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The Automotive Technician Shortage: What Does This Mean For Your Career?

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute Feb 27, 2020 ·

Technicians play an important role in our world, and their work goes far beyond completing repairs on the vehicles we drive every day. They maintenance and repair the vehicles that transport food and other goods across the country.

They work on the public transportation systems many of us rely on to travel around the city. Some even work behind the scenes on the cars we love to watch race on the weekends.

Without technicians, society wouldn’t be able to function at the speed and efficiency we’re accustomed to. When we look at our daily lives, so much of what we do is possible thanks to the skills of automotive technicians.

While the demand for technicians is great, our country is currently experiencing an automotive technician shortage. So why is this? Keep reading to learn all about the demand for automotive technicians and how this is opening the door to exciting opportunities for those skilled in the trade.  

Understanding the Automotive Technician Shortage

Employers across the nation agree that the demand for skilled technicians is at an all-time high. According to Mark Malizzi, Service Director for Fred Beans Ford of Boyertown, there is an estimated projected shortage of 45,000 technicians next year.

This shortage creates a significant challenge for employers in dealerships, shops, collision centers and anywhere that hires technicians. Employers rely on the skills of technicians to move their businesses forward, and without them, they can suffer the consequences.

While new tools and technology have greatly impacted the automotive industry, they can’t replace the job of a technician. In fact, technicians trained to use this new equipment are needed now more than ever. As the older generation of technicians begins to phase out of the workforce, a new generation of technicians trained to work on today’s complex vehicles will be needed to step up to the challenge.

Factors That Impact the Mechanic Shortage

So why is there such a shortage of automotive technicians? When taking a closer look, we can see that there are multiple factors that have led to the current skills gap.

According to Mark, the shift in the types of vehicles that were being created contributed to today’s shortage. As a former technician himself, Mark shares that his generation was interested in hot rodding and making cars more powerful. This attracted many enthusiasts to the career at the time.

Then, about 10 to 15 years ago, there was a shift, and the cars that were being made were viewed as lackluster. The younger generation didn’t see these cars as exciting to work on, which led to a disinterest in the career. However, due to exciting advancements in technology, today’s industry looks entirely different.

“Now, we have the best of both worlds,” Mark shares. Today’s technicians work on really nice high performance vehicles that rely on computer technology to run, which is changing the perception of this career path. “It’s interesting to the next generation because they can use their computer skills as much as their mechanical skills,” Mark continues.

On a similar note, another factor that has led to today’s technician shortage is the misconception of what this career entails. Being a technician isn’t about simply turning wrenches—it’s a high tech career that can lead to exciting opportunities for advancement!

What’s the Solution?

Despite the technician shortage, thousands of people still choose to pursue this career path every day. For those who love to work using their head and their hands, becoming an automotive technician can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career. The future looks promising for auto technicians, and there are several ways the industry can work to fill the skills gap.

Career Exploration

One of the most impactful ways to solve the technician shortage is to reach the younger generation and inform them of the possibilities that can come with a career in the automotive industry. According to Mark, planting the seed earlier in the minds of young people can increase interest in the career. 

Today, many high school students are pushed to attend 4-year colleges and universities, and while this may be the right path for some, it’s not for everyone. When going to a traditional college is presented as the only option, students can miss out on the opportunities that can come with pursuing a career in the trades.

“The car business is rewarding,” Mark shares. This is why he travels to high schools and has started programs to increase students’ awareness of careers in the automotive industry. By training to become a technician, students have the ability to make a great living using their computer and mechanical skills.

Empowering the Next Generation of Techs through Education

The work of an automotive technician is very specialized, which requires the right training. Completing a trade school program, such as the Automotive Technology program offered by Universal Technical Institute, can equip you with the knowledge and skills the industry requires. Plus, you may be able to complete your training in less than a year, versus the 4-year timeline many college students have to follow.

Universal Technical Institute has trained technicians for over 54 years and has become known as a leading provider of technical training. UTI’s staff and instructors at the 12 campus locations across the country are committed to empowering aspiring technicians with an education that can help them to build a career that lasts a lifetime.

Industry Connections

Connections go a long way in the automotive industry, and specialized training programs provide a great way for students to gain in-demand skills and connect with employers.

For example, UTI’s BMW Service Technician Education Program (STEP) was created in conjunction with BMW and provides select students with extensive training on BMW vehicles. In addition to giving graduates a leg up when applying for jobs, it also provides BMW with a pipeline of skilled technicians who are already trained to work on their vehicles. Programs like this can help to bridge the skills gap and benefit both the student and manufacturer.

Incentive Programs

Earning an automotive education is becoming more and more of a requirement among employers today. However, school is a big financial investment for many. For this reason, some trade schools offer scholarships, grants and incentive programs that may include tuition reimbursement.  

For example, UTI’s Tuition Reimbursement Incentive Program (TRIP) makes it possible for select students to benefit from student loan repayment assistance, hiring incentive packages, tool purchase assistance and more.

Programs like this help to lower the cost of education for aspiring technicians, which in turn is drawing more people to the career. As organizations like UTI and TechForce Foundation continue to work to make education more affordable, this will have a positive impact on the technician shortage.

Mentorship

Mentorship plays an important role in career development. Whether you’re a high school graduate just getting started in your career or have been in the workforce for some time, having someone you can ask questions, look up to and follow by example can help you grow in your career.

Many technicians in today’s industry are experiencing incredible success in their careers, and if these technicians share their stories with the younger generation, this can make a significant impact on the technician shortage. Hearing from those who have gone before you is not only inspirational, but it can provide you with the information you need to determine if a career in the auto industry is right for you.

Additionally, many experienced technicians decide to become instructors and pass their knowledge on to others. There is no textbook that can match the real-world experience that a passionate instructor brings to the classroom, so instructors at trade schools across the nation will play a critical role in mentoring and training technicians to meet industry demand.

What Does The Demand for Auto Mechanics Mean For Your Career?

So what does all of this mean for your career?

If you’ve ever considered becoming an automotive technician, there is no better time than now. The industry is full of exciting opportunities for those who love to work with their hands and want to build a long-term career. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and technicians who are trained to use the latest tools and diagnostic equipment are in high demand.

The career of a technician has changed drastically in the last 20 years, and it will continue to evolve in the years to come. If you’re a car enthusiast and are looking for a job where no two days are alike, this could be the perfect choice. One of the 45,000 jobs expected to open in the upcoming year could be yours!

To learn more about the variety of career paths auto technicians can pursue, read our career guide.

Train for a Growing Industry at UTI

UTI’s 51-week Automotive Technology program is offered at 12 campus locations across the country, and Housing Assistance is available for students who need to relocate while earning their education. To learn more, visit our program page and request information today.

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