(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Life could not be better for Texas State Technical College Automotive Technology graduate Thomas Rivera, who recently accepted a full-time job as an automotive technician with Valley Metro at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council’s Transit Center in Weslaco.
Rivera, who recently received his Associate of Applied Science degree from TSTC, began his job in November.
“I introduced myself to the director of transit operations for the LRGVDC,” he said. “His team made me feel like I was part of a family.”
Eddie Lopez is a diesel mechanic technician for the LRGVDC.
“Thomas knows how to diagnose the troubleshooting on our buses and other tasks that we assign,” he said. “He has the knowledge to work on a variety of automobiles that we have here.”
Rivera became interested in the automotive industry at an early age.
“I used to have a John Deere battery-operated toy jeep when I was young,” he said. “I placed wooden planks underneath it in the backyard and pretended that I was a mechanic.”
An online search led Rivera to TSTC.
“I learned that TSTC’s Automotive Technology program is one of the best programs in Texas,” he said. “That motivated me to enroll.”
Rivera said TSTC prepared him well for his job.
“I’m pleased with the knowledge that I gained after two years,” he said. “The instructors take time to make sure the students understand the coursework. What I enjoyed was the camaraderie in the program. That experience made me feel that I worked in an automotive shop.”
Miguel Zoleta, TSTC’s Automotive Technology program director in Harlingen, said Rivera is dedicated and passionate about his automotive career.
“Thomas began to look for a full-time job when he knew graduation was approaching,” he said. “His dependability is a great asset, and he achieves any goal that he sets his mind to.”
Rivera said his immediate goal is to gain more on-the-job knowledge.
“I plan to learn more about the company buses and diesel technology so I can expand my expertise,” he said.
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.
Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.