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At the age of 21, Rogelio Ruiz is responsible for the livelihoods of many business owners around his hometown of Artesia, New Mexico. As the resident tech for 4Rivers Equipment based in Hobbs, New Mexico,
Rogelio fixes diesel engines for farm and oil field equipment. Without his work, businesses in the area could lose thousands of dollars' worth of production.
When a tractor used to feed cows at dairy farms goes down, for example, the cows don't eat. When they don't eat, they lose nutrition, and that affects milk production. For every hour a loader is down, it’s estimated that a farm loses $10,000 worth
of nutrition for its cows.
That's a lot of responsibility for such a young man who graduated high school in 2015. Rogelio is the youngest resident tech and mechanic at his company. He has the freedom to work out of his house, going from appointment to appointment to keep businesses
up and running.
“It's a lot of responsibility,” says Rogelio, who graduated from the Diesel Technology program at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in Avondale,
Arizona, in 2016. “I'm responsible for parts, for talking to customers, for writing out my time and sending it to my manager. For my employer to trust me, it means a lot.”
To have the autonomy that many in 30-year-long careers only dream about is a significant accomplishment for Rogelio. And to think, he originally planned to be a truck driver.
Rogelio's father has a trucking company and taught Rogelio mechanics at an early age when they worked on semis together at home. Rogelio says the way a diesel engine works — through compression, not a spark — attracted his attention. Plus,
with trucks, Rogelio says, “everything is a lot bigger, a lot more horsepower and a lot more torque, and I think that's pretty crazy to work on.”
While many of his peers had plans to be truck drivers, it was a UTI presentation he heard in his high school mechanics class that made Rogelio realize he could develop his skills in a more professional way. He liked the sound of hands on automotive training, but there weren't many diesel mechanics in his area,
so Rogelio figured that path might provide better job security. He made his way to UTI.
The UTI Employment Assistance program helped land Rogelio his first job as an agricultural diesel technician in Artesia.
“I moved back to Artesia [after graduating UTI], and the next day I had a job,” Rogelio says.
After working there for about two years, he transitioned to 4Rivers Equipment, a company Rogelio says is continually investing in its employees by providing paid electrical engine-specific technology education. While at UTI, Rogelio had a goal to get
a normal mechanic job, but he says his current role is a lot better than what he had planned.
“I get benefits, I get a 401(k), I get insurance — I get everything,” Rogelio says. “For me, coming out of UTI, I was actually scared to fail, and that's what probably helped me get to where I am right now. Anybody that's coming
out of UTI, go work somewhere where they're going to give you continuing education.”
While Rogelio says he enjoys diagnosing and doing electrical work for the vast array of diesel equipment he has been able to master, one of the most rewarding parts of his job is connecting with clients and providing them with reliable diesel solutions.
4Rivers Equipment is also a John Deere dealership. While Rogelio works on all types of diesel equipment that need maintenance, it's his job to also provide recommendations for John Deere equipment that will work for his clients.
“My career goals are to expand the John Deere equipment in my area and make my area as big as possible,” Rogelio says. “The better service I give the customer, the happier they are. The happier they are, the more they'll want John Deere
Rogelio continues, “I'm not just a technician at this point. I'm my own service writer and kind of a salesperson because I promote John Deere equipment. It's a lot of jobs in one. I do a lot for just a technician.”1
Rogelio says he could see himself being a manager in several years, but he doesn't know how he'd be able to let go of the field, the service truck and the excitement of “being out here.”
One of the favorite parts of his job is the pressure. “The adrenaline of $10,000 an hour that a client is losing – it's basically all on me,” Rogelio says. “That's when the adrenaline kicks in, and that's when I basically kick
into overdrive and get stuff done. It feels good when someone is stressed out because they're losing money, and you go over there and basically save the day. That's the highlight of my job.”
Rogelio says he might work up to 120 hours every 2 weeks, but he enjoys scheduling his own day and prioritizing his workload. One of his first major rewards since he began his career was the purchase of his first new truck. But he has much loftier ambitions
in mind for the future.
“My goal was to be one of the best mechanics in the shop, and I think I've been one of the best ones to get to where I am right now,” Rogelio says. “A goal is always to continue to be better than I was a month ago. I am always trying
to better myself, not based on other people, but to be better than myself.”
For current UTI students who aspire to have the same career success Rogelio has seen in just a few years out of school, he advises:
Rogelio's dad is proud of his son today, Rogelio says, and really happy about where this next-generation mechanic arrived in only the early stages of his career. With drive and determination, Rogelio says other UTI students can carve a similar path.
“Know that this is hard work, and it's not going to be handed to you,” Rogelio says. “You actually have to work for it. It's what you make from it. If you put in 100 percent, you're going to get out 100 percent.”
Learn more about UTI's Diesel program.
Today’s cars are more complex than the computers that guided the first Apollo! That means what it takes to qualify as an automotive technician is changing.
Junior Alvarez graduated from UTI Avondale's Diesel Technology Program. He works as a Caterpillar field service tech by day. And he's an entrepreneur by night.
Check out these 5 Tips for running an auto repair shop from UTI grad, Richard Perez.
It only takes a few minutes to learn about technician training opportunities.
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, and to review the applicable Gainful Employment disclosure, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
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.
7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual
job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth
and net replacements.
14) Incentive programs and employee eligibility are at the discretion of the employer and available at select locations. Special conditions may apply. Talk to potential employers to learn more about the programs available in your area.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.
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