TSTC Automotive Technology alumnus Samuel Gonzales adds antifreeze to a 2024 Toyota Camry as part of his job at Toyota of Pharr.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Sometimes it takes a while for someone to realize that a job is just not for them.

For six years Samuel Gonzales worked as a medical phlebotomist but was not especially happy. Then one day he had an “aha!” moment and decided to pursue an automotive education at Texas State Technical College.

Gonzales graduated with a certificate of completion in Automotive Technician from TSTC’s Harlingen campus in 2022. One week later he began a new career at Toyota of Pharr, which changed his life.

“I’m an advanced express technician,” he said. “I wake up and love to come to work. I experience a new challenge with every automobile that I work on.”

The Weslaco resident said he could not ask for a better working culture than the one at the dealership.

“You’re here to get dirty and put in the work as a technician,” he said. “My goal is to become a master technician.”

Juan Cortina is a service manager at Toyota of Pharr.

“Samuel was eager to learn from our master technicians after he was hired,” he said. “That’s made him a team player, and his confidence has grown.”

Gonzales was first introduced to automotive engine repair when he was 8 years old.

“My father and grandfather definitely played a huge role in that,” he said. “When our family’s car engines needed to be fixed, me and my two brothers were called to help. Years later I gravitated to automobiles more because my friends liked sports cars.”

Gonzales credits his career success to his training at TSTC.

“I enjoyed that the classroom was an automotive shop and not a traditional classroom,” he said. “The skills that I learned at TSTC, I do in my job.”

Miguel Zoleta is TSTC’s Automotive Technology program director.

“Samuel’s potential to learn about the automotive industry was outstanding,” he said. “His ability to understand how many automotive components worked led to his success.”

The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number was forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $44,810.

In Automotive Technology, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and several certificates of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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