(SWEETWATER, Texas) – There is a growing need for qualified automotive technicians in Texas.
Many dealerships and automotive repair shops turn to Texas State Technical College’s Automotive Technology graduates to fill the need for mechanics. According to onetonline.org, Texas has more than 60,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed around the state, and that number is forecast to top 65,000 by 2028.
“Qualified mechanics are needed just as much as nurses right now,” said Gerod Strother, an Automotive Technology instructor at TSTC’s Sweetwater campus. “Across the country, I read recently that between 80,000 and 100,000 dealerships and shops are looking for qualified mechanics.”
Strother said a majority of TSTC’s recent graduates have found employment in the area, including two working at a dealership in Snyder.
“We have a few working around the area,” Strother said. “I know they are making good money and have all of the tools they need to succeed.”
The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $45,520, according to onetonline.org. The salaries vary by region across the state. According to the website, the average salary in the Abilene region is $42,530, while in San Angelo it is $50,730.
To help current students see what is available, TSTC hosts representatives from area dealerships. Employees from Stanley Ford in Sweetwater visit the campus each semester to talk to students about the industry.
Strother also plans to continue visiting the Blake Fulenwider dealership in Snyder with students this semester.
“It was a great success when we visited the dealership a year ago,” he said. “The students are able to get a lot of information when they see the shop, and also when veteran mechanics visit our shop to talk to them about the latest trends.”
William Parker, who is also an instructor at the Sweetwater campus, has a background working for a car dealership. He was a certified mechanic at a dealership in Snyder before beginning his instructional career.
“If our students gain the master-certified status, they are going to find employment at any dealership,” Parker said. “The main thing dealerships are looking for is a person’s skill set.”
Strother said there is one advantage to working at a dealership.
“If you work at a dealership, you can go to their school and be certified on that make of vehicle,” he said. “That is something we tell all of our students, and then it is reinforced with our company-partner visits.”
Parker hopes the trend of more graduates becoming master-certified mechanics continues.
“According to information I saw recently, the average age of master-certified mechanics is between 45 and 50,” he said. “We need more people to look at becoming certified so people can rely on mechanics.”
Strother said he was pleased to see more interest in the program over the past year.
“We have tripled our enrollment over the past year, which shows more people are showing interest in this industry,” he said. “I hope that trend continues because we need master-certified mechanics in our shops.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses. Several other certificates, including Chrysler Specialization, Tesla START Technician and Toyota T-TEN Specialization — and a Basic Automotive occupational skills award — are also available, depending on campus location.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.