RANCHO CUCAMONGA (KABC) -- On any given morning, it's pretty busy in the service department at Claremont Toyota. Lots of cars coming in and lots of technicians to take care of them. But like a lot of dealerships, they're continually looking to hire more.
"Bringing new people into the business is a huge deal," said Mike Marquez, service director at Claremont Toyota.
As older technicians retire and cars become more complicated, qualified new techs are in demand.
Relief could soon be coming from Universal Technical Institute's campus in Rancho Cucamonga. They recently celebrated the opening of a new training program specifically for Toyota and Lexus techs, sponsored by Toyota. The accelerated program gives graduates the opportunity to find jobs quickly.
"They are very hungry for trained technicians. So they come in here, 12-week comprehensive program, and they're pretty much turn-key ready to go into Toyota," said Migdalia Vazquez Valle, president of the UTI campus.
Most students who take this course start out with the school's general automotive program to get the basics under their belts. There are also other manufacturer-specific training programs here for diverse car brands whose dealerships need techs as well.
The classroom is like any other classroom, but the lab is like a Toyota dealership's service bays. Students are given the skills to diagnose and repair modern cars on the latest diagnostic equipment used on Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Of course, like most higher education, there's a cost involved. Programs here can run upwards of $40,000.
"But we do have financial aid available to those who qualify. A number of grants and scholarship opportunities also available that can help fund their tuition," said Migdalia Vazquez Valle, President, UTI Rancho Cucamonga.
And the payoff is not just a job, but a career.
"Once you get some time under your belt, some experience, and willingness to work, you can make a really good career out of this," said Mike Marquez, the Service Director at Claremont Toyota.
Many experienced dealership techs pull down six figures annually.
This is an accelerated program for 12 intensive weeks. As soon as students graduate, they're ready and qualified to begin working at a dealership.
In some cases, they begin working while they're still students. Military veteran, Michael Tagalog, attends classes at UTI and works in the lube bay a Toyota dealership nearby. For him, this is a dream situation.
"After serving in the Army I was thinking 'What should I do?' And I thought, 'Well, I like cars'," said Tagalog with a smile.
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And parents, if you don't want to envision your son or daughter being a "grease monkey," things have really changed.
"You can walk around this shop and not see one grease monkey here. You might see a few guys who are a little dirty, but the days of the grease monkey are over, for sure," assured Claremont Toyota's Marquez.