There are two kinds of employees: those employers want to hire and those they steer clear of. Chances are if you’re walking into a quick lube ready to interview, there is a list of key questions the operator interviewing you will ask before offering you the job: Will you be good with their customers? Are you capable of the job they’re looking to fill? Are you well groomed and professional? Are you dependable? Are you educated? How much additional training will you need?
Consider making yourself more marketable to future employers while getting to tinker with the machines you love by furthering your education.
Programs offered by quality technical schools can give you certifications it can take years to get inside a dealership, making you a more attractive employee.
“Our industry partners tell us they prefer our graduates because the have the skills, background and credentials they need to hit the ground running,” said Duane Kramer, vice president of new campus operations and education programs for Universal Technical Institute (UTI).
UTI is the nation’s leading provider of education for students who want to work as professional automotive, diesel, collision repair and marine technicians. According to UTI, the U.S. will need 1.2 million of these technicians by 2022.
“The transportation industry is at a tipping point, and will need 1.2 million trained technicians by 2022. That’s more than 37,000 job openings every year,” Kramer said. “Today, the average vehicle is 11.4 years old (an all-time high), and by 2018 there will be an estimated 260 million vehicles on American roadways. With 50 percent of service technicians eligible to retire in the next 15 years, the opportunities for the upcoming techs are endless.”
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average annual wages for transportation service technicians range from $35,000 to $54,999 and Technicians who do well become service managers or service directors.
With 11 campuses around the U.S., UTI offers a multitude of learning opportunities.
“Our labs are outfitted with the latest vehicles, tools and technologies. Our manufacturer partners guide our programs, invest in our facilities and give our students the chance to work with the most current technology and tools,” Kramer said.
Students who graduate from UTI leave with skills employers want to have in their bays. They know how to diagnose, repair and maintain motor vehicles of both land and water. They go on to work in service bays, keep commercial truck fleets running, service diesel generators and even become part of race teams on the NASCAR and Motocross circuits.
Automotive technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Operators are commenting that technicians mustn’t only change oil and filters; they must also have knowledge of specific add-on services and computers.
“Our graduates spend as much time in front of a computer as they do under the hood, working on breakthrough technologies like alternative-fuel vehicles and, soon, innovations like driverless cars,” Kramer said. “It’s our job to give them the training they need to keep pace with the changes happening in the industry.”
It’s impossible to learn how to be a doctor by only practicing on dolls. Studying images and diagrams alone won’t result in you being an excellent technician, either. UTI offers some of the best hands-on learning opportunities in the industry. If you’re not a fan of flashcards and study notes, their teaching style may be for you.
“Some students learn best not from books and lectures but by digging in and doing. Hands-on learners tend to be mechanically minded, fluent in technology and genius at making things work,” Kramer said. “At UTI, we teach the way these students learn best — hands-on. Led by instructors with real-world experience, our students get to work directly with current vehicle engines, systems and chassis. The curriculum is grounded in science, technology, engineering and math, but it’s delivered in a practical way that is applicable to real-world situations.”
UTI is committed to helping hands-on learners get the education they need. Through the UTI Foundation, there are currently more than 30 types of scholarships to help students afford their education, and many of the school’s industry partners support students with tuition reimbursement plans.
“We support students throughout their experience here. We help them find safe and affordable housing near our campuses, as well as part-time jobs and internships while they attend school,” Kramer said. “We offer tutoring and special support programs for veterans. We help our graduates find jobs they love. Our employment services are for life and don’t cost anything. Since opening its doors nearly 50 years ago, UTI has trained more than 180,000 of the transportation industry’s service technicians, and we’re proud that four out of five graduates get the jobs they trained for within a year after finishing school.”
While UTI has long been committed to hands on learners and the skilled trades, Kramer says they are now seeing biases and stereotypes toward trade schools versus traditional college degrees beginning to change.
“It’s exciting to see the resurgence and growth in the industry. We expect it to continue. I’m also pleased to see attitudes about the skilled trades begin to shift. For years, there’s been a bias toward four-year college educations as the only viable path to success. Now, we’re seeing more opportunities and options for mechanically minded, hands-on learners to use their talents and expertise,” Kramer said. “Transportation is the fourth largest sector in the nation and today comprises over 16 million jobs in total. One in seven jobs in the nation is in the transportation industry. We’re pleased to see the people who make this industry run get the credit and respect they deserve.”
Whether you’re an operator looking to hire employees who will help your shop along the road to victory or a technician (or future technician) just looking for a road period, education is the key to finding both.
Some say doctors have it easy because they work on only one model — human. Automotive technicians have to know how to work on hundreds of models and keep up with ever-changing technology.
Be a part of the next generation of talented and passionate technicians by furthering your education in the industry that is now hiring.