School and Ranking Information
There are only about five schools within 100 miles of Virginia Beach that offer training programs for aspiring automotive technicians, and only three of these options are public schools. The following schools are considered the top three area schools for automotive technology based off of program options, graduation rates and hands-on training opportunities. All three schools help students prepare for industry certification. To get certified, individuals need to acquire a minimum of two years of experience; an exam is also required. Individuals with just one year of experience who want to get certified need to complete formal training in this field.
- Winner: Tidewater Community College has the highest graduation rate of all three schools, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data. It offers an associate's degree program in automotive technology in addition to specialized dealership training for Chrysler, Honda and Toyota.
- Runner Up #1: Although J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College is located further away than the third place school, it offers a large variety of automotive programs. Students here can earn an associate's degree in automotive technology or certificates in hybrid and electric vehicle technology, diesel mechanics technology and automotive technology.
- Runner Up #2: Thomas Nelson Community College is noted for offering a GED program for individuals who didn't complete high school and helping them to begin their training for a career in this competitive field.
School Comparison Chart
|Categories||Tidewater Community College||J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College||Thomas Nelson Community College|
|Location||Norfolk, VA (about 15 miles from Virginia Beach)||Richmond, VA (about 97 miles from Virginia Beach)||Hampton, VA (about 26 miles from Virginia Beach)|
|School Type||2-year, public||2-year, public||2-year, public|
|Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)|| $3,644 (in-state)*
| $4,053 (in-state)*
| $3,778 (in-state)*
|Automotive Technician Program Levels Offered||Certificate and associate's degree||Certificate and associate's degree||Certificate and associate's degree|
|Automotive Technician Degrees and Certificates Awarded (all levels) in 2011-2012||124 (six were in diesel mechanics technology)*||27 (seven were in diesel mechanics technology)*||74*|
|Most Popular Automotive Technician Program Level in 2011-2012||Less than 1-year certificate (91 awarded)*||Associate's degree (18 awarded)*||Less than 1-year certificate (50 awarded)*|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2009 Entering Class||14% (8% transfer-out rate)*||13% (14% transfer-out rate)*||14% (13% transfer-out rate)*|
|Noteworthy||Prepares students for the Virginia state inspection certification test||The associate's degree program offers General Motors certification and Ford certification||Roughly 63% of first-year students receive some type of financial aid*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.
Winner: Tidewater Community College
- Offers current training for individuals already employed as automotive technicians
- Students have the opportunity to participate in national, district and state automotive technology competitions and work on project vehicles through the SkillsUSA organization.
- Students are prepared for National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification
Graduates can seek entry-level employment after they've earned their associate's degrees. The school's automotive technology program has been certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). Dealership-specific associate's degree programs consist of hands-on training working on vehicles in the school's shop along with theory courses. Students can continue working at a sponsoring dealership after they've attained their associate's degree. Students who don't live in Tidewater can participate in a dealership-specific program by taking classes for eight weeks at the school then returning home to work at a sponsoring dealer in their area for an additional eight weeks, cycling through this process until the program is completed. Residency program students have access to reduced local hotel rates for the classroom portion of the program. The school also offers five certificate programs covering brakes, inspections, air conditioning, repair parts, electrical components and engine diagnosis, among others.
Runner-Up #1: J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
- The General Motors and Ford educational programs allow students to go to college and work at dealerships at the same time for two years
- The Diesel Mechanics Technology Certificate program offers on-the-job experience opportunities
Students can find a general associate's degree program in automotive technology along with a Ford and General Motors associate's degree program. In addition, students can find three certificate options. These automotive technology programs prepare students for a number of careers, including automotive dealership technician, state safety inspector, diesel equipment repair technician, maintenance technician and auto mechanic. In order to enroll in the hybrid and electric vehicle technology certificate program, students need experience in automotive technology and have to complete certain courses. Students in this program learn about fuel cell electric vehicles, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and automotive control electronics. The Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology degree program has been certified by the ASE and NATEF. Once they've earned their associate's degrees, graduates can take ASE certification exams.
Runner-Up #2: Thomas Nelson Community College
- Admission fee isn't charged at this school
- Tuition is roughly 1/3 of the cost of a 4-year school, according to TNCC
Students who plan to earn their GEDs while acquiring knowledge in automotive technology can participate in Middle College; this educational and career training program is available to students who are ages 18 to 24. Students in Middle College can earn a maximum of five college credits. In the automotive technology certificate program, students learn about shop management, automotive suspension and anti-pollution systems. The associate's degree program features courses in first aid/safety, interpersonal skills and automotive electronics. Students can also learn about hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles in the associate's degree program.