Companies in need of skilled technicians are supporting training and certification programs like the CAT dealer prep program, ThinkBIG, to set young technicians on the path to a fulfilling career and breed skilled workers to fuel the future of field service.
Welcome back to our Service Technician Careers Series. In Part 1 we outlined the state and outlook of service technician careers, highlighting the growing demand in nearly every industry.
Now that we know there’s a gap to fill, we’ll explore opportunities for technician education and training, opportunities which benefit both companies and workers by providing rewarding careers in an industry in need of trained workers.
Companies are struggling to recruit skilled technicians—the key word here being: “skilled.” While technician careers are rewarding, being a good field service tech isn’t easy, and finding technicians who have the right skills, experience and training can mean all the difference.
Here we explore some examples of big companies that have invested a lot in technician training and education. We even hear a first-hand account from a field service tech and graduate of ThinkBIG through Mustang CAT in Texas.
Caterpillar Dealer Prep Program: ThinkBIG and ThinkBIGGER
Caterpillar offers an amazing program for technicians-in-training in which dealers all around the world partner with local colleges to teach diagnostics and advanced technologies for servicing CAT equipment. The program is structured with split semesters—eight weeks of course work followed by eight weeks of hands-on, paid work experience—so students gain valuable experience (and cash) while in school. At the end of the two-year ThinkBIG program, graduates receive an associate’s degree in applied science and plenty of work experience to leverage.
While most ThinkBIG graduates move on as full-time technicians for Caterpillar, some go on to work with other companies or as CAT contractors.
And for those who want even more education and training, Caterpillar’s ThinkBIGGER program equips students with engineering technology, theory, logic, and business skills to prepare them for careers in service management, manufacturing management, and diesel and heavy equipment as they work toward a bachelor’s degree.
A Word from a Field Service Tech and ThinkBIG Alum, Mason Sydow
Mason Sydow, a graduate of Mustang CAT ThinkBIG, is now working as a field service technician in El Campo, Texas. He graduated the prep program in 2007 and has been working as a CAT dealer field service tech for heavy equipment, rigs, and boats in the petroleum and oil industry ever since.
In the program he learned a lot of fundamentals like diagnostics, systems operations, hydraulics, and electrical, as well as hands-on training. In one training exercise, he said each student had to troubleshoot a piece of equipment and report back to the instructor with the diagnosis. Hands-on experiences like these, and the associates degree he earned along the way, prepared him for the successful career he’s now pursuing.
Mason’s job is challenging; he has to travel to customer locations such as marinas and drilling rigs equipped with the right parts, tools, and instructions to fix the problem. He says the job is rewarding though and he enjoys working with the customers: “I get a lot of satisfaction from dealing with the customers. They get to know you and you get to learn a lot of different industries. It’s gratifying to see something go from start to finish.”
FABTECH: Service Technician Education Center
CAT dealer, FABCO, serving Wisconsin and upper Michigan, offers a training program through FABTECH Service Technician Education Center in conjunction with partner college, Fox Valley Technical College. Through the program, students can choose between two service technician programs: construction equipment or electrical power generation (EPG) & marine engine. And, like the ThinkBIG program, FABTECH students can apply credits towards an associate’s of applied science degree.
Where to Find Your Next Tech
If you’re in the same boat as many service organizations—struggling to find qualified workers—then go to your nearest tech training program and start partnering and recruiting. These programs are turning out skilled technicians with experience in their chosen area who are eager to get started in the workforce. What are you waiting for?!
Service Technician Careers: A Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Retaining Top Field Workers
A strong workforce is at the core of field service success. Use this comprehensive guide–with expert advice from Texas Caterpillar dealer and top applicant tracking company, BirdDog–to build a quality team for your organization.
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