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Heading out into the field as a technician after graduation from mechanic school is exciting. If you want a successful, lifetime career doing what you love, here's advice from nine industry professionals about how to grow your career.
Anyone can learn skills, but when you have ambition to grow every day, that stands out in the field, says Kyle Mixon, service director of Munday Chevrolet.
“You have to show drive,” Mixon says. “You have to show that you want to be here, that you want to learn, that you want to be successful.”
If you have a passion for a certain brand, the more mechanic training you can get with it, the better. Programs like Universal Technical Institute's (UTI) Manufacturer Specific Advanced Training programs and Motorcycle Mechanics Institute's (MMI) specialized training
give you a head-start in the field, says Seminole PowerSports operations manager Greg Hale.
“We are always looking for people with good, strong work ethics,” Hale says. “A lot of students come to us with the manufacturer schooling already behind them for the specific product line, Kawasaki or Honda, and that is a huge advantage for us, knowing those are the products we deal with.”
Though the technician industry is in high demand, once you're a part of the community, it's a tight-knit world. That's why how you carry yourself in the field is vital to where you'll go in your career.
“When I interview a technician from UTI...the main thing I'm focused on looking for is attitude,” says Ken Harland, UTI graduate and shop foreman for Mercedes-Benz of Sacramento. “I can't fix
attitude. I can't change attitude. It has to be something you have...The automotive business is a small world... Someone you know in school, you're going to know later on. You're going to come back across them, so make sure your attitude is on par.”
Learning doesn't stop after graduation. Come into work ready to keep on expanding your skillset with on-the-job training.
“Really what I'm looking for are two key qualities,” says David Hart, training technology/curriculum team leader for Mercury Marine within Walt Disney World.
“First is a work ethic. Really, knowledge and gaining technical skills is a different area from a foundation that is critical to being successful, and that's a work ethic. The second is a willingness to learn...For those first couple years,
we're really looking for somebody who's willing to be taught and be coached and really apply themselves to learning and listening more so than proving and trying to stand on their own initially.”
An in-demand industry means you'll likely be called upon to do work that you may not be an expert at – yet. Take what comes at you with an eager outlook, and you'll be more likely to succeed, says David Galloway, service manager of Florida Detroit Diesel-Allison.
“Our industry is so short-staffed right now, it's unbelievable,” Galloway says. “You can tell that by the average wait time to have repairs done in any shop in the country is days, not hours. Your willingness to do the job, taking on
the job when you don't know [is important]. Take it on, and try and do it, and ask questions along the way. Retain the knowledge and what you learn through the process to help you on the next job you do.”
Entering the field means you have the opportunity to learn from those who came before you. Respect senior technicians, and soak up what they teach you.
“Some of the qualities we look for in the NASCAR Tech students is attendance, personal drive and if the student isn't willing to pay their dues in Express, so to speak, then they
may not be driven enough to succeed in the main shop,” says Michael Gobble, service manager for Gerry Wood Chrysler Jeep Dodge. “We have a lot of processes in place to evaluate them during
their part-time apprenticeship.”
Being a technician is about more than just a paycheck. When you have energy and excitement that motivates you every day at work, management notices.
“When I talk to students on campus, oftentimes one of the first questions I ask them is, 'Why did you want to be a technician? Why did you want to make this your career?'” says John Perez, senior director of talent acquisition for Sonic Automotive.
“If I see them light up while they're describing that to me, then I know that's somebody I want to talk to further...It's the intangibles and the smaller talents of being a good teammate, understanding their importance in the dealership, and
having a passion for what they do that is most important to us.”
Cars are some of people's most precious possessions. That's why hiring techs who have the skills and tender loving care to get them back into top shape is vital.
“As far as looking for a good quality technician to join my team, I'm always looking for the care and concern for what they do,” says Rod White, locations manager for Cooks Collision. “Having
someone with integrity who is going to take care of all aspects of the repair and somebody I can trust will do what's needed is very valuable to me...When you give us everything you have and show us you want to be the person to excel in every aspect
of your job, we're going to give you everything you need to succeed.”
For many hiring managers, showing up to school is a great indicator that a future technician will be reliable for work, too.
“The advice I would give to a technician that is just starting school is to maintain the positive attendance and maintain that your grades are good,” says Terry Hartigan, service manager of CIT Trucks.
“We're really looking for the best of the best and those who will show up to school, because if you don't show up to school, you're not going to show up to work. That's what I look for.”
All the hiring managers we've talked to agree that an education from UTI, MMI,
NASCAR Technical Institute or Marine Mechanics Institute is a guaranteed way to stand out on a résumé.
Learn more about each school by clicking the links.
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.
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.