The fixer: What it takes to be a technician at Brian Jessel BMW
It’s an innocent-enough start. Many begin in their youth, tinkering under hoods and sliding beneath the undercarriage to figure out how it works, and how to make it work better. They sidle up to their father, grandfather, an uncle or friend with particularly oil-stained hands and they practice, they study and they set the gears of their career as a car technician in motion.
By Rafal Chrzanowski Service Manager
At BrianJessel BMW, our technicians are constantly upgrading their education and skills, from Red Seal to BMW Master Technician Status.
As technology advances in bounds, the automotive industry revs to keep up and the demand for highly skilled car technicians continues to grow. But it takes more than just a preventative mindset and a fancy set of wrenches to become an automotive technician. As far as BMW is concerned, it’s not enough to grasp the mechanical components and their function on a vehicle; it’s also essential to understand the electronic workings and the role they play individually and as part of the whole car. At Brian Jessel BMW, aspiring technicians must first pass a series of interviews and demonstrate general technical knowledge of our vehicles (Brian does the final interview with all potential employees). From here, new hires spend time in different areas of the Service Department, including the wash stations, where vehicles are vacuumed, washed and prepped following servicing; the drive thru, where clients drop off and pick up their vehicles; and shop clean-up, where work stations are maintained. This exposure to the various areas of the department is a great screening process for determining whether or not a candidate is prepared to start their career in the Express Shop, a division where entry level technicians, along with a BMW certified technician, perform general maintenance on vehicles.
In orderto progress to the Express department, candidates must pass a set of Automotive Knowledge Exams, administered bythe Service Department’s management team. Challenging and time-consuming (they can take up to two hours to complete), the exams hold technicians to strict standards: 80% is the minimum passing grade and candidates have only two attempts to pass in order to land a position in the shop. With the exams behind them, entry level technicians are paired up with a Certified Technician on the Express Team and the training begins. It’s an apprenticeship that will last four years, an industry red seal standard that’s controlled by Industry Training Authority (ITA). The training is rigorous: apprentices must complete 6,480 hours in the workplace as well as 24 weeks of classroom training over four separate terms. Each term is held at the end of each completed work year, and each level of certification is more advanced and demanding than the next. The completion of every year depends on a minimum 70% grade, and this includes the final Final InterProvincial Red Seal Examination. The Red Seal Certification is a national designation that allows licensed technicians to work in a trade or occupation in any Canadian Province or Territory that participates in the Interprovincial Standards Program. Following the apprenticeship, the next stop is the Main Shop, where technicians are exposed to advanced electronics, diagnostics and mechanical repairs. At this point, they would also be placed in the BMW Training Program at the Associate Level. At Brian Jessel BMW, our technicians are constantly upgrading their education and skills, from Red Seal to BMW MasterTechnician Status. But before a technician achieves Master status, there is still much ground to cover. Along with their years of instruction, both on the general functions of a vehicle and advanced electronics, technicians at Brian Jessel BMW also receive guidance from BMW University – a training program developed by the brand as a wayto educate employees on the cars our clients drive today.
BMW University is a stepping stone for our technicians to establish their status within the BMW organization – on top of their Red Seal Certification, a BMW Technician can obtain four additional levels of certification with the manufacturer (Associate, Member, Certified and Master). This process takes proximately five to seven years, during which time technicians must pass not only the written tests at each of the four levels, but practical exams as well. These hands-on tests take place at the BMW University in Toronto, in front of a live panel of instructors. After completing this long stretch oftraining, obtaining Red Seal certification and successful completion of BMW University, a student is finally declared a Master Technician – the highest level a technician can achieve within the BMW organization. But like any service trade, skills must be refreshed. Technicians are responsible for attending new technology courses offered bythe BMW University and must complete a re-certification test and handson exam every three years. All ofthis training is not just an investment oftime and effort – it also involves a considerable financial commitment. In order to perform maintenance and repairs on client’s vehicles, technicians must purchase a variety oftools. Just as BMW vehicles are known for solid workmanship and technological advances, so too must BMW technicians be prepared to maintain and repair these vehicles with top-of-the-line equipment and tools. At Brian Jessel BMW, we supply our technicians with specialty tools and diagnostic equipment, but the average technician will still personally spend $2,500 every year on tools that are not available to the general public. In terms ofthe overall investment, the average technician at a luxury dealer can expect to invest more than $100,000 over their entire career. To balance this investment, technicians are well compensated. Brian Jessel BMW is proud to offertechnicians competitive wages and a fantastic benefits package, along with an exceptional work environment that fosters the best work possible.
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