Several community, technical and other 2-year colleges in Minnesota offer auto repair training through diploma and associate degree programs. General automotive service certificate programs as well as specialized ones in such areas as auto body estimation, brake and suspension systems, automotive electronics and custom fabrication are also available. These programs take from a semester to two years to complete, and hands-on training with automobiles is an important part of the programs.
Colleges and universities affiliated with the Minnesota State College and University (MNSCU) system, including several of those profiled below, offer in-state tuition rates to non-resident students. Certain neighboring states, such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, may have additional reciprocity agreements with MNSCU schools that cause slight differences in the tuition rates, so prospective students from those states are advised to check with their school of choice.
Central Lakes College
Students interested in auto repair can pursue an automotive technology diploma at this Brainerd-based college. During the 11-month program, students learn to analyze and repair multiple automotive system issues. Students attend courses in engine repair, brakes, climate systems and transmissions. The program also addresses workplace skills in two courses on problem-solving, communication and teamwork. A total of 44 credit hours are required prior to graduation.
Located in White Bear Lake, Century College offers students both a diploma and certificate program in the automotive service field. The school's diploma program requires completion of 64 credit hours. Courses cover multiple aspects of vehicle service, including engines, electrical systems and emissions. Students learn to test and analyze information from engine microcomputer systems during the computerized engine control course. The program is designed to prepare students for ASE certification tests in multiple areas.
Students pursuing a certificate in basic automotive service take courses in multiple areas of vehicle repair. Courses are offered in braking systems, suspension, vehicle alignment and electrical systems. The program requires completion of 27 credit hours, with no general education course requirements, and is designed to prepare graduates to test in four areas of ASE certification.
Hennepin Technical College
Located in Brooklyn Park, Hennepin Technical College offers an associate degree program and multiple diploma and certificate programs in auto repair. Students pursuing the 72-credit auto body technician Associate of Applied Science degree learn to repair vehicles affected by corrosion or collision damage. Courses on welding, metal straightening and painting provide opportunities for skill development for those looking to work at an independent shop or dealership. Students are required to complete an internship prior to graduation. Students can also pursue a 64-credit automotive body technician diploma.
Hennepin Technical College offers several occupational certificate programs related to auto body repair. Focusing on repair estimates and customer relations, the auto body estimator certificate requires nine credit hours and an 80-hour internship. In the 19-credit custom fabrication and finishing certificate program, students learn skills in color matching and blending. The 16-credit-hour certificate program in non-structural repair prepares students for work with panel replacement, glass and body filler through coursework and an internship. The 17-credit-hour occupational certificate program for refinishing technician assistants covers skills needed for small detailing jobs.
Finally, students may also choose to pursue an advanced technical certificate in structural repair technician assistant. The 16-credit-hour program reviews repair of various vehicle parts and systems, including panel replacement and restraint systems. Students choose four credit hours in electives, which may include an internship, for program completion.
Lake Superior College
Duluth-based Lake Superior College hosts one associate degree program, three diploma programs and one certificate program in the auto repair field. The 72-credit-hour associate degree program in auto service technology program teaches students how to diagnose and repair engines as well as other vehicle parts, including those belonging to electrical, braking and fuel systems. The program also includes 16 liberal education credits. The school's 64-credit auto service technology diploma program differs little from the associate degree program. Courses on transmission systems, shop management and brake systems are designed to prepare graduates to ASE certification tests.
The school offers additional diploma programs in auto body repair. The auto body and chassis technician diploma requires completion of 64 credit hours. Courses cover skills needed to repair panels, windows, body damage and mechanical components. The 33-credit auto body technology diploma program covers dent repair, frame repair and refinishing.
Finally, Lake Superior College offers a certificate program in brakes and suspension systems. During the 28-credit-hour program, students learn to diagnose and repair vehicle components that affect handling and braking. Courses include steering systems and shop management.
Northland Community and Technical College
Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls offers six programs to prepare students for careers in the auto repair field. Students seeking an Associate of Applied Science degree in automotive service technology are required to complete a total of 72 credits in courses like wheel alignment, automotive computers and engine overhaul. Most courses are split between lecture and lab time. Students also complete 15 credits in general education courses for graduation requirements.
The school's automotive service technology diploma program covers multiple areas of vehicle repair, including hybrid vehicle systems. The 64-credit-hour program also includes courses on electrical systems, engine performance and HVAC components. Students complete an engine overhaul lab, where they completely disassemble and reassemble an engine. Certificate programs are also available in automotive electronics and drivability (an 18-credit-hour program) and automotive engine repair, suspension and brakes (17 credit hours).
The college also hosts an Associate of Applied Science degree program in auto body collision technology. Students are required to complete 72 credit hours. Coursework includes sanding, weld rust repair and air bag component replacement. Both minor and major collision damage repair are included in the curriculum. Students may pursue a 66-credit auto body collision diploma, as well.
Located in Willmar, Ridgewater College offers certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in auto repair. The 72-credit-hour associate degree program in automotive service technology prepares students for work with both routine maintenance and advanced diagnostic issues. Students take courses in engine performance, automatic transmissions and electrical systems. One course requirement, general shop, allows students to complete hands-on work in a real shop environment with customers for a flat-rate fee. Students may also pursue a 65-credit diploma, which includes classes in small business operation and hands-on shop experience.
A 72-credit associate degree program in auto body collision repair is available. Courses focus on both minor and major collision repair to both internal and external vehicle systems. Coursework in wheel alignment, welding, color matching and glass service is included. Students also complete general education courses. A 66-credit diploma program in auto body collision repair is also available.
Graduates of a two-year auto body program or applicants who have worked in a shop environment for at least four years are eligible to enroll in the school's auto body specialty technician certificate program. Students in the one-year program complete a total of 30 credit hours in courses on shop operations and specialized auto body repair.
Riverland Community College
Riverland Community College in Austin offers diploma and associate degree programs in automotive service technology. Students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology are required to complete 72 credit hours. The program is split between core requirement classes, general education classes and electives. Courses help students develop skills in brake systems, fuels systems and engine diagnosis, among other areas of vehicle repair.
The school's diploma program in automotive service technology requires completion of 69 credit hours, 61 of which are dedicated to core classes. Students study multiple vehicle systems, including brake systems, fuel systems, heating, air conditioning and electronics. Students also complete at least two credit hours in an approved internship.
Saint Paul College
Saint Paul College in Saint Paul offers diploma and associate degree programs in automotive service and auto body repair. For degree-seeking students, the automotive service technician Associate of Applied Science program requires completion of 72 credit hours. The program is designed to prepare students for ASE certification tests through class and lab work in all major vehicle service areas.
The curriculum includes classes in vehicle alignment, engine management, fuel systems and manual transmissions. Students enrolled full-time in the program can complete the required credits in about four semesters. A 69-credit automotive service technician diploma program is also available, which is designed to prepare graduates for work as master technicians.
Saint Paul also offers an Associate of Applied Science program in auto body repair. Students in the 62-credit-hour degree program learn auto body repair techniques, detailing and welding. Courses are designed to prepare students to repair major collision damage. Students can complete the program in three semesters on a full-time basis. In the 49-credit diploma program in auto body repair, students learn how to estimate repair costs and use detailing techniques to repair vehicles with both minor and major collision damage.
South Central College
North Mankato-based South Central College offers diploma and associate degree programs in automotive services and automotive collision technology. In addition to general education courses, the 72-credit associate degree program in automotive services covers a variety of classes in the diagnosis and repair of various vehicle systems and components. Students gain hands-on experience through multiple auto lab classes, in which they can earn billed hours for completed projects. The school's diploma program in automotive services requires completion of 27 technical courses, covering numerous vehicle systems. Students learn engine diagnosis as well as diagnosis and repair of manual and automatic transmission systems through classroom and hands-on lab work.
A 72-credit associate program in auto body and collision technology is also available. Students learn appraising and shop management in addition to repair skills. The diploma program in auto body collision technology has a curriculum similar to the associate degree program but requires only six credit hours of general education courses.
St. Cloud Technical and Community College
Students at St. Cloud Technical and Community College in Saint Cloud can pursue diploma and associate degree programs in general auto repair and auto body repair. The 72-credit associate degree program in automotive service includes courses in general service, engine repair and electronic principles. A course also addresses shop protocol for handling hazardous waste and preventing pollution. A 60-credit automotive service technician diploma is also available. Students in the diploma programs take the automotive service courses offered in the associate degree program but don't complete the same general education requirements.
Students may also pursue an associate degree in auto body collision. The 72-credit-hour program includes courses in damage estimation, welding, color matching and plastic repair. Students also do hands-on work in a class called collision lab. The diploma program in auto body collision, requiring completion of 68 credit hours, is for non-degree seeking students desiring to focus on collision repair rather than general education requirements. The program requires minimal general studies credit hours and includes lab time body work, welding and auto restoration.
All of the programs discussed in this article are accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), the accrediting body of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). NATEF-accredited programs are designed to prepare students for voluntary ASE certifications. Many employers prefer to hire automotive repair technicians with ASE credentials. Below are short overviews of ten of the largest schools in Minnesota that offer auto repair programs. A comparison table follows the overviews to provide a quick look at program types, locations and costs.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Location||Auto Repair Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Central Lakes College||2-year, public; town||Automotive Technology Diploma||$5,384*|
|Century College||2-year, public; large suburb||Automotive Body Technician Diploma,
Basic Automotive Service Certificate
|Hennepin Technical College||2-year, public; large suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technician,
Automotive Technician Diploma,
Auto Body Estimator Occupational Certificate,
Custom Fabrication and Finishing Occupational Certificate,
Non-Structural Repair Technician Assistant Occupational Certificate,
Refinishing Technician Assistant Occupational Certificate,
Structural Repair Technician Assistant Advanced Technical Certificate
|Lake Superior College||2-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology,
Automotive Service Technology Diploma,
Auto Body and Chassis Technician Diploma,
Auto Body Technology Diploma,
Brake and Suspension Technician Certificate
|$5,126 for residents,
$9,543 for non-residents*
|Northland Community and Technical College||2-year, public; town||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology,
Automotive Service Technology Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Body Collision Technology,
Auto Body Collision Technology Diploma,
Automotive Electronics and Drivability Certificate,
Automotive Engine Repair, Suspension and Brakes Certificate
|Ridgewater College||2-year, public; town||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology,
Automotive Service Technology Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Body Collision Repair,
Auto Body Collision Repair Diploma,
Auto Body Specialty Technician Certificate
|Riverland Community College||2-year, public; town||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology,
Automotive Service Technology Diploma
|Saint Paul College||2-year, public; large city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technician,
Automotive Service Technician Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Body Repair,
Auto Body Repair Diploma
|South Central College||2-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Services,
Automotive Services Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Body and Collision Technology,
Auto Body and Collision Technology Diploma
|St. Cloud Technical and Community College||2-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Service Technician,
Automotive Service Technician Diploma,
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Body Collision Technician,
Auto Body Collision Technician Diploma
Source: *NCES College Navigator