(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Jose Villarreal, of Pharr, became interested in automotive vehicles at the age of 7 when he assisted his grandfather in the family’s garage.
That mechanical knowledge intrigued him and became a deciding factor that led him to enroll at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Harlingen.
He is now pursuing a certificate of completion in Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair in TSTC’s Automotive Technology program.
How did you become interested in automotive technology?
My grandfather used to fix transmissions, motors, brakes, and (do) other tasks until 2 a.m. when I was young. When I was 14, he asked if I wanted to try, and I agreed. I changed brakes and worked oil changes. In recent years, I did not have luck finding a job due to not having automotive background experience. Now (my interest in automotive technology) is a driving force, and I try to make the experience enjoyable so I will have a career to look forward to.
How has the program enhanced your automotive knowledge?
My favorite lesson in this first semester has been learning how to do an alignment. I did not have prior experience in this area. Our instructor, (Miguel) Zoleta, explained the process and what the components do using a chart. Then we proceeded with the hands-on part. We moved a vehicle to the lift, raised it, and inputted the VIN (vehicle identification number) into a computer. The system provides a detailed specification of what needs to be fixed to complete the process. I enjoyed learning it.
What do you enjoy about the program?
Based on what I have learned in the program, I remember what I did wrong in past jobs, and now I understand how to correct it. It is better to make the mistakes here instead of on the job.
What are your plans after graduation?
My top priority is to gain on-the-job experience after I earn my certificate. I want to move up the ladder to become a better technician, and possibly a master technician. As long as a company notices my potential, I am ready to work.
According to onetonline.org, Texas has more than 60,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed around the state, and that number is expected to reach 65,000 by 2028. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $45,520.
In addition to the certificate of completion in Automotive Maintenance and Light Repair, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology and an Automotive Technician certificate of completion. The program has other certificates that are available, including Chrysler Specialization, Tesla START Technician and Toyota T-TEN Specialization, and a Basic Automotive occupational skills award, depending on the campus location.
Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.