Diesel Mechanic Doing Semi Truck Maintenance

Becoming a diesel mechanic allows individuals to acquire a special set of skills that is constantly in demand. This skill can lead to a productive and well-paying career in a number of different sectors. Diesel mechanics are not limited to working on one type of machinery and can also choose to work in a variety of settings. Getting started in this line of work is a way of jumping right into a career that is filled with benefits, competitive salaries and the potential for a lot of overtime work. Diesel mechanics are relied on heavily for their skill and expertise, which has enabled them to become a much-needed part of large truck and machinery repair sectors. There is a multitude of jobs waiting for diesel mechanics.


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Job Duties of a Diesel Mechanic

These are just some of the job duties performed by a diesel mechanic on a daily basis. In order to be an effective diesel mechanic, there are other skills that can be learned through training and experience. Diesel mechanics learn problem solving, critical thinking and troubleshooting skills, which are all used on a regular basis.

  • Engine electronics diagnosis and repair
  • Reading and repairing fault codes
  • Transmission and clutch replacements
  • Performing routine engine maintenance
  • Technology integration on engine structure
  • Running diagnostic and performance tests
  • Arc welding when required
  • Overhauling non-working engines
  • Disassembling engines
  • Writing up maintenance and service reports

The daily workload of a diesel mechanic is one that features many different tasks. These duties may be performed on large trucks, tractor trailers, construction vehicles and other types of heavy-duty machinery. Being a diesel mechanic requires the following duties:

Job Demand for Diesel Mechanics

The demand for diesel mechanics remains very high, and one of the reasons is because of the high earning potential. Many diesel mechanic jobs come with benefit packages, which provides a monetary value beyond their annual salaries. Hourly wages are also favorable as many diesel mechanic job listings advertise pay rates between $25 and $35 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that by the year 2024, there will have been a 12% growth rate in diesel mechanic jobs over the past ten years. That outlook is based on a number of factors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that by the year 2024, there will have been a 12% growth rate in diesel mechanic jobs over the past ten years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Construction projects are on the rise throughout the United States, which leads to more usage for heavy-duty machinery. That means more of that machinery is going to break down. Diesel mechanics are fewer in number than auto mechanics, making it difficult for many diesel mechanic positions to be filled. In areas where there are construction booms, there are usually job openings for diesel mechanics in some kind of capacity. And with construction projects showing no signs of slowing down, this sector will continually require more diesel mechanics.

The act of being able to work on diesel engines also places this job in high demand, since there are a lot of complexities. The control systems for emissions is very complex and there are also a lot of finer points with diesel turbocharging and fuel injection systems. That has allowed diesel mechanics to be skilled in what could be considered a specialty trade. That makes their skillset unique from ordinary auto mechanics.

Diesel Mechanic Jobs by Location

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are over 278,000 diesel mechanics currently working in the United States. The population is much greater in some states. Texas is home to the highest number of diesel mechanics, with more than 26,000 individuals employed in that capacity at the present time. California is next with just over 20,000 diesel mechanics followed by New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Alaska features the highest average salary for diesel mechanics at $62,710 per year. Next in line is Washington D.C., Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming. The top 10% of diesel mechanics in each of those respective states earn a minimum of $77,250 annually and salaries can stretch as high as $84,900 annually. The incentive for overtime can also drastically increase the overall salary of a diesel mechanic. In areas where there is an abundance of work, diesel mechanics can take advantage of this bump in pay for working over 40 hours per week.

Diesel Mechanic Job Availability

Diesel mechanic jobs are available through different kinds of businesses. Truck companies and transportation service employ the highest number while the government also employs a high amount of diesel mechanics. Diesel repair service businesses are another place of employment while parts and supply companies, and the manufacturing industry each have a need for diesel mechanics. There are also a good portion of diesel mechanic jobs are part of numerous diesel industries.

A diesel mechanic has a wide range of options when it comes to employment. In addition to working on vehicles with diesel engines, mechanics can also find employment conducting repair and service on the following:

  • Support vehicles for aircrafts
  • Farm equipment
  • Construction equipment
  • Tractor trailers
  • Boats and ships
  • Fixed diesel engines

Diesel Mechanic Job Requirements

To obtain employment as a diesel mechanic, one must possess the proper set of skills, which are acquired through formal training. Most diesel mechanics go through a post-secondary school training program at a technical institute, automotive school or community college. This leads to the awarding of a certificate of completion or Associate Degree of Applied Science. Both of these distinctions are earned through the completion of coursework that is specific to a diesel mechanic. Most employers will only consider hiring diesel mechanics who have earned either of those distinctions from an accredited post-secondary institution.

There are very few diesel mechanic business that will take on apprentices, who learn through on-the-job training. This is more of an antiquated form of training that is becoming rare with each passing year. Because of all the complexities involved in diesel repair, it is important to have a certain level of technical knowledge when starting out as a diesel mechanic. This is why so many businesses place such a high value on educational training.

Some diesel mechanic jobs will require a certain amount of work experience. This requirement can be helped by selecting the right diesel mechanic education program, as there are some that offer assistance with job placement. There are even some schools that have built relationships with local businesses, many of which are frequently looking to hire new diesel mechanics. Going straight to the educational source can help these businesses address their vacancies.

In order to qualify for a diesel mechanic training program, a high school diploma or GED equivalency is typically the general criteria. Some programs may ask for placement tests and transcripts while others may be less demanding during the admissions process. The completion of an Associate Degree program generally takes two years when attending on a full-time basis. Earning a certificate of completion usually takes half as much time.

Diesel Mechanic Certifications

When searching for employment, those who hold a certification usually hold an advantage. The National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers a number of diesel certifications. A certification is earned by passing an ASE exam in each particular diesel mechanic category. However, there is a process to follow in order to become eligible to sit for one of these ASE exams. Diesel mechanics must attain a certain amount of experience before they can qualify to be eligible for one of these exams. When that work experience is sufficed, mechanics will go to a designated ASE testing center where there is a strict exam protocol. The following ASE certifications are available for diesel mechanics:

A9   Light Vehicle Diesel Engines
T2   Medium/Heavy Duty Truck Diesel Engines
H2   Transit Bus Diesel Engines
S2   School Bus Diesel Engines

There are also electrical system certifications available for diesel mechanics in each of those categories. Diesel mechanics have the option of earning ASE electrical certifications for either light vehicles, medium/heavy duty trucks, transit busses and school busses.

There is also the option to achieve a higher level of distinction. Passing one of the ASE certification tests in both the diesel engine and electrical categories will allow mechanics to take the Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist Certification Test, which carries an L2 classification. This is an upper level certification, which shows that a mechanic has the ability and knowledge to diagnose engine performance issues that are of a higher level of sophistication on both medium and heavy-duty trucks.

The importance of an ASE certification goes beyond prestige or individual accomplishment. It is a way for employers to identify potential job candidates. In many professions, the strength of a job candidate lies within his/her resume. When it comes to diesel mechanics, there is no getting around ASE certifications, as they speak for themselves.

The earning potential increases with ASE certifications and those who have accumulated a number of certifications typically find themselves earning an annual salary in the top 10% of all diesel mechanics. A fair number of employers will even require ASE certifications when listing a job opening. The first step towards earning a certification is finding a diesel mechanic school that will provide proper training and education. That can begin a whole new trajectory towards financial freedom, employment stability and job satisfaction.