Atlanta Technical College trains automotive technicians

With more than 200 students enrolled, automotive technology is one of Atlanta Technical College’s most popular programs.

“Automotive technicians are thriving in Atlanta. In this economy, people are hanging onto their existing cars longer, and older cars require more service,” said Terreta Rodgers, director of college advancement at Atlanta Tech.

Students can complete the diploma program in five semesters and gain good prospects for an entry-level job as an auto technician. Graduates are equipped with the theory, practical application and training required to work on electrical systems, brake systems, engines, suspension and steering, climate control, automatic transmissions and other parts of automobiles.

Graduates can start working at dealerships and private repair shops making $35,000 to $39,520, on average. Some will eventually start their own auto maintenance and repair businesses.

“Through our work with the governor’s Go Build Georgia campaign, we’ve made a concerted effort to get the word out to high school students, parents and counselors about how lucrative and satisfying a career this can be,” Rodgers said. “These workers are now called technicians, rather than mechanics, because the work is highly technical. The job requires more than wielding a wrench. Technicians have to know computers and electrical systems.”

People who can pay keen attention to detail, work well with their hands, and possess computer skills and good work ethics are well-suited for the field.

According to Rodgers, many students in the program are older and changing careers. “For those who have been out of school awhile and need help with math or computers, we have an excellent learning support program,” she said.

Students may take day or night classes and start during any semester. Tuition and fees for the program run about $7,000, with scholarships and financial aid grants available.

For top graduates, there’s another career opportunity. They may qualify for free BMW STEP (service technician education program) training.

“The partnership between Atlanta Tech and BMW began when Hank Aaron couldn’t find enough qualified technicians for his own dealership in 2003. He helped bring the BMW STEP program to Georgia, and made it possible for students to do the six-month training program in Atlanta, rather than having to travel to Florida,” said Gladys Camp, vice president of academic affairs at Atlanta Tech.

Those accepted into the program learn skills at the training center and apply them while working at BMW dealerships in metro Atlanta.

“STEP Level 1 intensive training encompasses all the training needed, and students receive two of the five years of experience required toward becoming a BMW master technician,” Camp said. “It’s a great opportunity to obtain Level 1 certification in six months at no cost, and it gives graduates a competitive edge to secure employment with a highly recognized and respected brand in the industry. They’ll be employed by BMW within 30 days.”

To learn more about Atlanta Tech's automotive program, contact Louis Terrell at 404-225-4622 or For information about BMW STEP, go to