Richland Community College’s Automotive Collision Repair program was recently recognized by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) for receiving Master accreditation in Damage Analysis/Estimating/Customer Service, Painting & Refinishing, Non-Structural Analysis/Damage Repair, Structural Analysis/Damage Repair, and Mechanical and Electrical Components – the highest level of program accreditation recognized by the ASE.

According to Andy Hynds, Dean of Mathematics, Science and Business, “Richland now offers the only ASE certified Collision Repair program in Central Illinois. Courses are hands-on and are taught in the state-of-the-art Workforce Development Institute. Certificates can be earned in as little as five months, with degree options to enhance one’s skills.”

The Decatur area has seen growth in job openings in this field added Hynds, “The Collision Repair industry is a clear path to a rewarding career. In recent years there have been an average of 25 job openings annually in Decatur and surrounding counties. A specialist in the field can expect to earn an average of $20 per hour, with plenty of opportunities for work.”

Kent Mears, Assistant Professor for the program, has been working in the collision industry for over 43 years and has been at Richland for eight years. He feels the program has been a success because of its emphasis on training students for long-term careers. He said, “I ask my students the first day if they want a job or career where you can receive benefits and take great pride in your work. This program opens the door for you to find positions that are open all over the United States. You can even be done with your training in just one year or less.”

Registration for fall classes is currently underway. Visit to find out more or call (217) 875-7211, ext. 6267 to talk about this program and many more. Classes begin August 12.