This article is part of an ongoing series to highlight and promote the technician career — demonstrating to kids, parents, and teachers how becoming a technician is a rewarding career path that can be lucrative and open the door to many opportunities within the industry. Are you a technician who would like to be spotlighted? Sign up!
Technician Spotlight: Quentin L.
Name: Quentin L.
Location: Odessa, Texas
Job Title: Service Technician
Industry Experience: 25 years
How did you get started in the automotive industry?
When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a full service mechanic shop/gas station, and I grew up working there. All of my family has grown up around it, but I am the only one who has made a career out of it. I never planned on automotive being a career for me. I worked in it because I enjoyed it, and I liked helping out my grandparents. When I was putting myself through college, I was working at automotive shops and I decided to continue because I really enjoy what I do. My first job was vacuuming cars, washing windows, checking tires, and filling gas tanks when I was a kid. From there, I went to work at a quick lube doing oil changes and basic maintenance. Then, I went on to work in a tire shop, and managed that for five years. I had a friend who worked at a dealership, and he asked me to come in for an interview. I got the position, and I’ve been at the dealership ever since.
What is your favorite part of being a technician?
Being able to figure out what went wrong, what caused it, and then fixing the problem to help people get back on the road. I also really like the opportunity to train other technicians. We recently started a training program at my shop where we take new technicians and train them with senior technicians. They work with them until we feel they know the skills well enough, and are ready to be on their own. In an effort to keep more people working at our shop and being able to help our customers better, the senior technicians in the shop thought this mentorship program would really add benefits. This has ended up working out great because we are able to service more vehicles, and keep well-trained technicians in the shop. Overall, these technicians have become better technicians because of it.
What would you say to someone who is trying to decide if this is a career they want to consider?
They’re only going to know for sure if this is a good career choice by trying it out. You can read all about it, and talk to as many people as you want, but until you’ve actually experienced it, you’re not going to know for sure if it’s something you’re going to want to do. It takes time to learn the skills, and takes money to invest in the tools. Between the two, if you’re not sure, you could waste a lot of time and money.
What do you wish more people, especially high schools, knew about the profession?
They need to know it is an available option, and it pays well if you find the right place to work. If you’re good at what you do, you can make a really good living out of it. I think most high schools are focused on getting you into a four-year college, and the kids that don’t want to go to college don’t know there is something else out there they can do.
If you knew a kid that wanted to go into the industry but his parents or teachers were telling them to go into a four-year college, what would you tell the parents?
It needs to be up to the kid and what they want to do. They are the ones who are going to have to spend their time doing it. If a kid wanted to try out a four-year school and do this on the side as a way to pay for school, they could explore both options at the same time. Also, get them into a mentorship program because there are some kids who think this is a great idea, get into it, and don’t really like it. It might not be everything they thought it was going to be. I work with quite a few people in the shop who went to a four-year college and decided they liked working in the automotive industry better.
What advice would you give to someone to be successful in this industry?
Take the time to train with somebody who has experience and knows what they are doing. Second, be honest with your customers and people you deal with. If you plan on doing this for a long time, you build a base of repeat customers. They know you’re going to do the work right the first time, and you’re going to be honest with them. If you’re looking for a quick way to make a buck — short-cutting things and not being honest with them — word gets out pretty quickly, and you can ruin your reputation and the shop’s reputation.
Any final thoughts?
If you’re not happy where you’re at, there are a lot of other places you can go that will value your skills and have a good culture where you can make a decent living. A good shop will allow you to have time for family and hobbies. Don’t settle for a shop that doesn’t treat you right or appreciate you.