Wallace State partners with Fitzgerald Peterbilt to offer apprenticeships

Wallace State Community College has partnered with Fitzgerald Peterbilt to offer apprenticeships for students in the WSCC Diesel Technology program. (Wallace State)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State Community College announces a new apprenticeship opportunity for students in the Diesel Technology program. Fitzgerald Peterbilt will offer apprenticeship to students in the program, allowing them to enhance their college training by working alongside veteran technicians at several of their locations across Alabama.

Students will start off making $18 an hour and could advance up to $22 an hour by the end of the apprenticeship, with the possibility of full-time employment at that time.

“Our goal is to put folks in our shops so that they can keep learning in conjunction with the college and have a job when they’re done,” said Joe Depew, operations manager at Fitzgerald Peterbilt. “Our goal is to have a constant stream of apprentices who become long-term employees. The backbone of our business is the mechanics. We can’t sell trucks unless we have really good mechanics in our shops to keep those trucks on the road.”

He continued, “Right now, there’s a significate shortage of diesel technicians across the country in all walks of life and everyone is competing for them. So having an apprenticeship program like this, a state-sponsored program with the college, is just one of the many ways in which we are going to solve our diesel mechanic issue on a go-forward basis.”

Depew said they appreciate the partnership with Wallace State and the opportunity it provides the students.

“The on-the-job work that you can do to learn in conjunction and parallel to your classroom, it’s invaluable,” Depew said. “We’re excited about this partnership and to have those mechanics for the future of our company for decades to come.”

“This will give our students, not only while they’re in the program, to have a job, but to have a job that gives them on-the-site training with a dealership,” said Wyatt Swann, department chair of the WSCC Diesel Technology program. “As far as gaining insight knowledge on the actual product they will be working on in the field full-time, this will give them a head start on that.”

Diesel Technology student Megan Tucker is excited about the opportunity to be an apprentice at Fitzgerald Peterbilt. “I know those trucks,” said Tucker, who grew up helping her father work on diesel trucks.

“I appreciate the apprenticeship very much because it gives an opportunity to someone like me who needs it, but they don’t know which way to go,” she said. “The apprenticeship program is kind of like a helping hand, you get the training here and you also get it at work, and I believe it helps your career.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be more than 28,000 job openings each year for diesel service technicians through 2031. The median pay nationwide in 2021 was $23.41 per hour

The apprenticeship is registered through the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.

Wallace State offers 13 registered apprenticeship opportunities in multiple programs across campus, including Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Diesel Technology, Machining, Mechatronics and more. For more information about the Diesel Technology program, contact Wyatt Swann at 256-352-8357 or wyatt.swann@wallacestate.edu.

For more information about apprenticeship opportunities contact Christina Holmes at 256-352-8120 or christina.holmes@wallacestate.edu.