The Pros and Cons Automotive Tech School ~ Podcast Episode 18

The Pros and Cons Automotive Tech School ~ Podcast Episode 18


hey everybody Charles from humble mechanic calm and as you can see you guys got me on the road today I am headed out to Charlotte to do some videos with Paul and the boys from Deutsche auto parts it’s about a two and a half hour drive for me so I figured it was a good opportunity to throw the GoPro on the windshield of the Passat and and chat with you guys for a little while today we’re gonna talk a bit about some of the pros and cons of going to tech school I come from a background of UTI as a tech school Universal Technical Institute sure you guys have heard me mention that before there’s a slew of other type tech schools you know community colleges regular colleges place like WyoTech and a lincoln tech they all have pros and cons they’re all very very similar so I’m gonna sort of lump them all together today and talk about the the idea of tech school as a whole some of the good some of the bad some of the stigma that comes around when you when you start talking about tech schools but you know the the background I have like I said comes from me going to UTI I went to the campus in Glendale Heights Illinois I think they’ve since moved but I went to the campus in Illinois and that was in I think 2002 at the time I was a little bit older than everybody not not too much I think I was 22 or 23 when I went I had worked a whole slew of other jobs and done a bunch of stuff it wasn’t like I right out of high school deal for me like it is for a lot of people so the experience for me was really positive a lot of that was because I could see the end goal when I was done with school I knew I knew what I was gonna wind up doing not specifically where or exactly how it would look but you know I had I had an idea of what what I wanted to do with myself when when it was all said and done so I was able to treat it like basically like a full-time job you know I went to school for him I think oh hey I don’t know seven to two I guess and then and then worked full-time as well from you know three or four to ten or whatever it was and so that was it was a year that went by really really fast but you know I I tried to capitalize on every minute that I was in the building every everything I could learn I learned you know absorbed as much as I could it was really the only time in my life I’ve ever actually been a good at student I was a terrible student in in high school and really all of my school career but again I think a lot of that came from being able to see the end goal and do the work that it took to be successful there so let’s kind of move into to the pros of going to tech school you know while we’re talking about the pros don’t think that it’s all hearts and flowers and roses kind of on the flip side while we’re talking about the cons don’t think it’s all a negative you know a negative thing or that I’m bashing tech schools because they really do have their place so I guess like the big thing that stands out in my mind when I when I look back at tech schools or when I see Universal Tech post things online is that they really do have a high level of state-of-the-art equipment I remember working with you know the newest alignment racks the newest snap-on scanned tools we had a lot of older stuff as well but I do remember having a high level of diagnostic equipment and training equipment and that was at a facility that had been there for a lot of years so I can only imagine what some of the newer campuses are and what they look like now there’s this idea that you’re gonna come out of UTI and you’re gonna know everything and how to fix cars you know seven ways to Sunday but UTI is really built on learning the basics and if you know nothing about cars you can sort of go in there with you know a clean slate so to say and really learn and understand the basics of each individual system on a vehicle how it works how they interact with each other you kind of learn generic stuff that that applies to the automotive field not just brand specific like you know Volkswagen or Ford or whatever so it sort of gives you a great foundation of the automotive industry and how to fix cars another thing that I didn’t really realize at the time but I’ve since come to really appreciate was that you’re not learning on a customer car not to say that you want to have the intent of breaking something while you’re learning at a tech school but to not have a customer yelling and screaming that they’re tired of waiting for the car to get fixed or you know have to worry about breaking a trim clip on a customer’s car especially in your early days of learning how to fix cars is a huge huge huge advantage you know taking proper care of a customer’s car is really like job one as a technician in the field and to be able to sort of set that aside and really focus on learning what you’re doing learning systems learning and understanding how they all interact with each other while not have to worry about breaking something on a customer’s car you know is a huge huge huge advantage we spend 10 20 30 40 50 and up thousand dollars on a car and you know I wouldn’t I know I don’t think I would want anybody learning how to fix cars on my personal car so so that’s a huge advantage advantage to to attending a tech school and again this could be Universal tech it could be a community college program whatever whatever whatever type of program we’re talking about that’s that’s incredibly important a lot of people seen it as a disadvantage I thought it was a huge advantage and that was the length of the program when I went to UTI I went to a one-year program start to finish was almost exactly one year there were add-on programs that that you could do you know in an elective fashion but the base automotive program was one year doing diesel and industrial stuff obviously tacked on time but you know to be in and out of a training program for a year is as quick think about spending four or five years at a traditional University and you know we kind of jam-packed that all in in in a year and you’re after a year you’re out in the field hopefully you’re out in the field working while you’re at school but uh you know worst case after your years done you’re you’re out in the field and ready to go a lot of these schools offer placement assistance if you find yourself coming to the end of your your time there at the school you know they have job boards and companies that they work with to try and get students jobs and that’s an ongoing thing that’s not just like after you graduate you have a month to find a job and then you’re on your own even today if I needed help getting a job I could call the folks at the placement department at UTI and and get some assistance I don’t know that that’s something I would do but it’s an option and and definitely an advantage of attending a school like that well it’s a good marketing tool if you do it right we’ll talk about in the in a minute some of the negative stuff about about these schools and how it could actually be a negative marketing tool but if you do it right it’s definitely a positive thing and you know it shows to me as a potential employer it shows a commitment that you’re serious about about doing this as a job not not just rolling in trying to get a job changing oil with with basically no investment of your own time and your own money attending one of these tech schools is not cheap and you know both in in dollars and in time and to have someone commit a year their life and you know however many tens of thousands of dollars that it costs today is is big and it’s important it’s important to me as an employer that you know might hire you that that you’ve committed a little bit on your own before you ever step foot in my door for for a job interview so you get to you know you really do get to learn a lot of basics like I said it could be some cool opportunities to make connections in the industry I remember we had a lot of fender days and you know beyond just job fairs I actually had the opportunity to attend a job fair at NASCAR Tech in Mooresville which is just outside of Charlotte North Carolina as as the technician I think it was last fall or something or could have been earlier this year I don’t know I’m terrible at time-space but you know it’s really cool to see some of these young guys and girls kind of in the in the early stages of their career whether they were you know just started at UTI or we’re finishing up at UTI it’s it’s neat to see that looking back on it you know remembering how I felt and how weird of an experience it was for me at at that point in my life but um you know that overall I think tech schools are a good investment for the right person it’s just like anything you know when when someone asked me should they go to tech school I don’t know ya know the answer to a most good questions is you know it depends do you want to invest that much time and money into into going to tech school or do you want to just jump right in going to tech school doesn’t mean you’re going to be an incredible technician but it’s you know it’s one of those big life choices so so make the choice wisely but like I said overall I think for me anyway tech school was a really really really good experience I learned a ton obviously I wouldn’t be where I am today without sort of that you know getting my foot in the door and learning the basics and you know having that support team behind me to help me out when I needed it so definitely some huge huge huge advantages of going to tech school over just jumping right in a lot of tech schools offer discounts on you know high level tools like with snap-on or Matco depending on where you where you attend so that’s another huge advantage I really wish I could have capitalized on 50% off on some of those tools that I that that I have since had to buy but you know when you’re in college sore tech schools that are saying you’re broke it’s hard too hard to afford those things that that you need so so you know whatever I’ve since made up for it and buying tools I suppose so let’s talk a little bit about some of the negatives of these type of schools and like I said you know it’s definitely not all hearts and flowers and roses I would say one of the biggest negatives in my mind there’s two that really stand out and far and away number one is the cost it’s expensive I want to say now to attend the automotive program at UTI teeters on $30,000 and that’s just for the program that doesn’t include you know interest on student loans or housing or any of the other add on type stuff that that you’re gonna have to pay for especially if you don’t have a campus local to you and you have to relocate for that year I was really fortunate that I lived I think 20 miles from the campus in Illinois so you know while it was a little bit of a drive in the morning it was definitely something that was totally doable and thank goodness I didn’t have to relocate and live in a scummy apartment for a year while I while I attended school so cost is huge you know paying student loans sucks no matter no matter whether you’re going to a regular University or or a vocational school like that a tech school for any you know any field paying that stuff back really sucks so not only that is you’ve just spent $30,000 on training and you don’t have any tools to show for it you know you still have to walk in the door day one and and have a certain amount of tools in order to do your job you know you guys know we don’t we don’t get paid if we don’t have tools because if we don’t have tools we’re not turning wrenches on cars you know it’s hard to turn a wrench when you don’t own one so you know that’s that’s probably the biggest negative I would say the other really big negative is these type of schools have a reputation I think for turning out either a very very very high level product or turning out a very low level product and I’ve seen both of them I’ve seen guys that you know went to UT I maybe didn’t know anything or didn’t know a ton about cars but we ramped up ready to learn you know wanted to go in and kick butt understood the commitment that they’ve had just made and just crushed it through the whole time in school and are now very very successful technicians I like to think of myself as one of them you know I wasn’t a car expert when I went to eti so you know I like to think of myself as in that kind of realm some might debate my success but whatever and I’ve also seen a lot of guys that were you know car enthusiasts and they were they were excited but they either you know didn’t want to do the work that that it really does take to be successful there or thought they knew it all that’s really the big one as I thought they knew more than the instructors and you know skated through the schooling with mediocre grades and then when they got into you know a shop environment couldn’t fix a sandwich so I’ve seen kind of both acts ends of the spectrum on that and you know the high level product is definitely a more rare case than the mid to low level product obviously but you know it all depends on the person it all depends on who they are as an individual how much work they did while they were there and whether the individual capitalized on the opportunity you know we can’t blame the school for turning out a bad product when the bad product was a knucklehead you know to begin with that being said there was a fair amount of knuckleheads at that school that I went to I remember you know guys just having a good old time during class and that’s fine but you know when it comes down to it this is the start of your career so I didn’t understand much like I don’t understand a lot of things with the way people behave why you would spend all that money and and really squander an opportunity to get a good job in a good field and and just basically piss your time away that I thought was very stupid and irresponsible but again if you’re the person that’s gonna capitalize on it that’s not really a problem for you I don’t really care what the guy next to me is doing as long as it’s not affecting me and how I’m you know able to learn and able to work so you know the the there’s another one that’s kind of good and bad depending on how you look at it it’s hard work I remember doing you know the I guess that’s the 6-2 to whatever the hours were coming home working and then having to study for an hour to the night and that’s I probably did more studying in that year than I did my entire scholastic career up until that point I know I did more homework because I don’t ever remember doing homework as a as a student in public school so the hard work is good or bad depending on the individual the I think a lot of guys going in have this idea that they’re gonna attend this school and they’re gonna come out and they’re gonna be able to fix every problem and you know you’ve kind of been stroked a little bit and told that you’re gonna come out at the top of the chart so to say you’re gonna be this incredible technician and you’re gonna make all this money and and that’s true a lot of guys make a ton of money after coming out of UTI but I’ll promise you that it’s probably not year 1 year 2 year 3 it took me it took me about three years I think to really get my feet under me and and figure out you know exactly what I was doing maybe two years maybe three was a little bit long I think by year three I was I was kind of all in it but it’s not gonna happen day one you’re gonna get into the dealership or the shop and you’re gonna have this confidence level and then the real world sort of hits you and you realize that you don’t know all the stuff that you thought you knew and my favorite to do to guys coming out a UTI or you know specifically the Volkswagen program because you learn vendor specific things was to hand them a check engine light and a scan tool and tell them to diagnose it and you know you get that deer in the headlights look from him like I don’t know what to do well you just spent you know you’re doing it but you know there is really zero replacement for real-world experience when it comes to when it comes to fixing cars or you know most any career we really need to think of tech schools as a foundation it’s building a foundation for your career it’s the it’s the very beginning of it again you’re not going to come out a master technician but you’re gonna come out with a good foundation and hopefully you’ve worked your butt off and learned a lot like I said there is a little bit of a stigma about guys I use UTI as an example I went there so I feel like I can razz them a little bit that guys coming out of UTI you know for the most part aren’t worth a darn and can’t fix cars and I don’t know that that’s totally true there’s there is truth to it but you know you got to remember just because you went to tech school doesn’t mean you’re gonna come out with with an ace level of fixing cars so you know there’s like I said there’s pros and cons if tech school was perfect and the right choice for everybody a whole lot more people would be going there’d be a lot more of them luckily we’re at a time where good technicians are in high demand I mean we spent almost a year trying to find a good technician and personally I like hiring guys out of school I think they’re easier to mold and teach teach the way I want things done guys that come in with experience especially guys that come in with experience in my personal case not Volkswagen carry a lot of anti German car baggage and I don’t like that I know it’s easy to get negative on a brand especially a German car brand but you know you if you get sucked into that negative negative attitude it it really does making make fixing these cars a lot harder so personally I like hiring guys that a UTI I think I think they’re a little bit more year to learn they don’t know it all and if they think they do that’s a that’s a problem that’s very easily correctable very very fast so you know again my personal experience was very positive I think one Pro that I forgot to mention and it’s it’s probably because I’ve been detached from the situation for so long I mean hell that was 10 11 12 Jesus 12 years ago that that I was attending UTI is they do have really cool interesting programs from certain manufacturers I know of Volkswagens canceled their program with UTI but there’s a lot of other vendors I think Mercedes still has theirs where you go to UTI for the year you know you have to meet a certain criteria whether it be grades attendance job experience all the above type thing but after you’re finished with the program then you go into manufacturer-specific training and you’ll spend I don’t know two months say training with with Mercedes or Ford Nissan Toyota I think has one I don’t really remember all of them with UTI now but then you learn those specific cars and that’s really where the work you put in a UTI is gonna pay off because you don’t have to relearn you know how an air conditioning system works or what an oxygen sensor does now you can take a step back from knowing the basics and focus specifically on how that brand does things how Mercedes does things and a lot of times those programs are free or paid for by the dealership that hires you so personally I think if you go to an automotive training school and they have that program and you don’t already know what you’re gonna do when you’re done to not take advantage of that it’s kind of dumb I think Volkswagen paid back like 7 grand worth of my student loans I got a bunch of free tools you know the dealership paid for the training so I didn’t have to worry about you know another like $8,000 worth of worth of training so it was who’s definitely definitely worth taking advantage of so anyway guys I’m gonna wrap up there if I miss something pro or con throw it down in the comments below if if you have any questions specifically about going to a tech school I’d love to hear them post that in the comments too if you’re gonna ask me whether you should go or shouldn’t go I’m gonna tell you I don’t know and I’m gonna tell you that’s a decision that you need to make for yourself all’s I can really do is share my thoughts and share my experiences I know there’s guys that have a very negative negative opinion of the schools and you know you have to temper their negativity with their level of success in it and that’s really up to up to you to decide I can’t make that determination for you so but anyway if you liked the show throw it a thumbs up I’d really appreciate that you can always share it too that’s all true cool if you know somebody that’s thinking about attending these schools or heck is in the middle of it now you know this might be a little bit of kick in the pants that they that they need to to to kind of get their head on straight again and get get their button here but anyway thanks for watching don’t forget to subscribe on youtube I’d be foolish to not say that you can also follow me on all the major social networking dealios that are currently around this is this show will probably drop on November 26 tomorrow’s Thanksgiving so Happy Thanksgiving if you’re watching this on Wednesday and yeah oh yeah so sometimes while I’m driving my brain just stops social networks Facebook YouTube if you’re not watching it on YouTube already Twitter Instagram are pretty much the ones I hang out on most of the time and you can just search humble mechanic or add humble mechanic or facebook.com slash humble mechanic I think you guys got it by now anyway this has been Charles for humble and kanuk calm thanks for watching and I will see you guys next time


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