Lucrative Emissions

Marie Albu

You can get down and dirty for less at City College.

City College’s automotive technologies program offers both a certificate of completion and associate of science degree in automotive service and technology. You can get all of this locally for less than the average $20,000 it would cost at a private institution in as little as three semesters.

Automotive technology, a formerly less prestigious area of study, is now a lucrative field.

“For years it was looked down upon as a dirty job no one wanted to do,” said Bob Stockero, head of the department. “Therefore people weren’t interested. Not too many parents 10 years ago suggested ‘son or daughter, why don’t you take auto mechanics.'”

Now, according to the program’s website, technicians can make upwards of $60,000 a year. Technicians are in high demand.

“We fill a need in the community,” Stockero said. “Everybody drives cars.”

According to the California Employment Development Department, 100 new technicians are needed every year in Santa Barbara County alone.

Stockero said the reason for the demand is that many technicians in his generation are getting ready to retire. Formerly, kids were more interested in working on their own cars and working with their hands in general. Nowadays kids are raised on video games.

The field is changing too, Stockero said. The jobs today include more sophisticated technology and they’re cleaner.

The program has also teamed up with Carpinteria High School to offer dual enrollment. This opportunity also draws the students to City College when they graduate. Once a student gets their certificate or gets their associate’s degree the career center matches students with local shops looking for technicians.

“We work with Deborah Gentry in the career center,” Stockero said. “She’s doing a real good job.”

Bob Ehrmann, director of the career center, said the feedback from students is some of the best he’s ever heard.

“The faculty are heavily involved in the employment of the students,” he said. “We’re seeing salaries six months out anywhere from $9-$16 an hour.”

Ehrmann said some graduates can go on to earn as much as $100,000 a year.

Stockero is himself a graduate of the program here at City College. In fact, all the instructors in the departments are. Part-time instructor Gary Semerdjian, who transferred to UCSB after completing the City College program, even owns his own shop.

But don’t be intimidated. Students who just want to learn a little more about their cars are welcome too. Auto 101 is a lecture class that explains the fundamentals of how cars work.

Stockero said students should take this class if for no other reason than to learn the lingo to avoid getting ripped off. Auto 110 is the follow-up course in which students can learn things like how to change their own oil. The automotive program is great for anyone who’s interested in working in the field to someone who just wants to learn the difference between a piston and a carburetor.

“Often times when a car doesn’t work right it’s a matter of being a detective for the most part,” Stockero said. “When the students finally figure out how to fix it – that’s the reward.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the program can visit their website at www.sbcc.edu/automotive/website.

-Channels staff report