Want to Be an Automotive Technician? The Ford Fund Will Help Pay for It

The Ford Fund is giving more than $2M in scholarships to those pursuing an automotive technician career. We've got the skinny.

Ford Fund Automotive Technician Auto Careers
Pioneering women at Ford like Linda Zhanag inspire future generations of auto technicians. Photo: Ford

The Young Driver in Me Is Stunned By Today’s Automotive Technology

At the risk of dating myself, when I was a teenager, I can remember being seriously impressed by car stereos with cassette players that would automatically stop rewinding or fast-forwarding at the start of the next song. It was groundbreaking because it took all the guesswork out of finding my favorite tunes. That little innovation seems like rubbing two sticks together compared to the tech our cars have today. It’s so 80s!

Back then, I don’t think I could have imagined the self-driving, electric-powered cars that can also park themselves that we have now. And if that’s where we are currently, can you just imagine where we’re going?

Related: Electrify Expo: Unveiling the Future

Ford Fund Automotive Technicians Auto Careers

Future auto technicians will need to be knowledgeable about EVs, like the Ford Lightning. Photo: Erica Mueller

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

I think the people at Ford can, which is why they’re giving $2 million in scholarships to help students who are pursuing careers as automotive technicians. According to Ford, the automotive industry continues to face an ongoing shortage of technicians, with over 400,000 techs needed by 2027. The scholarships are being awarded by the Ford Fund, which is the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company.

“As vehicles become more advanced, we need highly skilled technicians to maintain and service them,” says Elena Ford, Ford’s Chief Dealer Engagement Officer. Partnering with our dealers to invest in these students helps create job opportunities, shapes the future of our communities, and drives growth in our industry.”

2024 marks the second year of the scholarship program, which promotes diversity and removes financial barriers for students.

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Ford Fund Automotive Technician Auto Careers

Ford hopes to increase diversity in the automotive technician workforce. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Down Low on Being an Automotive Technician

I was able to sit down with both Alex Shelton of Ford Fund and Ashlee H., a scholarship recipient, for a deep dive into the program. Alex called cars “computers on wheels,” and rightfully so. We’ve come a long way from those cassette decks that could automatically stop at the next song. “We are looking for people to do and solve problems better, who can bring more collaboration into the space,” he said. He wants to change society’s perceptions that being a technician is a second-rate profession.

“We’re offering people exciting career opportunities. A Master Technician can make six figures.” Alex explained that the scholarship is available to anyone who is currently enrolled or who will be enrolling in an automotive technician program. This includes recent high school graduates, military personnel coming out of service, or even anyone looking for a career change. He specifically pointed to the idea that diversity drives innovation, and they are looking for people from all backgrounds who can bring their talents for creative problem-solving to the industry. While most of last year’s scholarship recipients were college-aged, many were older, and 7% were women. He hopes to bring that number up as more and more women apply.

Related: Is DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Dead? 

Ford Fund Automotive Technician Auto Careers

Pioneering women at Ford like Linda Zhang help inspire future auto technicians. Photo: Ford

Making Waves as an Automotive Technician

That brings me to Ashlee, a confident young woman who I’m sure is going to make waves in the best possible way. Ashlee graduated from high school last year and is currently enrolled in the Ford ASSET Program – a two-year program, which, upon completion, means that she will be a Certified Ford Technician. She spends 8 weeks at a time learning in the classroom, and then spends the next 8 weeks interning at her local Ford dealership, where she learns under a mentor and is paid for her time. This 8×8 rotation continues for the duration of the program.

Ashlee has actually stacked her $5,000 scholarship with other scholarships to maximize her educational opportunities. She told me that she has used the money to help pay for gas – she has a 45-minute commute to school – and she bought a new laptop to help her study. And therein lies the beauty of the scholarship: that students can use it in whatever way will help them get through school. It’s not just limited to tuition.

When I asked Ashlee what her goals were, she told me that she wanted to own her own business: a one-stop shop for all things automotive. It will be a place where people can bring their cars for service and maintenance, but they can also get after-market customizations done as well. She told me she wants to hire mostly women, but she believes in diversity, so she might have a few men on staff, too. She also wants to show women that it is possible to come out of a program with a skill and not have any debt.

Finally, I asked her what advice she would give to future applicants. She said that if you don’t know how to apply, there are people all around who are willing to help—you just have to ask!

See what I mean? Wave. Maker.

Ford Fund, Auto Technicians Auto Careers

The future is bright for aspiring auto technicians. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Program Speaks to my Teacher Heart

As both an educator and a car girl, I can really get behind Ford Fund and their Auto Tech scholarship program. It gets me excited not just for where the industry is now, but for where we’re going in the future.

For more information about the program, check out this link. To learn more about how Ford celebrates women in the industry, click here. You’ll even find a little more about Ashlee and other female wavemakers.

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Cindy is a life-long car enthusiast who began writing about cars in 2001 for Car-Data.com. As a kid, she... More about Cindy Stagg