Growing up poor and working to put himself through an AT program, Adkins is now a fleet repair technician and working toward a business degree
Leesburg, Va.—The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence occasionally profiles one of its ASE-certified professionals. Below is a Q&A with fleet repair technician Justin Adkins. Interested in sharing your story with ASE? Send an email with your contact information to email@example.com or click here.
Tell us about yourself. What made you decide to become a service professional?
I grew up poor and I couldn’t afford to go to a traditional college. My high school grades were good enough to qualify for tuition and expense assistance at a technical college. I had quite a bit of experience working on my own vehicles to keep them running, and I had always had a passion for vehicles, so I chose to pursue a degree in automotive technology.
Where/How did you get your training to get the knowledge you have today?
I worked at a grocery store to provide for myself while I was in technical college. I obtained a degree in automotive technology and was the top of my class. As soon as I finished my degree, I took A1-A8 and passed them (he now holds A1-A9).
How long have you worked as a service professional?
In 2023 it will be 10 years since I began my journey as an automotive technician. I started at an independent shop as a drive ability technician. I then moved to a Ford dealership where I became a transmission and driveline specialist. I mainly repaired automatic transmissions. I then moved on to another Ford dealership where I specialized in everything bumper to bumper, gas and diesel, as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. I completed seven years in the Ford dealership system before I moved on to a fleet repair facility and am working on completing a business degree.
What role has being ASE Certified played in your journey?
My ASE certifications have made me highly employable. If you become master-certified through ASE, you are basically guaranteed to be hired on the spot by any repair facility you walk in to. Especially with the technician shortage that the world is currently experiencing.
What are some of the top challenges you face as a service professional and how do you overcome them?
One of the main challenges I experienced was being looked down upon for my age. This is overcome by striving to be the best. If you are the one fixing all the problem vehicles and making the company money, your age no longer matters. This profession is no longer just a game of years of experience. The days of the shade tree mechanic and being self taught are practically gone. You must have a solid basis of training and knowledge to even begin diagnosing modern vehicles. You must have the desire to constantly learn and adapt. These days automotive technicians also have to be electricians, fluent in computers and programming, and have a high level of reading comprehension and critical thinking skills to get the job done.
Do you have any advice for today’s students who might be thinking about entering the automotive industry or becoming a service professional?
My advice is to seek out the toughest things that no one else wants to do, and become great at them. If you do this you will always have a job. You are either growing or you are falling behind. You must be willing to adapt and constantly learn. And you must have a strong will to succeed in this industry. One time I asked one of my old high school mentors how he overcame all the challenges in his life, and his answer was simple, “In the war of wills, I always win.” This is a great motto for the automotive industry and life in general.
What do you like most about being an automotive service professional?
I enjoy the continual learning and experiencing the new technology and systems as they come out. I also enjoy being the first person to solve new and difficult problems. I believe in seeking out the toughest challenges, because that is how you grow as a person and a technician. If you stay in your comfort zone you become stagnant and stop improving.