The Price of Mechanic Accreditation

How Much Does Auto Mechanic Training Cost?

Last Updated on February 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Becoming an auto mechanic takes specialized skills and training, but how much does it actually cost? The total price tag for education and certification can range quite a bit depending on the path you take.


  • Expect to spend $5,000-$30,000 in total for auto mechanic education including tools, books, and ASE certification.
  • Apprenticeships and on-the-job training provide alternative paths that allow you to earn income while you learn.
  • Hands-on practice through internships or your own vehicle projects gives real-world experience.
  • Given strong job prospects and decent salaries, mechanic training offers strong return on investment long-term.

How Much Does Auto Mechanic Training Cost?

Tuition is one of the largest costs associated with mechanic training. Prices range significantly based on factors like:

  • Technical school vs community college – Technical and trade schools focused solely on auto mechanic training tend to cost more, with tuition ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 or more for a 1-2 year program. Community colleges offer more affordable options at about $3,000-$5,000 per year.
  • Length of program – The longer the program, generally the higher the cost. Short term certificate programs can be completed for a few thousand dollars, while more extensive 2-year associate’s degrees cost upwards of $20,000.
  • Public vs private – Public schools tend to have lower tuition rates than private institutions. However, private schools sometimes offer more financial aid.
  • In-state vs out-of-state – Attending community college in your home state provides discounted resident tuition rates. Out-of-state students pay more.

Overall, expect to spend between $5,000 and $30,000 in auto mechanic training tuition alone depending on where you choose to study and for how long. Scholarships and financial aid can offset costs significantly.

According to Trade School Future, online mechanic school costs between $750 and $1,000 per course, with online automotive training programs lasting from 6 months to 2 years.

Western Technical College writes that the Automotive Technician program costs about $10,300 based on tuition and basic program fees, with additional fees for books, materials, and testing.

Imagine America notes that Automotive school programs typically cost about $1,000 or less, with online automotive technician correspondence courses available for about $750.

Portland Community College says that the certificate costs about $11,300, including books, tools, and supplies, with the AAS degree adding several thousand dollars.

Tools and Supplies Add Up

In addition to tuition, budget for tools, textbooks, lab fees and other supplies. An initial investment in a basic toolkit can cost $1,000-$5,000. As your skills advance, you may invest thousands more in specialty tools over the course of your career.

Books and lab fees generally run $500-$2,000 depending on the program length and requirements.

Many schools provide toolkits and some books with the cost of tuition. It’s also possible to gradually accumulate tools on the job through apprenticeships and employer-provided training programs.

Certification Brings Added Expenses

Gaining ASE certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence requires passing a series of exams. Each test costs $54-$70 depending on the area of specialty. Study guides and prep courses range from $200-$800.

With 9 different specialty areas and over 40 total certifications available, the costs add up as mechanics pursue multiple ASE credentials. Combined exam fees and prep materials can total $1,000-$5,000 for comprehensive ASE certification.

Workplace Training Offsets Costs

Mechanic School CostPaid apprenticeships and on-the-job training offer alternatives to formal schooling. These programs allow you to learn while earning a paycheck rather than racking up tuition expenses.

Many dealerships and repair shops hire apprentice techs at about $15 per hour with the opportunity to advance to higher-paying technician roles once skills are developed. Some companies even help cover the costs of tools, ASE testing fees, and supplemental coursework.

Manufacturer training programs are another option, providing free specialized education when you agree to work for that automaker. This path leads to a career as a dealer technician.

Hands-On Practice Is Essential

No mechanic education is complete without extensive time spent applying knowledge in the workshop. Most schools build in lab hours and work on practice vehicles. Supplementary opportunities for hands-on training include:

  • Internships – Many programs facilitate semester-long internships at local garages. These provide invaluable real-world experience at no added cost.
  • DIY practice – Working on your own vehicles or taking on side jobs allows you to hone skills. This offsets education costs through income generation.
  • Specialty classes – Short 1-2 day specialty training sessions on topics like electrical systems, transmissions, or hybrid technology offer focused practical learning for $200-$800 each.

Gaining work experience alongside classroom learning ensures you get your money’s worth from mechanic training.

Weighing the Cost Against Potential Earnings

For those considering a career as an auto mechanic, the question becomes – is the investment in training worth it?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for automotive technicians and mechanics is approximately $45,000 per year or $22 per hour. The highest paid 10% in the field earn over $70,000 annually.

With vocational training costing anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000, the expense often pays for itself within just 1-2 years on the job. Those completing more extensive 2-year degrees may take longer to recoup costs but have access to higher earning potential long-term.

Final Words

Investing in automotive education and training requires planning and budgeting but opens doors to a stable, engaging career maintaining and repairing today’s complex vehicles. Careful research and financial planning can pave the way to success as a professional mechanic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to be trained as a mechanic?

The time it takes to become a fully trained auto mechanic depends on the type of program you complete. Options include:

  • Certificate programs – Take 6 months to 1 year to complete. Provide basic skills for entry-level mechanic positions.
  • Diploma programs – Take 1-2 years. Include more extensive training for higher level technician roles.
  • Associate’s degrees – Take 2 years. Offer well-rounded education in auto systems, electronics, math, computers, etc.
  • Apprenticeships – Take 2-5 years combining classroom education with on-the-job training. Build skills gradually while earning income.
  • ASE certifications – Require 2+ years of work experience before testing. Demonstrate specialized expertise in areas like brakes, electrical, or engine repair.

To become proficient in all areas of vehicle maintenance and repair, most mechanics pursue education and training over 3-5 years at minimum. But you can start working in basic entry-level roles much quicker through shorter vocational programs.

What are the best auto mechanic schools?

Some of the top auto mechanic schools in the U.S. include:

  • Wyoming Technical Institute (WyoTech)
  • Universal Technical Institute (UTI)
  • Nashville Auto-Diesel College
  • Lincoln Tech
  • Ohio Technical College

Factors to look for in high-quality mechanic programs include:

  • Hands-on training with many hours in the workshop
  • Instructors with years of industry experience
  • Job/internship placement assistance after graduation
  • Training on latest auto technologies like hybrids
  • Preparation for ASE certification exams
  • Accreditation from organizations like ASE Education Foundation

Community colleges and technical institutes that partner with local repair shops also offer strong training options at more affordable tuition rates than private schools.

Can I complete mechanics in 2 months?

It’s not realistic to gain comprehensive auto mechanic skills in just 2 months. However, you can make a start on the basics in a short time frame through:

  • An introductory certificate program focusing on essential skills like oil changes, brake repair, battery/tire service, etc.
  • Manufacturer-specific training for makes like Toyota, GM or Ford.
  • Online courses teaching fundamental knowledge and troubleshooting.
  • A mechanic apprenticeship introducing you to common repairs.
  • ASE test prep on one specialty like suspension and steering or HVAC.

Gaining proficiency as a mechanic takes 1-2 years at minimum. But within 2 months you can begin developing specialized skills and determine if this career path is the right fit for you.

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