel engines, electrical systems and air brake systems. During the diesel power trains, chassis, and transmissions class, students study the assembly and operating principles of power train components. A majority of the program's 25-credit hours are dedicated to hands-on lab time.
Virginia Western Community College
Situated in Roanoke, Virginia Western Community College offers an automotive analysis and repair career studies certificate. Students explore the theory and application of automotive maintenance and repair in classes like automotive electric skills, automotive braking systems and automotive alignment. To obtain the certificate, students must complete a minimum of seventeen total credit hours.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Auto Mechanic Training Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Danville Community College||2-year, public; Small city||Associate of Applied Science in Business Management with Automotive Management Specialization,
Auto Body Mechanics Certificate
|$4,365 (in-state); $10,203 (out-of-state)*|
|Germanna Community College||2-year, public; Rural||Automotive Technician Certificate,
Automotive Diagnostician Certificate
|$4,560 (in-state); $10,398 (out-of-state)*|
|J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College||2-year, public; Large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology,
Automotive Technology Certificate
|$4,653 (in-state); $10,491 (out-of-state)*|
|New River Community College||2-year, public; Rural||Automotive Analysis and Repair Diploma||$4,352 (in-state); $10,190 (out-of-state)*|
|Northern Virginia Community College||2-year, public; Large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology,
Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology with Emissions Specialization,
Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair Career Studies Certificate,
Diesel Mechanics Technology Career Studies Certificate
|$5,138 (in-state); $11,055 (out-of-state)*|
|Patrick Henry Community College||2-year, public; Rural||Automotive Technology Certificate,
Auto Body Technology Certificate,
Motorsports Technician Certificate
|$4,360 (in-state); $10,198 (out-of-state)*|
|Southside Virginia Community College||2-year, public; Distant Rural||Automotive Diagnosis and Tune-Up Certificate,
Automotive Technician Certificate,
Diesel Mechanic/Technician Certificate
|$4,350 (in-state); $10,188 (out-of-state)*|
|Tidewater Community College||2-year, public; Midsize city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology,
Automotive Chassis Systems Career Studies Certificate,
Automotive Electrical, Electronics Career Studies Certificate,
Automotive Engine Performance Career Studies Certificate
|$5,171 (in-state); $11,009 (out-of-state)*|
|Virginia Highlands Community College||2-year, public; Town||Automotive Technology Cooperative Career Studies Certificate,
Diesel Mechanic Cooperative Career Studies Certificate
|$4,365 (in-state); $10,203 (out-of-state)*|
|Virginia Western Community College||2-year, public; Small city||Automotive Analysis and Repair Career Studies Certificate||$4,713 (in-state); $10,551 (out-of-state)*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics