Ingrid Dobson, a master technician at Chapman BMW in Scottsdale, AZ, is the first woman in the industry to win top honors in the ACT (Association of Certified Technicians) Challenge.
It is a series of written tests that measure a technician's knowledge and skill. Beyond that, Dobson is leading the way in breaking down stereotypes and barriers for women interested in pursing careers in automotive services.
Named 2005 technician of the year at Chapman, Dobson is becoming a well-recognized name in the auto service industry. Despite numerous accolades, she remains humble. She credits her hard work and humility as qualities that won over her male counterparts.
“Once they see how hard you work, that you enjoy doing what you do and are not trying to make a point, they are fine,” she says.
BMW says Dobson has shown tremendous growth as a technician trained as part of the STEP initiative (Service Technician Education Program) for new technicians.
Taking advantage of opportunities and continuing education that BMW provides for technicians at the national level and at individual dealerships, she has climbed the ranks.
As a six-year employee at Chapman, Dobson has a superior work ethic, says her service manager, Garrett O'Dell.
“Ingrid is one of the best in terms of skills such as productivity and efficiency, as well as unmeasurables, like her passion for what she does,” he says.
He adds that she is a good example of what can be accomplished if someone is serious about an auto service career, and stresses that Dobson's success is especially notable because of her work in a male-dominated line of work.
Her advice to women aspiring to be auto technicians: Try to learn as much as possible while gaining hands-on experience. And don't get discouraged.
“Gender doesn't matter as long as you prove you can overcome challenges,” she says.
Opportunities in the field are plentiful. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics says 35,000 new automotive service jobs come on line each year.
According to a study, about 12,000 women are working as automotive service technicians; they make up just 1.3% of 936,000 in the automotive service field.
It's rewarding work, says Dobson. “I enjoy the manual labor aspect of being a tech, but I especially love when I'm faced with a thought-provoking problem that I need to solve. There's nothing like seeing a car drive off like brand new after you've fixed it.”