Automotive technical schools

Hiya, I’m a 55 year old male looking to make a career change and become an auto mechanic. There are schools in the NY area like Lincoln Tech that charge $30,000 a year tuition that seems very high. On the other hand Bronx Community College offer a certificate program that is very resonable. Is there any reason to spend the extra money for a private technical school, or is a community college good enough to get a start at a dealership?–Thanks!

I would strongly consider the community college. I’ve read a number of stories about commercial colleges that provide a poor education. I have no personal knowledge of Lincoln Tech. I took a welding course at a community college, and every class I walked through the automotive instruction area, where I was impressed with the equipment and what I saw of the instruction. Talk to BCC and see what their placement performance is. It would be my first choice.

After 30 years as a school counselor, I can tell you that you should AVOID the for-profit technical schools–particularly Lincoln Tech.

I heard all too many horror stories from former students about the poor facilities, lack of qualified instructors, and–in general–the absence of anything that would justify the inflated prices that Lincoln charges for their sub-standard instruction. If I had more time right now, I would elaborate, but please trust me about this issue.

That being said, you should go to a college-based program that has an affiliation with an auto manufacturer. I don’t know about BCC, but in NJ we have a few community colleges that are affiliated with one or more manufacturers, among them GM, Ford, and Toyota.

These programs are a combination of classroom/shop-based instruction (including vehicles and modern equipment donated by the manufacturer) and an apprentice-like program wherein the student works part-time at a dealership, for a salary.

Successful completion of the program esentially guarantees you a job at a dealership.

If BCC does not offer that type of program, you might want to investigate the community colleges in northern NJ. One possibility is Bergen Community College, but I have to say that my memory regarding specific colleges has faded, following my retirement. Even as an out-of-state student, you will pay a fraction of the price charged by Lincoln, and you will get superior training as well as great job placement.

Edited to add:
In addition to looking at Bergen Community College, you might also want to check out Nassau Community College on L.I., and the community colleges in the counties immediately to the north of The Bronx.

The $30,000 kind of money is hard to pay. You will know soon enough if the community college is any good. Two classes and you will know.

I too strongly recommend the community college. For what used to be called the “blue collar trades” such as automotive technologies, community college settings are generally much better than for-profit colleges.

One think I’d check is to see if the program culminates in the taking of the ASE test. A good program will.

Sincere best.

The local community college vo-tech class in automotive technology was taught by an old friend for many years and often I was invited to give a couple of hours instruction on scopes. It seemed that there were always several students there who were just keeping seats warm and several who were very interested in learning. Those who put forth the effort got a great education and were given very candid and honest recommendations regarding their talents and abilities and my friend could always find openings for the good ones. ASE testing was not part of the curriculum but seemed strongly recommended and were administered at the school.

Just for what it’s worth, in a well equipped shop there is nothing that a 55 year old in good health can’t handle but some days could be tough. Getting wheels up and onto the lugs comes to mind. I learned to put the tire on my feet and rock back on my heals while sitting on a brake stool. There’s more future in working smarter than working harder.

How to not appear to discriminate about age? Lets just look at the numbers. How long do you figure it will take you to get even moderate preference in the type of repairs you will have dispatched to you? (you cannot make it on oil changes) School and hands on time in the shop to reach this moderate level has gotta be at least 4 years, now you are 59. I am trying to say that the numbers just do not work out. Auto repair is all about competition, it just does not look good starting out in this field so late in life, but perhaps you have no other choice. Good luck.

I attended the 2-yr automotive program at the Franklin Institute of Boston back in the early 70s. Tuition back then $1000/year, though it’s up to $14K/year now. The school provided a great automotive program back then and I believe it continues to do so.

Having said that, I fully agree with the previous comments about Community College programs. Many are quality programs at attractive prices.