Automotive Technology

Student working under car on lift

Automotive Technology - AAS-T

Choose this program to prepare for a rewarding career as an automotive service technician or mechanic. Occupational choices are extensive in this specialized field; you could work as an automatic transmission, brake, engine performance, or electrical specialist.

If you’re looking for a program that provides a wide range of high-demand skills you’ll use with employers such as automotive dealerships, auto rental companies, federal and local government repair shops, and fleet maintenance businesses, then check out Automotive at BTC!

The entry point for the Automotive Technology program is fall quarter. You must have a valid driver’s license and be insurable to enroll in this associate degree and certificate program.

Employment Information

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

83% BTC graduate placement rate1

$37,918 starting annual wage2
$48,381 average annual wage2
$61,214 potential annual wage2


  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Whatcom County and WA State wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and reflect 2018-21 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC that involves shift work, these ESD wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 75th percentile.

Estimated Program Costs

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

This program admits students once a year, in the fall quarter.

Additional Requirements:

Prior to enrolling in program classes, students are required to submit the following documentation to the Admissions & Advising Office:

  1. Copy of your valid Driver's License (with no restrictions due to driving offenses);

  2. Current complete 3-year driving record from Washington State DOL. This copy of your driving record will be kept on file for advising purposes only.

Important Program Notes:
  1. You are required to maintain a valid driver's license as long as you are enrolled in this program;

  2. Many employers and internship providers in this field will only hire applicants who have a clean driving record;

  3. Driving records (abstracts) can be obtained for a fee. It is the responsibility of the applicant to pay for and order their driving records. You may obtain a copy of your current "Abstract of Driving Record" at your local Department of Licensing or by accessing the Washington State Department of Licensing;

  4. A renewed copy of your valid driver's license (with no restrictions due to driving offenses) may again be required at the start of your second year in the program;

  5. All General Education courses must be completed prior to the beginning of the 2nd year.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning. 

Program Application Form: Core Program Entry Packet

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 133

  • Current Students: Learn how to use this page to register for classes

  • Quarter 1

  • TRANS 101Basic Transportation Service & Systems 1015 CR
  • TRANS 102Basic Transportation Service & Systems 1025 CR
  • TRANS 103Basic Transportation Service & Systems 1035 CR
  • ENGL& 101English Composition I5 CR
  • MATH& 107Math in Society5 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • AUTO 104Engines Light Mechanical7 CR
  • AUTO 105Engines Major Mechanical5 CR
  • AUTO 106Applied Engines Technology6 CR
  • AUTO 151Electricity/Electronics2 CR
  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • AUTO 107Brakes6 CR
  • AUTO 113HVAC4 CR
  • AUTO 122Basic Drive Train4 CR
  • AUTO 161Steering and Suspension6 CR
  • PSYC& 100General Psychology5 CR
  • Note: Five (5) credits from AAS-T Acceptable Transferrable Courses List in Humanities, Social Science or Natural Science.
  • Quarter 4

  • AUTO 219Field-Based Experience I12 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • AUTO 229Field-Based Experience II5 CR
  • AUTO 255Electricity/Electronics 27 CR
  • AUTO 265Engine Performance 23 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • AUTO 250Automatic Transmissions/Transaxles7 CR
  • AUTO 259Field-Based Experience III5 CR
  • AUTO 260Manual Transmission/Transaxle3 CR
  • Quarter 7

  • AUTO 275Engine Performance 311 CR
  • AUTO 279Field-Based Experience IV5 CR
  • See instructor regarding alternative options for AUTO 229, AUTO 259 and AUTO 279.
  • Electives

  • Electives15 CR
  • Requirement is to complete THREE of the Field-Based Experience or Shop Practicum classes listed below. NOTE: The Field-Based Experience courses are already reflected in the quarterly distribution of classes above.
  • AUTO 229Field-Based Experience II5 CR
  • AUTO 259Field-Based Experience III5 CR
  • AUTO 279Field-Based Experience IV5 CR

Program Outcomes

After successfully completing this program, students will be able to:

  • Comply with personal and environmental safety practices specific to the automotive industry.
  • Evaluate and use technical information and testing procedures from a variety of sources to diagnose and repair various automotive system failures.
  • Perform maintenance and light repair common to the automotive industry.
  • Diagnose and repair common electrical and electronic system failures.
  • Perform diagnostics and repairs consistent with an entry-level automotive technician.
  • Communicate and document work performed using trade specific language.
  • Demonstrate positive work traits and excellent customer service skills as a member of a technical team.

Employment Outlook

About 78% of BTC Automotive students are employed within nine months of graduation. The average annual income in this field is $46,675, with an earning potential of about $60,299 per year.*

BTC’s General Automotive Repair and Vehicle Service Technician certificates prepare graduates to work in entry-level automotive positions like lubrication, tire, and muffler service positions.

Most program graduates work as automotive service technicians. In larger shops, positions have become increasingly specialized. Opportunities for specialty positions include automatic transmission specialist, brake specialist, engine performance specialist, front end specialist and electrical specialist.

Potential places of employment include automotive dealerships, independent service garages, federal and local government repair shops, rental industry, service stations, specialty shops, tire and service industry, and fleet maintenance.

Faculty & Support

Dan Beeson has been an Automotive Technology instructor at Bellingham Technical College since 1996. He has more than a decade of hands-on experience as an Automotive Technician and is currently an ASE Certified Master Automotive Technician with an Advanced Engine Performance Specialist certification. Dan received his apprenticeship training in the San Jose, California area and became a journeyman automotive technician in 1988. He worked primarily for GM dealerships in California and Washington, eventually reaching the level of Chevrolet Master Technician specializing in drivability, fuel injection, and electronics troubleshooting. In addition, Dan has worked as a trainer with Snap-On Training and Clark College.

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, ASE Master Automobile Technician

    Certificate, Certified Journeyman Automotive Technician

    Certificate, ASE Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certified

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, ASE Light Vehicle Diesel Engines Certified

    Certificate, ASE Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certified

    Certificate, ASE Master Automobile Technician

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    AA, Liberal Arts, Fresno City College

    BA, Industrial Arts, California State University Fresno

    Certificate, ASE Master M/H Truck Technician