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High-Tech Jobs: What It Takes to Be an Automotive Technician

Dec 10, 2018 ·

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Terry Borkman has seen the technology in cars go from simple combustion engines to elaborate computer systems on wheels.

From electronic fuel injection in the 1950s to adaptive cruise control and the autonomous vehicles of today, cars are becoming more technologically advanced. And the advancements are only coming faster.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how advanced the technology becomes. Borkman, who’s an instructor at Universal Technical Institute in Avondale, Arizona, knows that one thing is true.

“They aren’t going to fix themselves."

He also knows that the training required to become automotive tech or mechanic in today’s marketplace is becoming more advanced.

“Anyone can throw on brakes if they are squeaking,” Borkman says. “But what if the ABS light is on or the check engine light is on? That takes someone who really knows what they’re doing.”

Students in Automotive Technician Training

The Future of the Automotive Industry

When it comes to computing technology, today’s vehicles are more advanced than the first Apollo. Don’t take our word for it. That information is coming directly from

Since 1996, the government has required cars to be manufactured with an Onboard Diagnostic System (OBD). The universal diagnostic port provides a code that makes it easier for the DIYer to determine the problem. But fixing the issues? That’s more technical than ever.

The days of the shade-tree mechanic effectively repairing modern vehicles are long gone. If you want to become an auto mechanic, you need to be able to fix the complex electrical systems that help power today’s cars and trucks.

According to The Globe and Mail, the automotive industry has seen the most change of any industry in a generation. It cites the Computer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas as just as important as Detroit’s North American International Auto Show when it comes to the technology in modern vehicles.

Do You Need to Go to a Trade School to Become a Professional Automotive Technician?

An entire generation of mechanics is retiring, and there simply aren’t enough qualified automotive technicians to take their place, let alone to cover the growing demand. That means there’s a giant hole to fill.

So, here’s the question: do you need to attend a trade school like Universal Technical Institute in order to become a professional automotive technician or mechanic?

Look, we’d be disingenuous if we didn’t tell you that there’s more than one path to becoming a pro. But we’d also be lying if we didn’t mention that there are definite benefits when it comes to attending a trade school.

Universal Technical Institute’s classes are designed to prepare you for a career as an automotive technician or mechanic. And the curriculum is designed with some of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world. Why? Because they want to help graduates get prepared for careers that are in demand, and they want to help ensure that graduates from Universal Technical Institute know how to effectively repair the cars and trucks that are rolling off of their assembly lines.1

Debunking the Myth That Technicians and Mechanics Are Dropouts

There’s a stigma that people who attend technical and trade schools are dropouts who didn’t have many other options when it came to a career. But that’s a dying myth. Our classes tackle the complete vehicle systems, bumper to bumper, including complex electrical systems, and it takes intellect and serious problem-solving skills to effectively tackle that work.

The Benefits of Manufacturer-Specific Training

Another advantage when it comes to attending trade school is the opportunity to take Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training programs with leading brands like BMW, Toyota, Ford Motor Company, and Volvo. These and other MSAT programs offered at UTI allow students to learn niche brand information for more specialized career placement post-graduation.15

Other benefits of attending a trade school like UTI include:

  • Manufacturer training on complex electrical systems
  • Access to state-of-the-industry tools and vehicles
  • A head start on certifications

Student checking electrical current running through a vehicle

Typical Career Paths for Technicians and Mechanics

You can certainly become a mechanic without going to trade school, but it may end up taking you longer to get where you want to go.2 Then again, attending Universal Technical Institute isn’t a promise that you’ll get a head start. The truth is that we can’t guarantee that you’ll get a job.

The opportunities set before you are up to you. That means if you commit to attending Universal Technical Institute, you need show up every day and you need to show up on time. Don’t believe us? Ask the people who hire our students. One of the first things they ask our graduates is for their attendance records. In fact, some of those hiring managers believe that attendance is nearly as important as your grades.

When you’re in class, pay attention. Take notes. Ask questions. Build relationships with your instructors and your fellow classmates. Do what it takes to be the best you can be as a student, and those qualities will likely help you find success as a professional. 

The tech in cars may have changed, but some things never will. “Integrity is huge,” Borkman says, referring the integrity he expects to see from his students. He believes that same integrity will help set them apart once they enter the workplace, no matter what they decide to do.6

If you're interested in learning more about Universal Technical Institute, request information about our technician training programs and see if we're the right fit for you.

UTI Campuses That Offer Automotive Technician Training

NASCAR Technical Institute Campuses That Offer Automotive Technician Training

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

6) UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation. Programs available at select locations.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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