Underhood: ABS Diagnostics
How the Peterbilt Technician Training Program creates heavy-duty careers.
Have you ever considered a career in the heavy-duty, diesel industry? Bigger vehicles, bigger engines, and bigger opportunities could be out there.
In Dallas, Texas, CTG Instructor Andrew Albright is training students at one of four Peterbilt Technician Institute (PTI) campuses in the U.S. for a career as a diesel technician at a Peterbilt dealership. Set up to simulate a shop environment, the lab usually has two to five heavy-duty trucks, including current model vehicles. Here, students work on exactly what they’ll find on the job at any of the 350 Peterbilt service locations.
“Since 1998 every dealer you talk to needs techs,” says Brian Brooks, Peterbilt Technical Institute program manager. “We were on the sidelines for too long, and we decided to do something about it.”
Through a collaborative program with Universal Technical Institute, PTI started in Texas in 2013 and has since grown to campuses in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. To be considered for the program, students must complete core curriculum from the UTI Diesel Technology programs or another NATEF-Certified program before applying. Once students successfully enter the PTI program, they are paired with a Peterbilt dealer who pays for their tuition and will hire them upon graduation. Because the students will train on the vehicles already on the road, they have an edge on the technology as well.
“When I went to work in ’04 and ’05, we didn’t have software like this and just in the last 10 years these trucks have gotten so complicated. I can’t imagine someone just walking into a dealership and being like, ‘Hey I’d like to work here.’ We give them pathways to a career,” says Albright.
During their studies, students earn 12 Peterbilt certifications as well as certifications for both the PACCAR MX-11 and MX-13 engines over the course of 12 weeks. Everything is covered, from basic inspections to engine and electrical work, plus all maintenance repairs and diagnostic work.
“We teach the basics and how to approach a job successfully. You can teach a guy how brakes work, but if there is a problem does he know what to look for and how to start?” says Albright. “We teach students how to start a job… I can teach them how to troubleshoot all day long, but if a truck comes in with a problem, they need to look at it and know how to look at the symptoms.”
“My favorite thing about the PTI program is the exposure to the variety of troubleshooting processes for the Peterbilt trucks and PACCAR engines,” adds Melvin Funes Jr., a PTI Dallas/Fort Worth student.
Students also have a couple of avenues to buy their tools. On a case by case basis, Peterbilt dealers can offer a tool stipend and students also have access to a discount from Snap-on.
“We feel like PTI provides graduates with a foundation to build their career. We’re not trying to find them a job. Because they are in their program, they can get a job anywhere they want,” says PTI’s Brooks. “We are in the business to find them a career. We are in the career-finding business at PTI.”