Interstates and highways are busier compared to a year ago, and that means maintenance on vehicles will increase.
Texas State Technical College helps automotive shops around the state fill the need for service technicians. According to onetonline.org, 60,440 technicians were employed in Texas in 2018. The need is forecast to increase 8% by 2028 to more than 65,000 technicians.
“We are currently seeing a high demand for automotive technicians in the Valley,” said Miguel Zoleta, the Automotive Technology lead instructor at TSTC’s Harlingen campus. “Previously, the dealerships would call and ask if we had any graduates interested in working with them. Every dealership that calls now asks for two or more students because of the amount of openings they have.”
TSTC offers Automotive Technology at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Graduates can find job opportunities in all regions of Texas.
Many students plan to stay close to home, whereas others hope to expand their knowledge while working.
Tanner Tankersley, a TSTC student in Sweetwater, hopes to become Automotive Service Excellence-certified. According to the ASE website, more than 250,000 people have been certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
“If I am able to receive that certification, I will be able to one day open my own performance-based auto shop,” he said.
Students have taken what they have learned in class and applied it at home and work.
“Almost every day at work, someone comes in with a problem, and I can help them with the right solution,” said Noe Ramos, a TSTC student in Harlingen who works for AutoZone. “It is amazing that I am able to help my customers by telling them what is wrong with their vehicle.”
Instructors have talked to students about the need for technicians and how well the job can pay. According to onetonline.org, the average annual salary for a technician in Texas is $45,520.
To help prepare students for a job, TSTC has fully-equipped automotive shops in which to train them.
“We are covering everything that is important to know when we are in the shop. That has been helpful for all of us,” said Joseph Fredericks, a TSTC student in Sweetwater. “The hands-on approach is the best way to teach a program like this. Shop time is the best time for me.”
Zoleta said a trend has developed in the Valley region. It is a trend he hopes continues for many years.
“We try to send students to each dealership, but we are facing obstacles where we are seeing there is more demand than students graduating,” he said. “We cannot graduate the students fast enough.”
TSTC has several options for students interested in Automotive Technology, including an Associate of Applied Science degree. Certificates of completion are available for Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, and Automotive Technician.
For students who seek specialized training at the Waco campus, TSTC offers certificates of completion in Toyota T-TEN Specialization and Chrysler Specialization, and an advanced technical certificate as a TESLA Start Technician.
For someone looking to get into the workforce quicker, a Basic Automotive Occupational Skills Award may be completed in four months in Waco.
Registration for the fall semester is underway. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit tstc.edu.