More than 50 colleges in California offer auto collision repair programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.
Students interested in taking auto collision repair courses can look to various 2-year colleges in California. For careers working as auto collision repair technicians, individuals usually complete a formal training program that combines classroom instruction and hands-on learning. Most programs culminate in an undergraduate certificate, which can take six months to a year or so to complete; associate's degrees are also available. Areas of focus include auto body refinishing, collision repair and painting and claims estimation.
American River College
Located in Sacramento, American River College (ARC) is a public school that offers two programs for individuals interested in learning about auto collision repair. The automotive claims estimator certificate program teaches students to diagnose collision repair problems, while estimating time and cost involved in making repairs. Additionally, the student completes courses related to business and management. The automotive collision technology associate degree program, held at the Mather Transportation Center, is a 60-unit program that includes auto collision and general education courses. Courses include structural and non-structural damage, heating and air conditioning systems, automotive refinishing and gas metal arc welding. The Career Center at ARC offers students various resources, such as resume writing assistance, career fairs, workshops and help in researching jobs. The automotive programs at ARC are NATEF, I-Car and ASE certified.
The Eurocar collision repair technician program at Cerrito College in Norwalk teaches students the complex procedures and repair techniques required to repair foreign-built vehicles, specifically those that are European in origin. Students learn the methodology and structural repair equipment necessary to repair European vehicles. Course topics include preparation and spot finishing, suspension and steering alignment, structural and non-structural damage repair, and advanced-design panel repair. Additionally,the student completes an 18-week work experience and a eight-week internship in the summer. Cerritos College is the only community or vocational college in the state to offer Eurocar collision repair technician training.
El Camino Community College District
Torrance-based El Camino Community College District has an automotive collision repair/repainting training program that's offered as a certificate or associate degree program; students pursuing the degree must also take general education courses and sufficient electives to meet the 60-unit requirement. Students take courses in automotive collision investigation, basic automotive painting/refinishing, collision repair equipment and welding techniques, automotive collision repair applications and automotive collision analysis. The college also offers certificate programs in automotive collision investigation and automotive accident reconstruction.
Fresno City College
Fresno City College is located in Fresno and offers auto collision repair technology certificate and associate degree programs. Degree-seeking students must complete general education courses in addition to the 42 units required for the certificate. Students complete coursework and obtain hands-on training working with state-of-the-art automotive equipment. Courses include basic and advanced auto collision repair, technical report writing, welding, industrial science and industrial mathematics. Students at Fresno City College can take advantage of the school's Career and Employment Center, which provides help with career guidance and planning.
Long Beach City College
Located in Long Beach, this college offers both a certificate and an associate degree program in auto body repair. The degree program requires completing auto body required courses, 19 units of general education courses and elective courses to total 60 units. Course topics include automotive refinishing, minor and major collision repair, auto body repair and auto body mechanics. Recommended courses include energy for the future and elementary chemistry. Long Beach City College has a Career and Job Services division that provides students with services such as career counseling and assessments, job and internship search assistance, job interview preparation, resume and cover letter writing assistance, workshops and job fairs.
Modesto Junior College
Students interested in careers in auto collision repair can choose from three programs at Modesto Junior College in Modesto. The auto body refinishing certificate program, auto body collision repair certificate program and the auto body collision repair associate degree program prepare students for entry-level positions as auto repair technicians. Curriculum includes courses such as a two-part automotive spray refinishing course, a three-part automotive collision repair course and an automotive systems introductory course. Students in the degree program learn about steering, suspension and alignments, heating and air conditioning systems, braking systems and automotive electricity. The programs also focus on shop safety and hands-on work required to repair certain parts. A skills recognition award is also offered in auto body refinishing. The auto repair programs are offered through the school's Technical Education Division.
Palomar College is located in San Marcos and offers auto collision repair training programs. A student can earn a certificate of achievement or also complete additional general education courses and earn an Associate in Arts in Auto Collision repair. The curriculum includes lectures and lab courses with topics like auto refinishing, auto body repair, auto maintenance and minor repair, body restoration and assembly and automotive electricity. Students learn about I-CAR and ASE collision industry standards and obtain hands-on training in the automotive labs and through cooperative education.
Rio Hondo College
Rio Hondo College is located in Whittier and has training programs for individuals interested in careers in automotive collision repair and repainting. Students can take the 26-unit certificate program or pursue the associate degree, which requires completing the courses in the certificate degree plus general education courses. Through lecture and lab studies, students learn about mechanical and electronic components, auto body and frame straightening, and automotive collision repair. Also included in the curriculum is a two-part automotive collision repair/painting course and a two-part automotive painting course.
Riverside City College
Located in Riverside, this public college offers an automotive body repair certificate and associate degree program. The eight courses in the 30-unit certificate program train the student in collision repair, sheet metal work and welding. Courses cover basic metal joining, the auto's body and frame, chassis repair, alignments, refinishing and automotive upholstery and trim. The associate degree program begins with the 30 units of auto collision repair classes in the certificate program. Students earn the degree by taking general education requirements and electives to total 60 units.
San Joaquin Delta College
Also known as Delta College, San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton offers an automotive body intermediate repair and restoration program. The program requires completing at least 24 units, with courses in intermediate and advanced auto collision repair, brakes, suspension and steering, basic engine performance, and air conditioning, heating and electrical systems. Students learn through lectures and lab courses. Upon completion, the student receives a certificate of achievement and is qualified to seek employment as a body repair technician. Once the student has obtained experience, he or she can take ASE or I-CAR certification exams.
Most employers prefer to hire technicians who have certification demonstrating their knowledge and expertise in their field. Certification can be obtained by passing exams through the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR). The colleges outlined below offer various programs related to auto collision repair; many of the programs are certified through the above organizations.
The Automotive Collision repair program is designed to prepare students for employment as collision repair technicians and for numerous other related areas of the automotive and transportation industries. Training is given in both theory and practical skills. Directed practical work is given in all areas of automotive collision repair under simulated on-the-job conditions. The program offers an Associate of Science degree and several certificate options including the following:
Associate in Science Degree Autiomotive Collision Repair
Automotive Collision Repair Certificate
Automotive Damage Appraisal
Specialty in Automotive Detailing
Automotive Paint and Refinishing Certificate
Automotive Sales and Service Certificate
Insurance Co / Auto Collision Repair Industry Management Certificate
Mr. Snook has been involved in the automotive industry for over 18 years, including eight years’ experience in the private sector as a collision repair specialist and trainer. He joined the full-time faculty at Cypress College in 1999. A graduate of Cypress College, Mr. Snook teaches Automotive Collision Repair, Advanced Automotive Collision Repair, Auto Paint & Refinishing, Auto Body Structural Alignment, and Special Projects.
Mr. Ramos joined the Cypress College Automotive Collision Repair program as a full-time faculty member in 2007, after teaching as an adjunct faculty member for six years. He is a graduate of Cypress College with a degree in Automotive Collision Repair. Prior to joining Cypress College, Mr. Ramos had 25 years’ experience in the automotive collision repair and restoration industries. He has worked for two of the largest custom paint and fabrication businesses in Orange County, and did extensive surface preparation, carbon fiber lay-up and laminations on the B-2 bomber for the U.S. Airforce, the Department of defense, and Northrup/Grumman. He also performs antique motorcycle restorations, of which several are on display at the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Otis Chandler Museum of Transportation in Oxnard, California. His work with automobiles and motorcycles has also been featured in many trade magazines and books. Mr. Ramos teaches Automotive Collision Repair, Advanced Automotive Collision Repair, Auto Paint & Refinishing, and Special Projects.