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Auto mechanics have generally completed a formal training program, although some are hired with high school diplomas and receive on-the-job training. Automotive training programs may result in a diploma or associate's degree, but some schools offer short-term certificate programs in specialized areas of automotive technology.
Hands-on experience is gained in automotive laboratories and through internships with dealerships or auto repair shops. Offered by 2-year technical colleges, many auto mechanic training programs provide instruction on ASE certification areas such as collision repair, heating and air conditioning, suspension and steering, brakes and electrical systems.
Outlined below are 11 Wisconsin colleges that offer auto mechanic degree programs. Students who successfully complete one of these programs become eligible to take certification exams.
Chippewa Technical College
The automotive technician program at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire trains students in eight ASE certification areas. Students gain hands-on training with customers' cars in the school's automotive lab. The four-term program requires the completion of at least 56 credits. In addition to three sequential auto engine performance courses, students complete courses in automotive HVAC systems, automotive welding, auto safety and security systems, basic vehicle maintenance and automotive fundamentals. Applicants must take assessment tests.
Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC)
Located in Appleton, FVTC offers two-year associate degree programs for students interested in careers as auto mechanics and technicians. The GM-ASEP (General Motors - Automotive Service Educational Program) track provides instruction on working in GM service shops or dealerships, while the automotive technology import track prepares students to work with foreign cars. Candidates interested in working as auto mechanics without an area of specialization can choose the automotive technology general track. Students learn about various areas in automotive technology, such as scanners, service manuals, brake systems, engine testing and rebuilding, on-board diagnostics, hybrid vehicles and fuel-injection systems. FVTC also offers technical diplomas in automotive maintenance technician, automotive technician and automotive technician-import. Students entering any of these programs must take assessment tests.
Gateway Technical College
Kenosha-based Gateway Technical College is certified by NATEF and provides an automotive technology associate degree program at its Horizon Center for Transportation Technology, a fully equipped auto repair shop where students can obtain hands-on training. Graduates are prepared to take the ASE Master certification exam. Students learn to use the latest Snap-on tools and devices and can earn various Snap-on certifications as well. Additionally, students can join the Automobile Club, which offers students the opportunities to attend car shows, auto competition and student-run events. Gateway Technical College also has an automotive service technician diploma program.
Madison Area Technical College
Madison Area Technical College's Truax campus in Madison offers an automotive technology associate degree program. With the help of ASE Master-certified instructors, students gain the knowledge to service, maintain and repair vehicles. Students learn through both lecture and hands-on training working on real vehicles. The curriculum includes both automotive and general education courses. This four-term program teaches students to work on all areas of the automobile and prepares them to take industry certification exams.
Milwaukee Area Technical College
With its main campus in Milwaukee, this college offers four automotive technology degree programs at its Mequon campus. The Ford ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training) program focuses on Ford vehicles, and the school also offers the Honda PACT (Professional Automotive Career Training) program. The other programs are MOPAR CAP (Career Automotive Program) and CART (Comprehensive Automotive Repair Technology). The curriculum has students alternating between classroom instruction and internship work experiences, which take place in eight-week intervals. As an admission requirement, each candidate must have an automotive dealer sponsor him or her in an internship.
Moraine Park Technical College
Aspiring auto mechanics who also want to earn degrees can do so at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) in Fond du Lac. MPTC offers a four-term automotive technology program that prepares students for careers as auto mechanics or technicians. Students learn to repair the eight major areas of an automobile. Applicants must take assessment tests and provide high school diplomas or equivalent. Exit assessment tests are required to graduate.
Northcentral Technical College
Located in Wausau, this college has a four-semester associate degree automotive technology program that prepares students for entry-level positions in automotive repair shops or dealerships, as well as advancement to managerial positions. Students learn through classroom instruction and hands-on training in the shop. Course topics for this 68-credit program include steering and suspension systems, automotive welding, engine repair, service advisor techniques, hybrid drivetrains, engine performance and auto service fundamentals.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers an automotive associate degree program at its Green Bay and Marinette campuses. The program includes technical courses that teach students to work on vehicles, as well as business-related courses needed for supervisory or management positions. Students entering this program take assessment tests and should have solid high school backgrounds in math, science and technical education. The four-semester program prepares students for various ASE certification exams. The college also offers an automotive technician diploma program. NWTC's automotive programs are ASE-certified and meet NATEF standards.
Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC)
Located in Pewaukee, this college has two associate degree programs in automotive technology. The GM-ASEP program, a joint effort between GM and WCTC, allows students to combine classroom training with paid internships at GM dealerships. With GM-donated vehicles, students can obtain hands-on training, while also keeping up with the latest technology. The automotive technology general track prepares students to work on various makes and models of vehicles. Students receive training on engines, brakes, fuel management and hybrid vehicles. Upon completing either program, the student earns the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Refrigerant Recycling certification and is prepared for ASE certification exams.
Western Technical College
The 62-credit automotive technician program at this LaCrosse-based school leads to a technical diploma. Some course topics include basic maintenance, brake and drive systems, automatic transmissions and engine performance. Students learn about diagnosing, repairing and servicing different auto and truck systems and can qualify for ASE certification upon program completion. They may be employed at such businesses as auto repair shops and dealerships.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Shell Lake's Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College has an automotive technician diploma program at its Superior and Rice Lake campuses. The program, which is both ASE and NATEF-certified, requires automotive courses, such as body electrical systems, air conditioning and heating systems, engine performance, engine repair, automotive fundamentals and manual drive trains.
Although certification isn't typically a requirement for employment, many employers prefer to hire auto mechanics who are certified. Certification can be obtained through agencies such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) and National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Auto Mechanic Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Chippewa Valley Technical College||Two-year, public; small city||Automotive Technician Technical Diploma||$4,159 (in-state); $6,085 (out-of-state)*|
|Fox Valley Technical College||Two-year, public; midsize suburb|| Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology,
Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology: GM-ASEP,
Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology: Imports
|$4,373 (in-state); $6,299 (out-of-state)*|
|Gateway Technical College||Two-year, public; midsize suburb||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology||$4,090 (in-state); $6,016 (out-of-state)*|
|Madison Area Technical College||Four-year, public; midsize city||Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology - Comprehensive||$4,217 (in-state); $6,143 (out-of-state)*|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Two-year, public; large city||Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology - Comprehensive||$4,360 (in-state); $6,286 (out-of-state)*|
|Moraine Park Technical College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology||$4,322 (in-state); $6,295 (out-of-state)*|
|Northcentral Technical College||Two-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology||$4,230 (in-state); $6,156 (out-of-state)*|
|Northeast Wisconsin Technical College||Two-year, public; midsize city||Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology||$4,280 (in-state); $6,206 (out-of-state)*|
|Waukesha County Technical College||Two-year, public; large suburb|| Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology,
Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology: GM-ASEP
|$4,250 (in-state); $6,078 (out-of-state)*|
|Western Technical College||Two-year, public; small city||Automotive Technician Technical Diploma||$3,779 (in-state); $6,050 (out-of-state)*|
|Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College||Two-year, public; distant rural||Automotive Maintenance Technician Technical Diploma||$4,545 (in-state); $6,598 (out-of-state)*|
Sources: *NCES School Navigator