Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology Associate's Degree

Programs in collision repair and refinishing technology teach mechanical, electronic and surface finishing skills. Learn about schools, degree requirements, courses of study, employment outlook and salary information.

Where Can I Find an Associate's Program in Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology?

While only a high school diploma is generally needed to begin working in this field, many employers prefer job candidates who have completed a relevant training program. High schools and vocational schools may offer courses that can lead to certificates in collision repair. However, only postsecondary technical schools, community colleges and some 4-year universities give you the opportunity to earn an associate's degree.

The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) maintains an online directory of secondary and postsecondary schools that offer training programs. The Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) also has an online listing of secondary and postsecondary schools that offer individual courses, as well as certificate or degree programs. NATEF and I-CAR are the two organizations that set the most commonly accepted standards for education programs in this field.

Common Courses Welding, painting, repair cost estimation, replacement and adjustment of different materials, metal finishing
Other Requirements Externship may be required; some programs may require you to bring your own tools
Online Availability General education may be completed online
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for automotive body and glass repairers)
Median Salary (2018) $41,330 (for automotive body and glass repairers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect in a Program?

A collision repair and refinishing program leading to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science might consist of 60-71 credits and take you 2-3 years to complete. Typical courses include the replacement and adjustment of physical, mechanical and electrical components, plastics, fiberglass and adhesives, metal finishing, welding, painting techniques, sheet-molded compounds and repair cost estimation.

In general, these programs require a great deal of hands-on training, and you might have to supply your own tools. Completion of an externship at a school-partnered garage or repair and refinishing facility may be required in order to earn your degree.

What Online Options Are Available?

Because of the large amount of hands-on training necessary in every program, opportunities for you to take online courses are somewhat limited. However, some schools may allow you to complete general education requirements online. You'll need a computer with high-speed Internet access in order to participate.

What Is the Occupational Outlook?

The BLS reports that from 2016-2026, job opportunities in this field will be good for individuals with formal training at 8% employment growth. In addition, earning voluntary certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) may lead to an increase in employment prospects. After completing an associate's program and a year of work experience, you can sit for 1-4 ASE collision repair certification exams. If you successfully pass one exam, you'll become ASE-certified in that specialty. If you pass all four exams, you'll earn the ASE Master Collision Repair Technician credential. As of May 2018, the median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $41,330, reports the BLS.