Not only do I service vehicles, but I also own my business, manage the shop and take care of everything from hiring to advertising to payroll.
After high school I went to the University of Waterloo and earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and business. I then got a certificate in human resources management at York University and went to Centennial College for levels one and two of the auto service technician apprenticeship training program. There are three levels in all.
With a BA, you can move into a different field more easily than with an engineering degree, for example, so my education decisions were good in terms of giving me flexibility.
I went into the trades simply because I wanted to learn more about my own car. I wanted more knowledge going into the service department to get my car fixed. Plus, it was a good time to take the apprenticeship - I was off work on mat leave and figured I might as well go back to school.
You always hear how women feel they're getting taken advantage of when they bring their car in for service, so I knew that a service aspect of auto repair was missing from the industry. I wanted to create a shop to address that specifically.
At the University of Waterloo I picked up organizational skills and business skills like HR management and accounting. Very little of my auto service training came from school - maybe 10 per cent - because we only trained for two months. The apprenticeship does teach the basic theory behind the vehicles, so in engines class, for instance, you study how an engine works. Where you get the real learning, however, is on the job.
When I was in HR and we'd implement a staff training or development program, it took a while to see the results, whereas when a car comes in running rough, we run a few tests, diagnose a few things, change a few parts and the symptom is gone. So it's much quicker.
People who can follow through logically on instructions make the best auto service technicians. That's what we're called now; we used to be called mechanics. The difference is that now we're seen as technicians because everything is more electronically controlled and there's more of an emphasis on diagnosis. A mechanic is typically somebody who can just replace parts, but a person who can diagnose is way more valuable.
We have more men coming to us to repair their cars, but that speaks to the division of labour in the family: men are still responsible for bringing the car in. A lot of guys now know more about their Apple iPhone than they do about their car, just because we're in a different age.
Within 10 minutes of talking with a guy, you can tell whether he knows anything about his car. So the technician who's going to take advantage of a woman is also going to take advantage of a man. It's really about the integrity of the technician.
WHERE TO STUDY
Cambrian College (Sudbury) Motive power technician, service and management: $3,503/year (plus fees); motive power technician - truck and coach: $3,490/year (plus fees). cambriancollege.ca
Centennial College (Toronto) Automotive service technician (apprenticeship): $1,820/year. centennialcollege.ca
Durham College (Whitby) Automotive service technician (apprenticeship): $400-$500/level. durhamcollege.ca
Sault College (Sault Ste. Marie) Motive power fundamentals - automotive repair, motive power fundamentals; heavy equipment and truck repair, motive power technician - advanced repair: $1,270/semester (plus fees). saultcollege.ca
Seneca College (Toronto) Motive power fundamentals - automotive repair, motive power fundamentals; heavy equipment and truck repair, motive power technician - advanced repair: $1,270/semester (plus fees). senecac.on.ca