You’re a gearhead or another type of automotive enthusiast. You’d like a job, and possibly a career, in an automotive or similar field. Those jobs are out there, offer a good income, and can feed your passion for spending time around interesting machinery. Getting into those jobs can be complicated, especially if you lack much experience in the trade. There’s always the proverbial story of the guys that started out in shops sweeping floors and slowly worked their way into getting their hands on the real work of building or repairing vehicles.
Universal Technical Institute (UTI) was founded in 1965, and now offers training in 13 locations across the country. The school offers automotive, diesel, collision, motorcycle, marine, CNC machining, and welding training. This option of continued education beyond high school can fast-track you along a career path in one of those fields.
In a time in our nation’s history when many jobs are outsourced or automated, it’s reassuring to know that the jobs filled by UTI graduates aren’t typically the type that can be performed from a remote location or by machine. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, there are unfilled jobs for technicians in the transportation industry. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates average continued job growth in these areas, with no estimated decline, out to the bureau’s latest projection to 2026.
We had the opportunity to tour the Avondale, Arizona, campus and meet with Patrick Bennett, Director of Operations. He shared with us that the goal of UTI is to impart to students not only the work skills but also the behaviors, to prepare them to be prime job candidates upon graduation. UTI has graduated in excess of 200,000 students since its inception, preparing each to become an entry-level technician.
Many programs can be completed in less than a year, and core programs start every three to six weeks. The staff works continually to identify new technologies coming into the market that can offer solid job opportunities to students, and revises their courses to incorporate these changes. Besides the technical training, the school strives to instill a successful work culture in their students. Each student wears a logoed shirt and name badge when on campus. It’s one of the ways UTI begins to ingrain a work ethic and presentation into students to prepare them for the work environment.
During our visit, we saw a comprehensive set of support programs at the campus. Student services include housing assistance, financial aid, part-time student employment for those wanting to work while attending school, veteran support, and post-graduate job placement. This includes resume writing support, a job database, career counseling, and interview training. Once students graduate, they also have access to UTI job placement services for life and can return any time to repeat any class free of charge.
Each UTI school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Each student graduates with either a diploma or an Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) degree, depending on the program and campus.
UTI wants to offer courses that match well with industry needs. Bennett explained how the school offers specialized training programs with industry partners. In this way students can take additional training related to a specific manufacturer in preparation of pairing up employment with a facility in their dealer network.
We spoke with two students about their decision to attend UTI, and both stressed their interest in being able to acquire marketable job skills in a relatively short period of time. Either the diesel or welding course can be completed in less than one year.
This past year, UTI started a program to give high school students a taste of the curriculum. Over the summer, interested students heading into senior year could take two three-week classes free of charge to try out the institute.
Choosing a quality school with highly rated instructors is important, and UTI appears to fill that bill. The cost of proper education can be expensive, so once you’ve made the decision to move forward, how can you be assured your getting good value for your dollars?
We queried Bennett, asking him what actions a student could personally take to maximize success in launching into his or her chosen job field. He started with the basics: work hard. Then he mentioned what he called developing uphill goals and habits to improve your overall value to an employer. He said invest in yourself, partner with the school staff, and use all UTI resources available to you. Sounds like solid advice.