Can You Succeed at UTI With No Prior Mechanic Work Experience?


Rapidly evolving technology in the automotive industry means there is always something new to learn. That’s great news for students at Universal Technical Institute (UTI).

For most students, no matter what your current experience level is, there’s an opportunity to grow as an automotive technician.

People without previous mechanical knowledge often wonder if they will be able to grasp the curriculum and keep up with the other students. But enrolling at UTI with beginner experience — or even no experience at all — is common. And experience prior to starting classes at UTI does not determine success.

There’s always something new to learn, even for seasoned veterans who have wrenched their entire lives. After all, technology is a driving force in the design and manufacture of late-model vehicles. That means hands-on training with new technology has become one of the prerequisites for students who are preparing for automotive technician and mechanic careers that are in demand.1

Students who come to school with prior experience are accommodated throughout every class, too. They can learn the precise recommended processes and get up-to-date knowledge directly from the manufacturers who help develop the curriculum. And the inclusive learning environment at UTI prepares students to feel confident after graduation.

Auto Mechanic Student Monitoring Car Diagnostics

Benefits of UTI for Beginner to Experienced Skill Levels

For anyone who wants to become a mechanic or technician, UTI teaches foundational skills with techniques informed by the 30+ manufacturers UTI has relationships with.

Students start out with core courses that cover:

  • Mechanics theories
  • Auto technician terminology
  • Parts functionality

As study progresses, each course builds on previous lessons. For students with advanced knowledge in certain courses, they may have the option to test out of the course, though the lectures from instructors and collaborative classwork are irreplaceable.

“Our instructors have worked in the field and add practical experience, which is invaluable,” says Tom Gleason, education manager at UTI in Avondale, Arizona. “There's always something there that students will learn.”

After completing the core program that includes minimal educational requirements, students may enroll in Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training (MSAT) courses.11 These courses feature work with brands like BMW, GM, Ford, Toyota and Volvo. Ever wonder how to become a Toyota mechanic? We can help with that!

Some MSAT courses are paid by manufacturers. All MSAT courses provide students with more job growth opportunities and enable students to pursue work with the brands they are passionate about.15 You can learn more about student-paid versus manufacturer-paid specialized training programs here.

Students Working Under-the-Hood

Resources That Help Auto Technician Students

The instructors and resources students gain access to at UTI help ensure they get the information and assistance they need to prepare for a career as a technician or mechanic. The student services teams are available to assist with anything from on-campus tutoring to veterans’ resources.

Adam Heller, national admissions director for UTI, says the way UTI’s classes are set up is beneficial for students. Since each class is presented one at a time for three weeks, students without industry experience get to participate in immersive learning that gets them up to speed.

“You have intense training that is very hands-on and very in-depth for accelerated learning,” Adam says. “What you might learn in 12 to 15 weeks in manufacturer training would take up to five years otherwise.”

Attending a trade school like UTI can also be a cost-effective way to get the valuable hands-on experience you need in the field. An education at UTI takes less time than a traditional four-year university. Plus, there are scholarships available for trade school students as well.10

UTI Automotive Mechanic Student Working

One Graduate's Story

Eric Bessette knows firsthand what it's like to enroll at UTI as a student with zero prior mechanic work experience. Eric, who is now an advanced training manager at UTI in Arizona, entered UTI as a student in 1996. After serving in the Navy, Eric wanted to pursue a vocational school and enrolled in UTI with the desire to learn in-demand skills that would translate to a meaningful career.

He saw that as technology became more sophisticated in the cars his friends were purchasing, the need for professional auto technicians to do even basic tasks like oil changes or brake work was becoming essential. He believes that his UTI education was a powerful addition to his résumé, and he says the technician credentials he earned during his MSAT study enabled him to hit the ground running upon graduation.6

Eric says students with any type of skill level who have an interest in technology will be intellectually stimulated at UTI, since they get to work with manufacturer tools that may not be available in independent shops.

UTI classes may be very different than what students might expect from auto technician training.

“If you like tinkering with technology, that’s what cars are nowadays,” Eric says. “They’re like very heavy cell phones, all control modules and all electronic. It’s not righty-tighty, lefty-loosey like it used to be. It’s a lot of critical thinking. You can have two different cars with the same complaint, and there could be five or six different things causing that complaint.”

By attending UTI, students get to learn specialized electronic diagnostics using current technologies and tools.

Automotive Tech Students at Work

Keys to Success for Any Skill Level

It's increasingly rare for students to arrive at UTI with familiarity with late-model vehicle technology. Because most vehicles today are difficult to work on as an amateur, many students have never seen under the hood of a car, let alone tinkered with it. UTI instructors make it their mission to be very involved with students so they get the care and help they need to flourish.

“Anybody who comes here is capable of learning,” Tom Gleason says. “I have a student who came in and knew nothing about vehicles. He’s thriving now and doing really well in his upper-level classes. Attitude and effort are important.”

Tom adds that for people who have no previous experience but who want a career that is exciting and challenging, UTI may be a great avenue to pursue.2

“People who like to do things with their hands are a natural fit, but we also want to consider those who are looking at not wanting to go into a typical college career,” Tom says. “If they don’t find an interest there but want something that will stimulate their minds, this field is a very high-level service diagnostics field. You have to be agile and adaptive and have a high level of problem-solving and critical thinking skills.”

If you have an interest in working as an automotive technician, no matter what your skill level is, you can apply online today or request more information about studying at UTI. Our admissions representatives are happy to help answer any questions you might have.

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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.
10 ) Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
11 ) See program details for eligibility requirements and conditions that may apply.
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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