WIP Episode 311 Jennifer Maher JPG

‘When Techs Rock, America Rolls!’

A conversation with Jennifer Maher, CEO, TechForce Foundation

In this episode of Work in Progress, I’m joined by Jennifer Maher, CEO of TechForce Foundation, to discuss one of the fastest-growing jobs in America – professional transportation technician – and how the nonprofit is supporting people of all ages and backgrounds trying to get into the field.

Over the next four years, jobs in the transportation tech field are expected to grow by nearly 800,000, according to TechForce Foundation, as older workers leave the workforce and brand new jobs are created by advancements in technology.

“We’re talking about automobiles, airplanes, trucks, motorcycles, boats, race cars, anything that moves, even stationary engines,” explains Maher. “And not only is it automobiles as we would traditionally think, but now it’s the autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles. It’s drones. It’s charging stations. They all need skilled qualified technicians to keep them moving.”

Maher describes the crucial role the technician plays in our society.

“Our motto at TechForce is ‘When Techs Rock, America Rolls!’ COVID gave us the term ‘essential workers,’ that there are certain jobs that have to keep going to keep us all rolling. The technician remains an essential job.

“We all need to get to work, to get to school, to get groceries to our shelves. We need to be moving products and things all over the world, and we still want to take our vacations and/or fly from here to there.

“Imagine the world without techs and how different it would be if everything came to a grinding halt. And that is why we advocate for this profession and for the industry because we need them,” says Maher.

Maher says anyone interested in working with their hands, problem-solving, and new technology should consider a career as a professional technician. But she adds, you will find the skills needed a little different than you would have imagined in the past.

“There’s still the outdated stigma of the shade tree mechanic or the grease monkey. And yes, there is wrenching and, yes, there’s oil and lubricants and things, but it is so much more of a STEM career today – the science, technology, engineering, and math; the circuitry; the computer and the diagnostics; the calibration; and the advanced safety systems. You can’t just lift your hood and work on most vehicles today. You’ve got to be trained and skilled.”

TechForce Foundation’s mission is helping students of all ages and backgrounds – including older adults wanting to change careers – explore and enter the field through scholarships, connections to internships, and support of workforce development training.

In the podcast, Maher shares stories of how the scholarships have help hundreds – including a veteran named Jose and a 16-year-old girl named Chris – found their paths to becoming professional transportation technicians.

So how much does a tech make? Location and cost of living can affect a salary, but automotive techs typically average more than $60,000 and with additional certifications that salary can reach into six figures. For aviation techs, the average salary after three years ranges from $72,000 to over $100,000, depending on location, according to TechForce.

Interested in exploring a career in transportation tech? You can listen to the podcast here, or download and listen wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find it our Work in Progress YouTube channel.

Episode 311: Jennifer Maher, CEO, TechForce Foundation
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Transcript: Download the transcript for this episode here
Work in Progress Podcast: Catch up on previous episodes here

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