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Need for auto techs spurs new Butte college course for high school seniors

Posted at 2:15 PM, Jan 04, 2024

BUTTE — The automotive industry is in desperate need of auto technicians to work on vehicles, so Highlands College in Butte has started an accelerated program to get high school seniors early training so they can get a head start in the auto repair business.

“Our industry, the automotive industry, we are short of technicians across the nation and I get calls every week—Bozeman, Helena, you name it. Butte, everybody’s calling us wanting technicians,” said Highlands College Automotive Instructor Jerry Stewart.

High school students across the state can enroll in an online class hosted by the Highlands College instructors to get the first year of the two-year course completed to get certified as an auto technician. Instructors claim there’s a big need for people trained to work on vehicles.

“More cars, everybody’s got two or three cars, right? Nobody’s got one car anymore. And, I think, less people going in because it’s more complicated. You need more training than you did before,” said Stewart.

Students enrolled in this program can intern with local auto shops and have a job once the course is completed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay for an automotive technician is nearly $47,000 a year. There are more than 67,000 openings for technicians and mechanics nationwide each year.

“This is a great way for students to get right out into the workforce right after high school, you know, they’re going to be able to start that work-based learning,” said Public Education Coordinator Kinsley Rafish.

Students can get more information and apply for the course at Montana Technological University’s website.