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The coronavirus pandemic has affected our world in many ways—one of the most significant being our ability to work and do business as usual.
While much of our country is shut down, there are still cars on the road. These vehicles are transporting essential workers as well as important goods we need to keep our society and economy moving forward. When there are cars on the road, this requires
skilled technicians who can work on them.
NASCAR Tech graduate Nathan Armas has experienced this firsthand. He currently works in a shop of eight technicians—seven of whom are NASCAR Tech grads!1 While
stay-at-home orders are in place for many of us, Nathan and his team are working to keep cars on the road in their city.
Keep reading to learn all about Nathan’s path to becoming a technician and how his shop is playing an important role during this pandemic.
Nathan grew up in the garage. His stepfather rebuilt classic cars, so he was exposed to the industry from a young age. He loved tinkering on cars and learning about how they work.
Nathan’s passion for the automotive industry carried into high school. His school didn’t have an auto shop class, but he gained experience working at a local Dodge dealership. He worked at the dealership all throughout high school and fell
in love with it.
After graduating, Nathan headed to Sacramento State to play baseball and study U.S. History. However, his love for cars remained. He continued working at the Dodge dealership into his sophomore year of college, and shortly after started working for a
race team in Sacramento.
While Nathan was in college, he began thinking about the future. He was interested in history, but didn’t see himself pursuing it as a long-term career. “The more schooling I went through, the more I realized my passion had always been cars,”
After three years, he made the decision to leave college and pursue a career doing what he loved.
Nathan had heard of NASCAR Tech through connections he had from the racing team. While he was working with the team, one of the drivers moved to Mooresville, North Carolina—where NASCAR Tech is located.
Even though Nathan had experience working in the industry, he knew he needed formal training if he really wanted to turn it into his career. In 2008, he enrolled at NASCAR Tech and
headed to Mooresville to complete his training!
Nathan completed the Automotive Technology program with the 15-week NASCAR elective.
During his training, he had the opportunity to meet people from all different backgrounds. Many of his classmates had prior experience in the industry just like him, so in addition to learning from his instructors,
he learned a lot from his peers.
One of Nathan’s favorite classes was his fabrication course, as this was something he hadn’t been trained in before. He also enjoyed his NASCAR and high performance classes. “They gave me an extra set of skills,” he shares.
While Nathan went to NASCAR Tech with prior work experience, his training gave him the foundation of knowledge he needed to jump-start his career in the industry.
“The biggest thing NASCAR Tech did for me was boost my confidence,” he says. “The more education you get, the more confident you are in your diagnostic and repair skills.”
After graduating from NASCAR Tech, Nathan stayed in North Carolina and went to work for Lake Norman Infiniti—where he still works today!1
According to Nathan, his shop is unique in that none of their techs are limited to a certain area like you might find at a traditional dealership. “Every person in our shop does a little bit of everything,” he says. This makes it so that anyone
can take on whatever comes through the door.
Nathan and his team focus mostly on servicing customer vehicles. They do a lot of oil changes, light maintenance and electrical diagnostics. They also deal with a lot of complex C.A.N. networking diagnostics, wiring issues and electrical problems.
One of Nathan’s favorite aspects of his job is being able to pass his knowledge on to other technicians. In fact, after working in the field for some time, Nathan returned to NASCAR Tech as an instructor. He taught core automotive courses for a
year and a half and eventually returned to Lake Norman Infiniti to mentor technicians in the field.
Today, Nathan’s team is made up of eight technicians—seven of whom are NASCAR Tech graduates.
“It’s neat because everyone pretty much has the same background,” Nathan shares. Some of the technicians have less than five years of experience, and others, like Nathan, have more than ten.
According to Nathan, the older, more experienced techs look over the younger techs and are there to provide support and guidance when needed. “It’s a unique dynamic because everyone helps each other out,” he says.
While some dealerships adopt an ‘every man for himself’ mentality, Nathan says his shop is just the opposite. They are truly a team and are there to support one another.
While many industries have shut down due to COVID-19, Nathan and his team are still going into work. Right now, they’re working a ‘three off, three on’ schedule—meaning their team is split into two groups that alternate three-day
shifts. Despite things being a bit slower, there is still work to be done.
“Now is a great time for people to bring in their cars and get warranty repairs that they don’t have to pay out of pocket for,” Nathan shares. This new schedule has also allowed the team to take on some bigger, more time-consuming jobs,
such as putting in new transmissions.
According to Nathan, “Regardless of what’s going on in the world, people need cars to get around. They’re always going to bring them in for service.” Right now, essential workers still need to travel to work, and there has to be
someone there to maintain and service those vehicles.
Nathan is very glad he’s chosen a career path that is in-demand. “We’re lucky to be able to go into work at least three days a week,” he shares. Times aren’t easy, but Nathan and his team are playing a critical role in keeping
cars on the road.
Once the dust settles and things go back to normal, Nathan expects his workload to pick back up. The shop may even be busier than before because people will need repairs they’ve been putting off.
For Nathan, being a technician is much more than working on cars—it’s given him an opportunity to empower the next generation. He loves being someone others can come to and ask questions.
“Being able to build someone up who’s working across from me and help them get better at their job is the most rewarding part,” he shares.
Nathan’s advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in this industry is to gain as much hands-on experience as you can. In order to succeed, you have to be passionate—so it’s important to make sure you love it.
Working at his local dealership and the Sacramento race team is what really confirmed that this was the right path for Nathan. He encourages anyone who’s considering a career in the field to start by gaining experience, and if it’s truly something
you love, enroll in a training program to gain the skills you need to get to the next level.
When Nathan isn’t busy working at the dealership, he loves rebuilding classic cars. Living in Mooresville, the motorsports capital of the world, he also enjoys getting involved in any type of racing he can.
Giving back to the community is also an important priority for Nathan. He and his wife are involved with several nonprofit organizations and volunteer whenever they get the chance.
Nathan’s story is a perfect example of what can happen when you decide to follow your passion. This requires hard work and dedication, but in the end, can lead to a rewarding career.
NASCAR Technical Institute is the only technician training school that combines a complete automotive technology program with NASCAR-specific training. To learn more, visit our school page and
request information today.
Learn how a group of UTI instructors stepped up to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.
NASCAR Tech grad Hank Fowler is part of a team making PPE for healthcare workers at NASCAR’s R&D center. Read about it here.
Dustin Desautell is one of the youngest engine builders on the Roush Yates Engines team. He's also a NASCAR Tech grad. Here's his story.
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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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