Collision Refinishing Schools: How to Choose

Collision refinishing schools prepare students for work in auto body shops or dealerships, where they repair damage from accidents. Collision repair and refinishing technology certificate, diploma or associate degree programs are offered through trade schools or community colleges. Though rare, a few schools offer bachelor's degree programs in automotive technology to prepare students for management positions.

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Collision refinishing programs are usually offered as a diploma, certificate or associate's degree level program, although a small number of bachelor's programs are available. Certificate and diploma programs focus on technical skills, while degree programs may add some business courses.

10 Schools with Collision Repair Programs

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Austin Community College Austin, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate
$2,550 In-district
$9,210 In-state
$11,340 Out-of-state
Lansing Community College Lansing, Michigan 2-year, Public Certificate
$3,020 In-district
$5,660 In-state
$8,300 Out-of-state
Butler Community College El Dorado, Kansas 2-year, Public Certificate
$3,235 In-district
$3,565 In-state
$5,185 Out-of-state
Hillsborough Community College Tampa, Florida 2-year, Public Certificate $2,506 In-state
$9,111 Out-of-state
Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia, Mississippi 2-year, Public Certificate $2,550 In-state
$4,950 Out-of-state
Clackamas Community College Oregon City, Oregon 2-year, Public Associate's $4,268 In-state
$11,918 Out-of-state
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, North Carolina 2-year, Public Diploma
$2,664 In-state
$8,808 Out-of-state
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate
$1,408 In-district
$2,416 In-state
$3,688 Out-of-state
Salt Lake Community College Salt Lake City, Utah 2-year, Public Certificate
$3,569 In-state
$11,337 Out-of-state
Nashua Community College Nashua, New Hampshire 2-year, Public Associate's $6,912 In-state
$15,072 Out-of-state

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Most collision refinishing programs include a significant hands-on component, offering training with industry tools and technology, including on-campus labs, workshops and automotive facilities in which students can practice repair and refinishing skills. Students should consider the following when selecting a school:

  • Programs accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) demonstrate that students receive sufficient education and training in all relevant aspects of the profession.
  • In addition to a significant amount of hands-on learning, students may want to choose schools that include internship opportunities with affiliated companies.
  • Students may wish to look for schools that offer a certified Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) curriculum.

Certificate in Collision Repair or Refinishing

Unlike degree programs, most certificate programs concentrate on either collision repair or refinishing. The coursework usually includes several sequences, as well as introductory math and writing courses. These programs can typically be completed in two semesters or less.

Associate's Degree in Collision Refinishing and Repair

These 2-year programs include introductory courses in refinishing and collision repair before moving onto more advanced coursework, such as air conditioning, heating and electrical systems. Coursework outside the refinishing and repair curriculum can include human relations, business communication and business writing.

Bachelor's Degree in Automotive Technology Management

Students with previous industry experience that want to become managers might want to consider earning an automotive technology management bachelor's degree. These programs combine collision repair with business management, teaching students how manage employees and finances. Some schools offer this as a completion program, allowing students with an associate's degree to earn the bachelor's degree with two additional years of study.

Prospective students should consider their career goals when deciding on a school for collision refinishing. At all levels, they should look for programs that provide the opportunity for extensive hands-on experience with the most up-to-date technology.

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