CFCC automotive systems instructor keeps students on pace with industry
After working in a salvage yard and tire shop for a few years, Thomas Butler decided he was ready to advance his career. That’s when he discovered Automotive Systems Technology at CFCC and enrolled in the associate degree program.
In the early 1990s, Butler graduated from CFCC’s first two-year Automotive Systems Technology program. He immediately found work as an automotive technician with the former Minchew Motors dealership. While employed at Minchew Motors, Butler earned his Master ASE Technician Certification.
Although years passed since his graduation, Butler was not forgotten as an outstanding student. One of his former instructors invited Butler to consider a teaching career at CFCC.
Now, more than two decades later, Butler hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve been teaching at CFCC for 24 years now,” said Butler. “I want to pay it forward. I want to help students train for a career choice.”
“Learning with Mr. Butler has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. He struck the perfect balance of hands-on and letting me figure it out my own way,” agrees Automotive Systems Technology student Dallen Barnett. “He helped me prepare for my first job and helped me excel to the position I am in currently. I cannot thank Mr. Butler enough for his help in my education and helping me achieve my goals in and outside of school.”
Paying it Forward
While many of Butler’s students seek a career in the automotive industry, others enroll in the program to learn how to repair their own cars. Butler recalls one student who works at an auto parts store. The student wanted to know automotive technology to improve his understanding of auto parts to level up his career and better assist customers.
“The Automotive Technology program at CFCC enrolls more than just high school students,” Butler commented. “We have adult learners seeking career changes. We also have students already employed in the automotive industry looking to increase their skill level to advance in their jobs.”
In-Demand Career Path
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected job openings for automotive technicians are about 69,000 per year through 2030. Butler adds that people are keeping their cars longer, so there is an increase in demand for service. On average, people are keeping their vehicles for nearly 12 years , and the number of operating vehicles 6-11 years old is expected to increase.
Electric cars are an added boost to the automotive industry. “The expansion of electric transportation may create a new offshoot of the automotive repair industry,” Butler stated. “Technicians who specialize in electric cars will be needed.”
The addition of the Automotive Apprenticeship program offers mutual benefits to students and industry employers. CFCC Automotive Apprenticeship Partners benefit from the quality hands-on training. Students graduate from the workforce ready with practical experience.
“This program is like on-the-job training,” Butler said. “I use the mindset that if the students see it in action and get to touch it, it will make more sense to them when they start working.”
“This is a great hobby, a great career, and a great way to save yourself money by doing it yourself,” summarizes Butler. “I believe cars are going to be around for a while. Somebody has to work on them. Why not you?”