Have you considered becoming an automotive technician but are unsure of the requirements or which auto mechanic schools in Chicago are best for you to train in?
Have you ever looked at a beautiful car and wondered why the engine sounded the way it did? Or was working with cars your childhood wish and dream? If you answered yes to any of those questions and live in or near Chicago, IL, auto mechanic schools in Chicago are just what you need.
But wait—you don’t need to navigate hundreds of schools on your own, looking for a perfect fit. We’ve compiled a list of Chicago’s best auto mechanic schools and everything you need to know about becoming a solid, well-paid mechanic. Let’s get into it!
Who is an Auto Mechanic?
First, who is an auto mechanic? You can’t do your job well if you don’t know what it is, so what are your responsibilities as an auto mechanic?
An auto mechanic is anyone who fixes and services cars or other automobiles. Automotive technology, the course this career path falls under, is broad, so you can decide to specialize in any area that interests you. One auto mechanic can specialize in brake systems, while another prefers heating and air conditioning.
Also, you can master a particular automobile brand, its technology, and its systems. For instance, if you’ve always loved Ford cars, you can learn this brand’s mechanisms and even work for them.
Why Should I Become A Mechanic?
A career in automotive technology may have been a childhood dream, but as an adult, what concrete reasons are there to be one? Is it a fulfilling, well-paying career?
Certainly. Being a mechanic is one of the most underrated jobs out there, and while it’s not for everyone, it indeed pays handsomely. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded that auto mechanics earned an average of $46,880 in May 2021.
Apart from the financial rewards, there’s the matter of relevance. People will always drive cars, and more cars are produced yearly, meaning they’ll always need you to fix them. If you’re excellent at your job, you’ll never be out of work for long.
Finally, working as an auto mechanic is unquestionably fun. There’s a new daily challenge, new cars to work on, and new features to discover and play around with. Thus, a boring, monotonous office job won’t be your problem.
Unfortunately, for all its merits, automotive technology is hard work. Not only is it physically tasking and laborious (the reason mechanics always have good muscles), but it’s also mentally challenging and puts you at risk. How? You’re responsible for the customer’s car, so leaving it worse than you met it can get you into financial and legal trouble.
How to Become a Mechanic in Chicago
The good thing about having a career as an auto mechanic is that you don’t need any special qualifications to get a job. Unlike careers like engineering and medicine, which require years of torturous lectures and exams, a mechanic can start work anytime.
But, as you’re probably aware, customers want to know they can trust you, especially new ones. Slapping a sign in front of a shop may not be enough to convince people to trust you with their expensive cars.
So, how can you become a certified mechanic in Chicago? There are two simple steps you need to take.
#1. Attend School
Initially, it may look like an inconvenience, but you won’t regret attending a quality mechanic school.
Numerous automotive schools in Chicago have experienced instructors and facilities for theoretical and practical hands-on knowledge. Learning on your own may not afford you access to these benefits.
Schooling usually takes about two years for an Associate Degree (AAS) and less for certificates.
After formal schooling in any automotive schools in Chicago, the next step is to get certified. In Chicago, IL, the most official certification is the ASE from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, formerly National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
You don’t necessarily have to attend an ASE-certified school to take these exams; that’s just one way. However, if you decide not to attend, you must have at least two years of experience before sitting for this test.
With most skills, you need to learn under a more experienced person for some time before standing alone. This also applies to automotive technology; being an apprentice and getting real-life experience is crucial for success.
Thankfully, good auto mechanic schools in Chicago always incorporate hands-on experience into their curriculum. Additionally, most will connect you to internships with external shops and companies.
Top 10 Best Mechanic Schools in Chicago, IL.
You’ve seen all the merits of being an auto mechanic, the good and the bad, and why you should attend an automotive school. You also don’t want to end up learning from a quack mechanic; a reputation like that will ruin your career before it even begins.
So, what mechanic schools in Chicago will mold you into a job-ready, experienced auto mechanic? Here’s a list of Chicago’s top 10 mechanic schools, fees, merits, and strong points.
#1. Lincoln College of Technology
Located in Melrose Park, IL, an hour outside Chicago, Lincoln Tech is among the best mechanic schools in the Chicago area.
With its 56-week duration, Lincoln Tech’s automotive technology diploma program encompasses all essential resources for adequate learning and a successful career. This includes 90,000 square feet of training space, hiring partnerships with local auto mechanic shops, scholarships, and a unique partnership program with Audi.
This program costs $34,037; plus, you can opt for an Associate’s Degree in Automotive Service Management to earn more.
#2. Prairie State College
Prairie State College is second on the list, the only community college operated by the Illinois Community College District 515. Its 5-semester Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) program provides students with a rounded practical and theoretical education in automotive technology.
Upon completing this program, students are well-versed in all core auto mechanic aspects, including engines, air conditioning, brake systems, and general automobile services.
Although the costs are high at $174/credit hour for in-district students and $389.24/hour for others, you can apply for financial aid.
#3. Olive-Harvey College
Belonging to the most extensive community college circuit in Illinois, this institute doesn’t lack experienced instructors or facilities. The three learning paths – Basic Certificate, Advanced Certificate, and AAS allow for a flexible education tailored to your time.
Each program introduces and drills students to industry standards, increasing chances of employment by leaps and bounds. The curriculum covers general automotive technology knowledge, including body care, diesel, powertrain, and specialties like detailing and refinishing.
Located in south-side Chicago, this college is convenient and cheap at $3,802 after aid.
#4. Universal Technical Institute, IL
UTI will prove to be a home for you if you prefer practical learning. Its 51-week program details a comprehensive automotive technology education in simple automobiles and more complicated engines and systems.
Covering topics like vehicle brake systems, automotive transmissions, and automotive climate control, this school’s program remains widely respected. Upon graduation from this institute, you’ll be ready to conquer any industry challenges and ASE certifications.
It is located near Chicago in Lisle, IL, and costs $22,374.
#5. Fast Lane Automotive Training
Highly recommended for any budding auto mechanic, this training center is one of the famous automotive schools in Chicago. It diligently trains each student to diagnose, repair, and master automobile systems.
Introductory training courses include electrical systems, automatic transmissions, brake systems, ACs, and hybrid engines. This training facility also exposes students to real-life situations with customer vehicles under supervision.
Convenient training times and learning schedules make learning and prepping for ASE certification easy and flexible.
#6. Oakton Community College
With campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Oakton Community College is one of Chicago’s outstanding auto mechanic schools and its environs.
This reputable community college offers an Associate in Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) in automotive technology. It also provides the option of certificates covering other automobile services and systems. Moreover, both learning paths are recognized by the Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation.
Adaptable morning and evening learning hours ensure the utmost convenience while completing the 66-hour training duration.
#7. Morton College
Established in 1924, Morton College stands proudly among the old but gold community colleges in Illinois. Its automotive technology program is top-notch, designed to instill theoretical and hands-on knowledge in students.
Depending on your preference, options of either an Associate Degree or any of the numerous Automotive technology certificates are available.
Bonus point, this program fully prepares students for the ASE certification and has accreditation from NATEF. Additionally, students are privy to employment information and help to ensure career success further.
#8. Triton College
Located in River Grove, a suburb of Chicago, Triton is an easy choice for any in search of automotive schools in Chicago. Featuring a friendly learning environment and standard instructors, this school’s learning programs never disappoint.
A 100% acceptance rate guarantees you’ll encounter little to no problems with your application. Its Associate Degrees, Honda PACT, and certificate programs are all duly accredited and highly esteemed by NATEF.
Completion of this program qualifies you for both general and specialist employment. This school costs $143/per credit hour for in-district students and $367/per credit hour for out-of-district students.
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#9. Harry S Truman College
This institute, named after the 33rd US president, is one of the esteemed City Colleges of Chicago. Its two-year Associate’s Degree program in automotive technology consists of 18 courses, all wired to produce job-ready auto mechanics. For flexibility, this institute also offers Basic and Advanced certificates.
The Truman College Automotive Technology Program has no shortage of accreditations, including ASE and WIOA approvals. To enhance earning capacity, a partnership with Southern Illinois University enables students with an AAS to receive a Bachelor’s Degree.
This school costs an average of $3,672 after financial aid.
#10. Kennedy-King College
Another sister college in the City Colleges of Chicago, this institute provides a two-year education in automotive technology that is simply unmatched.
With NATEF/ASE certification, formal classroom education, lab practicals, and strict devotion to personal development, this institution turns out stellar auto mechanics yearly. Also, the school’s collision program allows you to earn I-Car training points.
Of course, you can acquire the AAS degree or stop at either the Basic or Advanced certificate level. This school costs an average of $4,781 after financial aid.
What Are The Requirements to Apply to Mechanic Schools in Chicago, IL?
You’ve gone through the list of schools above, and one or two have piqued your interest. Now, what next? How do you apply to these automotive schools in Chicago, and more importantly, the requirements do you need to apply?
Considering that these schools are community colleges, technical schools, and trade schools, they probably won’t insist on tests like the SAT. Most of these schools have a 100% acceptance rate, meaning there’s a high chance you’ll get in.
Still, you need to have a couple of things in place:
- For one, you should be up to 18. Yes, some schools (like UTI) accept minors above 16, but most automotive schools in Chicago will typically insist that you’re legal.
- You need proof that you attended high school. Mechanic school isn’t Ivy-league level; it’s unlikely that you’ll sit through hours of lectures and multiple academic tests. But, it does build on some basic foundational high-school knowledge.
- Enroll on the school’s website or through their admissions office, then sit for their entrance test and pass it.
- Lastly, you’ll need your toolbox. Again, most schools will give you a list of what you need, so don’t sweat it.
Frequently Asked Questions about Auto Mechanic Schools in Chicago
Do Mechanics Need A License In Chicago?
No, mechanics aren’t mandated to get a license in Chicago. So long as you’re well-trained with the appropriate skill set, you’re eligible to start your auto shop or find employment.
However, depending on the job, some employers may ask to see recognized certifications.
What Is The Age Requirement For Automotive Schools In Chicago?
Age requirements differ depending on the institution. Generally, most automotive schools in Chicago will prefer that you’re at least 18 years of age.
Schools that accept 16 or 17-year-old students usually insist that a legal guardian signs the enrolment form.
How Can I Get ASE-Certified In Chicago?
Getting ASE certified only requires showing up at the test center and passing the set exam. You’ll have to register beforehand online to enable you to sit the exam.
Also, note that you must have some years of experience before you’re allowed to take the test. Luckily, attending ASE-certified auto mechanic schools counts as experience, so you can take the test straight out of school.
What Are The Academic Requirements For Mechanic Schools In Chicago?
You must have a recognized high school diploma or GED equivalent to attend automotive schools in Chicago.
Additionally, though most schools don’t demand compulsory ACT/SAT results, they’ll usually ask that you write their placement test.