Women in Trades: Making the Career Switch From Homicide Detective to Automotive Technician

After a successful 24-year career with the Albuquerque Police Department, Andrea Ortiz enrolled at CNM to try her hand at something new
March 21, 2024

Andrea Ortiz is no stranger to being a woman in a male-dominated field. 

She spent the last two decades as an officer for the Albuquerque Police Department, working her way up to homicide detective. After retiring last year she decided to enroll in CNM’s Automotive Technology certificate program to learn a new set of skills. 

“I’ve been helping my dad restore his Chevy Nova, and I actually have a Nova of my own that I’m working on,” she says. “The little I knew about cars was from the work I’ve done with him, but I wanted to have a more in-depth understanding and CNM’s automotive program was a great option.”

Andrea took the Introduction to Automotive Systems class while she was still on the police force. It was a challenge at times to balance her career and coursework, but her instructors were understanding of her schedule and she quickly found her footing. 

Now that she’s officially retired, Andrea is taking two classes at a time and is thankful for the continued support from her instructors and classmates. 

“The faculty are very supportive of women pursuing careers in the trades, which is so encouraging,” she says. “It’s also really inspiring to see the other women, especially young women, in class with me going after what they want.”

Along with the strong community she’s found at CNM, Andrea also feels confident in the technical skills she’s learning. 

“The structure of the classes is really informative because we get to focus on one thing at a time, like brakes or air conditioning,” she says. “I feel like I’ve already learned so much and I’m looking forward to what the rest of my classes have in store.”

Andrea doesn't have any definitive plans for after she graduates, but she’s excited to see where her new skill set takes her. 

Ultimately, Andrea hopes more women will continue to pursue the trades or other traditionally male-dominated careers. 

“There will likely be times that you have to prove yourself, but if there is something you want to go after don’t let that stop you,” she says. “It’s been such a nice change of pace at CNM to see how supportive and accepting people are of women in these industries, and I hope that it will continue to become easier and easier for women to make a name for themselves in the trades.”