A career as a diesel mechanic awaits those who are seeking out a life that includes job security and satisfaction. This profession also includes a great deal of earning potential, as many diesel mechanics go on to lead very comfortable lives. Most mechanics have already developed a genuine affinity for working on vehicles. This sets the stage for an exciting job that is always fresh and rewarding. Being a diesel mechanic often means getting paid to perform a service that genuinely appeals to those who enter this field. Getting started on a career path to becoming a diesel mechanic can be done by following these five steps.
Job Duties of a Diesel Mechanic
The job of a diesel mechanic is different from that of an ordinary auto mechanic because it involves a unique skillset. Different kinds of engines require different protocol and procedure when conducting service and repair. Here is a look at what diesel mechanics can expect over the course of a typical workday.
Choose a Diesel Mechanic Training Program
Once the decision is made to become a diesel mechanic, another important decision will follow. Choosing a post-secondary school for diesel mechanic training is a key part of this process. There are different options students can choose from, and the most popular ones are as follows:
This is offered through many technical institutes, automotive training schools and community colleges. The curriculum is typically focused solely on diesel technology and takes about a year to complete. Program length has slight variations and program names may also differ. However, the general principles are pretty much the same. A certificate of completion is issued upon the completion of all the necessary coursework.
The issuance of an Associate Degree in Diesel Technology comes from a junior college, community college or technical college that is accredited. This option usually requires the additional completion of some general education credits. Students attending on a full-time basis generally take no longer than two years to earn their diploma. Cost is often higher for this option, although financial aid and scholarships are available.
When choosing a degree or certificate option, students should consider class size, faculty, cost, and job placement options. Both of these educational pathways have tremendous benefits, and both serve as ample training to enter into an entry level position as a diesel technician. Employers mostly seek out new diesel mechanics, who have completed a formal training program.
There are admission requirements set by each institution, although they are generally not too demanding. The most common requirement is to have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalency. Another common requirement is to have a valid driver’s license. Some junior colleges may ask students to apply directly to the diesel technology program. This is done mainly because of limited class size. Program directors then decide on which applicants gain admission based on the merit of their applications.
Complete Diesel Mechanic Education
Diesel mechanic training programs are comprised of classroom instruction, as well as a practical portion. This is where students get to learn in an actual shop setting through a hands-on approach. Instructors are experienced diesel mechanics, who have usually spent years working on diesel engines. During a student’s time in a diesel mechanic education program, the following concepts are taught:
No matter which educational option is chosen, there is a need to pass all the necessary exams and curriculum requirements. This will result in the awarding of a certificate of completion or an Associate Degree. Both distinctions serve as adequate job qualifications for diesel mechanics.
Find a Diesel Mechanic Job
Diesel mechanics are not limited to working in one specific sector. There is a host of options and job titles to choose from, outside of being just a diesel mechanic. Here is a look at the following jobs that can be attained with the completion of a diesel mechanic training program at a post-secondary institution.
Job Salary for Diesel Mechanics
When looking for employment as a diesel mechanic, the pay rate is another important aspect to consider. Diesel mechanics earn an average annual salary of $46,150, per the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics. That does not tell the whole story as the top 10% take home an average salary of $67,550 per year. The level of experience, level of certification and type of company all contribute to that annual salary amount. Some states feature higher annual salaries, with Alaska earning top billing in that category. The outlook is favorable for diesel mechanics with a yearly growth rate higher than the national average.
Gain Work Experience
One of the most effective ways to further a career as a diesel mechanic is to gain work experience. This helps to connect actual repair work to all of the concepts that were taught in a training program. Work experience is also a prerequisite to earning a certification. Obtaining and engaging in work as a diesel mechanic suffices the work experience requirements to become a certified diesel mechanic.
Diesel mechanics perform repair and maintenance on tractor trailers, but that can extend to other types of machinery. Bulldozers, dump trucks, school busses and farm equipment all require the services of a diesel mechanic. Here is a look at the following work settings that employ diesel mechanics:
Earn Diesel Mechanic Certification
The good news for new diesel mechanics is that the job demand is increasing. This reality is opening up new positions throughout the country. Finding a job as a diesel mechanic provides security for today and possibilities for tomorrow.
Skilled and experienced diesel mechanics show their value through ASE certifications. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has instituted several certifications for diesel mechanics. Earning a certification first requires meeting a certain amount of time working in the industry as a diesel mechanic. Next, mechanics must pass a certification exam issued by the ASE. These exams are offered in different categories and they are as follows:
A9 Light Vehicle Diesel Engines
T2 Medium Heavy Truck Diesel Engines
H2 Transit Bus Diesel Engines
S2 School Bus Diesel Engines
L2 Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist
A6 Auto and Light Truck Electrical Systems
H6 Transit Bus Electrical Systems
S6 School Bus Electrical Systems
T6 Medium Heavy Truck Electrical Systems
A passing score on the individual certification exams must be attained, and recertification tests must be passed every five years in order to keep them current. The value of a certification shows itself when applying for a diesel mechanic position. Applicants who hold ASE certifications usually get pushed to the front of the line. Employers often look for certified applicants as it brings credibility to their business and comfort to their customers. Most diesel repair businesses advertise the fact that their mechanics are ASE certified.
Certifications also increase the chance for earning higher pay rates. When a diesel mechanic is negotiating a salary, the ASE certification provides a certain amount of leverage. Since there is not an overabundance of diesel mechanics, a certification can serve as a kind of bargaining chip.
Building up certifications may also allow diesel mechanics to branch out and start their own diesel engine repair business. Acquiring certifications is high up on the checklist of diesel mechanics, who are hopeful of one day opening up their own shop.