*Note: This profile was written by Scott Panagrosso, an NC Works Career Pathways facilitator, Prosperity Zones 2 & 4, for the North Carolina Department of Commerce. FTCC was given permission to share the article. It has been edited for style.
How would you define career success? Everyone’s answer is different, but Marc Barnes of Fayetteville seems to have his answer – and willing to share it! On the surface, Barnes looks like any other 20 year old attending FTCC. But scratch that surface, and you will learn this young man has a bright future ahead of him.
Barnes was home schooled and planned to pursue post-secondary education. In his junior year of high school, he met with the FTCC High School Connections Coordinator. When asked about his interests, Barnes said, “I want to do something with my hands”. The counselor told him about a new program called Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology, a two-year / five semester associate in applied science degree program preparing students for careers in the automotive collision repair industry.
A car enthusiast, Barnes quickly agreed to give it a shot. He enrolled into FTCC through Career and College Promise. He excelled in the program and upon graduating from high school, enrolled at FTCC fall 2017.
Thanks to North Carolina’s Career and College Promise program, Barnes already completed the first of the five semesters while still in high school. Thanks to FTCC’s close relationship with the automotive industry, he met many local employers. His new skills and enthusiasm earned him employment with ABRA Autobody & Glass, a national collision repair corporation in 2018.
During the last semester of each class, the program hosts Draft Days, a hiring rodeo when many collision repair employers visit FTCC’s Collision Repair & Refinishing Technology Center on Santa Fe Drive to hire future employees out of the upcoming graduating class annually. Ten companies were represented fall 2018. Barnes was offered a position by three employers. In the end, he selected Priority Collision based out of Richmond, VA. Barnes shared details about the offer which some would describe as quite impressive. The company agreed to pay off his existing student loans and purchase a new set of specialized collision repair tools for a combined incentive worth more than $12,000. In addition, Priority Collision offered Barnes a subsidized apartment for six months, recognizing he was leaving home for an unknown city. Finally, between a base salary and incentives, Barnes expected to earn just more than $70,000 annually.
Now, Barnes works as an Estimator at Priority Collision, a position for which he hadn’t given much thought to as a student.
“Never thought I’d be estimating, but I actually like it,” he wrote via text message.
So, how would you define success? Barnes’ version certainly is one example. He graduated with an associate’s degree, 19 industry recognized credentials in the automotive collision repair industry, no college debt and a great job. In 2017, the average graduate with a four year degree earns $49,785, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. [In 2017,] USA Today reported 68% of bachelor’s degree students graduated with student loan debt averaging $30,100 per borrower.
FTCC’s Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology Program is one of 35 certified career pathways. It continues to produce skilled graduates for the automotive repair industry.
For more information, contact FTCC at (910) 486-3995. The Collision Repair Education Foundation reports a nationwide shortage of collision repair specialists with demand increasing annually. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics annual job growth in the field by 8% annually.