(WACO, Texas) – Travis Hanson, of Mabank, stood alone as he slowly mixed paint during the Color Analysis and Paint Matching class at Texas State Technical College. Afterward, he put on gray overalls, placed personal protective equipment on his face and ventured inside a booth to practice painting.
“If you really want to do it, just do it and have patience,” he said.
Hanson is a fall candidate for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Refinishing Specialization and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Repair Specialization at TSTC.
Hanson said doing collision work is interesting because every vehicle has its share of different problems. He also said collision work means making good money.
“I like working on cars, but (I do) not like being a mechanic,” Hanson said.
Hanson began working part time as a painter more than a month ago at Slaton Paint and Body in Athens, Texas. He will begin working full time after graduation. He said his goal is to stay in the Mabank area to work and it feels good already having a job before he graduates.
Maxie Fowler, lead instructor in TSTC’s Auto Collision and Management Technology program, said paint and body shops continue to call seeking graduates to fill jobs. He said the job market is great for graduates.
“If they get their foot in the door, they can work into what they want to do,” Fowler said.
Angel Escamilla, of Mexia, has worked part time in the last year in the body shop at Mike Terry Chevrolet Buick GMC in Mexia. He balances his job as he works toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Repair Specialization and a certificate of completion in Auto Collision Refinishing at TSTC. Escamilla is a candidate for graduation in December.
Escamilla will move up to full-time work after graduating this semester. He said he is glad he did not have to relocate to work.
“I’ve always been interested in cars and working on them,” he said.
Escamilla said students entering the program should have an interest in vehicles, be confident and not be afraid. He said students can be successful in the profession when they follow instructions and use the right techniques to make repairs.
Automotive body and related repairers in Texas can make a yearly median salary of more than $43,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website. More than 13,000 workers will be needed by 2028, according to the website.
TSTC’s Fall 2021 Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at The BASE at the Extraco Events Center in Waco.
Registration continues for the spring semester. For more information, go to tstc.edu.