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The transportation industry is booming in cities across the nation. This includes Bloomfield, New Jersey—home to Universal Technical Institute’s newest campus.
UTI-Bloomfield might be new to the scene, but it has certainly made a big impact since its opening in 2018. The campus offers UTI’s Automotive and Diesel core programs in addition to the Ford Accelerated Credential Training (FACT) program for those who want to further their education with manufacturer-specific training.
Students who choose to attend UTI-Bloomfield train in classrooms and labs fully equipped with industry tools and technology. Courses are led by passionate instructors with real-world experience, giving students an inside look at what it’s like to pursue a career in the field.
Perhaps the most exciting part about the opening of UTI-Bloomfield has been the connections the campus has made with local employers. These relationships benefit both students and employers—opening the door to potential job opportunities for students and providing employers in the area with qualified, passionate and skilled technicians who are ready to fill positions.
Read along as two employers in the Bloomfield, New Jersey area share what they look for when hiring technicians as well as their tips for advancing in the field.
Just like in many other places, the demand for skilled technicians is high in New Jersey. According to Kurt Steger, General Manager of Open Road Volkswagen of Bridgewater, “It seems that we don’t see as many people going into the field as we have in the past. The demand is really increasing in the field, and we’re seeing the same need growing more and more for skilled technicians. It hasn’t ever been greater than it is now.”
According to Christopher Gioffre, Service Director for Ray Catena Motor Car Corp., “With today’s technology, technicians are almost like engineers to work on these vehicles. You still need the hands-on skill, but a lot of it is brainpower. You really have to be able to diagnose and put thought into everything.”
The career of a technician today differs greatly from what it was several years ago. An entire generation of mechanics are retiring, and there simply aren’t enough qualified technicians to take their place, let alone to cover the growing industry demand. There’s a giant hole to fill—which means a new generation of technicians who are in-tune with today’s evolving technology will be needed to step up to the challenge.
As an aspiring technician, it can be helpful to know the qualities employers look for when hiring.
According to Kurt, employers look for longevity. “We look for longevity with whatever they put themselves into, whether it be an employer they were with before us or their schooling,” he says. This shows commitment—which is exactly what employers want in their very own techs.
“From there, we look at qualifications, education and previous experience,” he continues. Technicians who are dedicated, passionate and have hands-on experience can really catch the eye of employers.
According to Christopher, one of the biggest things employers look for is drive. “You have to want to be a technician,” he says. “The most successful technicians we have are the young men and women who are tinkering long before they go into any kind of secondary schooling or high school.”
In addition to drive, Christopher shares that he looks for candidates with great character and professionalism. “In my interview process, I tell everyone you can be the best at what you do, but if you lack good character, we don’t want you,” he says. Being a team player and having the willingness to learn goes a long way in this industry.
Both Kurt and Christopher have worked closely with Universal Technical Institute, and have even hired UTI graduates!
When speaking to his relationship with UTI, Kurt shared, “So far, our experience has been excellent. We have a tremendous relationship that we’ve developed over a short amount of time.”
Each time he has visited the campus, Kurt has been impressed by UTI students. “To see the amount of students who greet us in the hallways and shake our hands and present themselves in a professional manner is astounding. It’s something you don’t see in many other industries and many other schools,” he says.
Kurt regularly visits UTI-Bloomfield to speak to classes and give students an idea of what they can expect from a career in a dealership. He has found that many of the students feel as though working at a dealership is out of reach for them—but he wants to change this perspective. “We understand that they’re well educated by UTI. We want them early and want to be able to bring them in and continue their education at the dealership level,” he says.
Open Road Volkswagen of Bridgewater partners with UTI to offer tuition and tool reimbursement as well as sign-on bonuses. This provides students with the opportunity to save on their training while gaining valuable experience with manufacturers.
“There’s nothing that rivals the education a technician can get through a manufacturer at a dealership level. We invest in that technician throughout their career—we send them to school, and they get the latest technology and information for the vehicles they’re working on,” Kurt says. According to him, it’s the best of both worlds for a technician.
Christopher has also been involved with UTI-Bloomfield, visiting the campus for career fairs and luncheons to get to know the students. When speaking of the students, he says, “I’ve been impressed with their desire to be in the field.”
“When they know this is what they want to do, it makes it a lot easier for us to not have to second guess them,” he continues. Students who show commitment and dedication to their work are the ones employers can count on. These same students are often the ones who climb the ranks in the dealership and advance to higher roles throughout their career.
One of the most exciting aspects of pursuing a career in the automotive industry is that you don’t necessarily have to stay in one place for the entirety of your career. Opportunities for advancement are abundant for skilled technicians who have a passion for what they do.
Kurt knows many general managers, just like himself, who started out as technicians and worked their way up. According to him, “The sky is the limit in the dealership. It doesn’t end just where you’re sitting. Many technicians in our industry are sitting in service management positions that were technicians at some point and started out sweeping the floors in a shop.”
“There are general managers, vice presidents, and many people in our organization and other dealerships throughout the country that were at one point turning a wrench in a shop. It’s not uncommon for them to grow to unimaginable heights in this industry,” he continues.
When it comes to giving advice to future technicians, Kurt says not to doubt what you’re capable of. He has seen many students who don’t feel they’re qualified, however, the skills they possess are in high demand. “Our need for them is going to be greater than their need for work,” he says.
Additionally, professionalism goes a long way. Kurt advises to always put a professional foot forward when meeting an employer for the first time. When speaking of UTI students, he shares, “They need to take what they’ve learned at UTI and carry it forward. It’s amazing how far professionalism, how they carry themselves and their approach to their career will go with an employer over almost anything else. It will take them far, no doubt.”
Christopher knows firsthand what it takes to advance in a dealership environment. He worked as a technician for 10 years, but knew this wasn’t what he wanted to do forever. He started branching off and asking questions about different areas he could go into, which eventually led to him becoming service director.
“You get what you give,” he says. “If you want to be the best, you have to put in extra effort. Get as much knowledge on the product as you can. Learn about all of the areas we have. Ask questions. Stay late. Come early. Engulf yourself in the dealership to learn as much as you can to separate yourself from the rest. If you put in the work, you will get the results.”
According to Christopher, there are many areas of the dealership technicians can be successful in—all they have to do is ask. “If students are interested in some other aspect of the dealership, they need to ask. They need to open up and speak to their manager about their desire to possibly branch off to another position in the dealership in the future. We take great pride as an organization in promoting from within,” he says.
Those who get their start as technicians have a great advantage when it comes to applying for other roles in the dealership. All of the experience they have is beneficial, from their technical know-how to their ability to communicate with customers. Training to become a technician can open doors to exciting opportunities down the road!
With the growing number of vehicles on the road and the constant development of advanced technologies, the demand for technicians continues to rise in Bloomfield and across the country. If this is a career path you’re considering, now is a great time to start your training.
UTI’s 12 campuses across the country deliver the hands-on experience needed to succeed as a technician in the field. To learn more, request information today.
Discover Universal Technical Institute's new Bloomfield campus in Bloomfield, NJ. Classes begin this fall 2018.
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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.