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Junior Alvarez has had an exciting year. By day, he’s a Caterpillar field service technician for Wagner Equipment in El Paso, Texas. By night, he’s an entrepreneur who opened a sports bar with
He’s also a new homeowner. OK, so it's not common for 24-year-olds to buy their own houses these days, but Junior had a goal and he saved diligently to ensure he could become a homeowner. Sometimes that meant working up to 14 hours a day, but Junior
is driven. He didn’t mind.
“My main goal is to retire around 45, 50,” says Junior, a Universal Technical Institute (UTI) grad who sometimes works up to 65 hours a week in the field, troubleshooting CAT machines on farms, at oil fields,
at mines, for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that is building a wall along a section of the border with Mexico, and for a company that's building airport roads. With all the demand for diesel technicians, the mechanic job outlook is strong. “I know it's going to take a lot of work, but that's why I'm steady building
at a young age, putting money into my 401(k) and saving up.”
Junior is also an entrepreneur. He and his dad had long talked about opening up a business together, and this year they opened Alyssa’s Sports Bar — named after Junior's sister — in the El Paso area.
To meet his ambitious goals, Junior is willing to put in the hard work, time and dedication it takes to grow his income and savings. Yes, more often than not it means Junior puts in long hours that stretch beyond the typical work week, but he believes
it's worth it — especially when many of those hours involve something he finds stimulating: a career as a diesel technician.
What does a typical day as a Caterpillar field service technician look like for Junior?
“Here in the field service, I wake up at 5, head out by 6, do my stories for the past day and service reports, get a work order, and I could head out locally or go as far as Midland, Texas, or I might get sent to the mine in Silver City, Texas,”
says Junior. “It just depends where the workload takes us.”
Like the variety he experiences in the field, Junior's career growth is shaping up to be just as diverse.
Junior, an El Paso native, grew up working on big truck equipment with his dad, who owns a construction company. He would help his dad with oil changes or try to figure out why equipment was squeaking or faulty.
Junior says his grandpa was also a big influence on his career. His grandpa has always been a construction worker, but his hobby was automotive mechanic work. When Junior was a teenager, he started helping his grandpa with technology-related issues on
cars. Those experiences are what got him thinking about looking into automotive school.
What really caught Junior’s attention was a presentation on UTI at his high school because “the program seemed fun and cool.” He thought he might go to college to study mechanical engineering, but after a tour of UTI Avondale in Arizona, he enrolled in its Diesel Technology program.
“It was a really nice experience,” Junior says. “I really enjoyed all the instructors, who gave a lot of detail, and the classes weren't too big where you couldn't ask questions. They were always nice-sized classes and lots of hands-on
After completing the program, he enrolled in the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) Finish First program, choosing it in part because of a focus on electrical
schematics and troubleshooting.
“During my school years, electrical caught my eye a lot, so that's what I wanted to be strong in,” Junior says. “That class was really easy to me and it was something cool. As soon as I had that class, I thought now I wanted to try something
on my Cobalt SS.”
He graduated from UTI in 2014 and continues to work on what sparked his interest in the beginning.
“Electrical is a big part of troubleshooting and that's what I mostly do out in the field,” Junior says.
Caterpillar's Tier 4 Final products use new emissions technology, so there's always something for Junior to discover in his work. Junior says the work he has varies a lot, including big jobs where he works on an engine and tears it down.
While he was a student at UTI, Junior already had job interviews lined up through the school's Employment Services department. Odessa, Texas, was one location where Junior was interested
in working. He worked hard throughout school, eventually graduating with a 4.0, and the stars appeared to align when he was offered his first job as a shop technician at Warren CAT Equipment in Odessa while he was still in school.
Within a year of working there, Junior’s dedication and hard work paid off. He was promoted to lead technician, which he worked as for two more years. When he decided to move back to his hometown of El Paso, he saw a job opening and applied, leading
to his current role.
Some of the service calls he makes require two people, but Junior mostly works solo in the field. Once he determines the cause of the equipment failure, he relays that to the customer, who can either take it to the shop or have Junior fix it in the field.6
Compared to working as a shop technician, Junior says he enjoys the freedom and responsibility he has out in the field.
“In the shop, it's more micromanaged than it is outside in the field,” Junior says. “I enjoy the troubleshooting. I've always wanted to expand my knowledge rather than just being in the shop where it's already been troubleshot.”
Junior says when he was at UTI, he set a goal to work with Caterpillar equipment. It's the equipment his dad's company uses, and being a leading brand in the country, Junior says he's proud to work on one of the most recognizable names in heavy equipment.
Junior still works on cars and trucks with his family, too — just like the new bar he co-owns with his dad, and where his sister, mom and fiancée help out.
Despite his new role moonlighting as a business owner, Junior says he plans to continue working with diesel equipment throughout his working years. He says he'd like to pass on his knowledge to his future kids, just like everyone did for him, including
his instructors and people he works with.
To students who are currently at UTI, Junior advises putting 110 percent into anything they do.
“Pay attention to detail,” Junior says. “Don't ever get complacent. While you're in school, look for jobs you want to work on and set a goal.”
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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.
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.