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Diesel Mechanics Career Guide

diesel mechanics
Have you been searching the internet for a diesel mechanics career guide without much luck? Does it seem when you find a page that it is full of ridiculous information that doesn’t have anything to do with your search? Are you ready to read a fairly straightforward guide that helps you understand the big picture of what a career as a truck technician is really like?

All across this great land of ours, there is a great need for qualified diesel mechanics to help keep the flow of the economy rolling along. Not every person is made to be a diesel technician since you have to be dedicated, work hard and not afraid to sweat a little bit to do the job right. America proudly has some of the best diesel mechanics in the world and if you want to know if you can join them, keep reading!

The good news is that you found this internet guide on diesel mechanics. A quick and easy to read resource on what it takes and what to expect if you choose this career. You will learn about training, skills, salary and more on this page. The more you learn, the better prepared you are to make the decision to become a diesel mechanic.

If you feel we missed an important topic or have a question about diesel mechanics, please contact us via email and we will help you the best we can.

What are Diesel Mechanics?

Diesel mechanics, also known as diesel technicians and bus and truck mechanics, are trained professionals that specialize in repairing and maintaining vehicles that rely on diesel engines for power. Many of these vehicles are used for transportation of cargo and people such as tractor trailers, buses, ships and trains. Other diesel powered vehicles are used in construction and on farms like bulldozers, road graders, combines and farm tractors.

Most diesel mechanics spend a majority of their time performing routine and preventative maintenance to ensure that these diesel vehicles are running smoothly and safely. When there is a malfunction or a breakdown, diesel mechanics must diagnose the problem and fix it quickly. The longer one of these vehicles is out of action, the more money it loses so it is very important that the job goes done fast and correct.

The job of a diesel mechanic is extremely important to the economy of our nation. By keeping the big rigs, trains and ship moving, our economy can prosper greatly. For this reason, diesel mechanics are in great demand and the pay can be very rewarding to those with the aptitude for mechanics.

EducationPersonality TraitsJob DescriptionWork EnvironmentSalary and Outlook

Recommended Education for Diesel Technicians

In the past most people who became diesel mechanics learned on-the-job through apprentice programs. While these programs are still around, it is becoming more apparent that some formal education can be more important. By getting formal training through one of the diesel mechanic schools, you may be able to stand out from the pack a bit and land the job you want.

The following is our recommendation for diesel mechanics training.

  • Diesel technician training can be found at a number of vocational schools, trade schools, community colleges and career centers
  • Most training programs offer both a certificate program and an associate degree program
  • Certificate programs can be completed in 9 to 12 months
  • These programs are seen as the minimum of formal education in today’s job market
  • Associate degree programs can be completed in 20 to 24 months
  • An associate degree can be worthwhile since it can open up more opportunities for advancement
  • Post-secondary education such as certificate and associate degrees may improve your earning potential
  • Growing number of employers look for those candidates with post-secondary education
  • While industry certifications may be voluntary, they may be required by most employers
If you want to read more about diesel mechanic schools, you can find more information on this page.

Traits and Skills of Truck Mechanics

The following are some of the important qualities, skills and traits that can make great diesel mechanics. Some of these are natural and some of these can be learned. All in all, they are seen as very positive and can help make your career in diesel mechanics a success

  • Good Dexterity: Hand-eye coordination combined with steady hands can be very useful when replacing parts, using tools, and disassembling and reassembling engines
  • Mechanical Aptitude: The trait of the basic understanding how mechanical objects work and how to use tools leads to more advanced knowledge
  • Customer Service Skills: This is the ability to take complicated or technical jargon and explain it to a layman or customer while listening and understanding their questions
  • Communication Skills: The ability to write, speak and listen fluently to customers, venders or co-workers
  • Work Ethic: Working until the job gets done and making sure that it is right including having pride in your work
  • Curiosity: The ability and desire to learn new processes, procedures, tools and keeping up with the latest trends and advances in your field
  • Problem-Solving: Quickly figuring out the right way to solve problems in the most effective amount of time
  • Judgment: Understanding the cause and effect or the costs and benefits of your actions, work and problem solving
  • Safety Oriented: Knowing what techniques and procedures are used to keep yourself and others safe
  • Detail Oriented: The ability to thorough and careful when completing a job
  • Independent Minded: You have the ability to reliably work on your own without direct supervision
  • Ice in Veins: Can deal with high stress situations without lashing out
  • Dependable: The ability to complete your obligations and responsible for your actions
  • Flexibility: The ability to deal with changes and or issues that may require you to switch what you are working on to complete a bigger or more important task
  • Stamina: Have the ability to stand or work for long periods of time without physical issue
  • Focused: The ability to ignore distractions while being focused on the job at hand
  • Excellent Memory: Being able to remember where things go, schematics, procedures or anything else in a moment’s notice
  • Body Flexibility: Having the ability to adjust your body by twisting, flexing stretching and bending to reach the areas you need to work on
  • Physically Fit: To have the strength to lift, push, move or carry objects, if necessary

Diesel Mechanic Job Description

Some of the typical jobs that diesel mechanics may handle on any given day.

  • Routine maintenance such as oil changes, tune-ups, checking and replacing of fluids, replacing windshield wipers, etc.
  • Inspect and replace the belts, hoses, spark plugs, wheel bearings, steering systems, etc.
  • Check for leaks in radiator, engine, hydraulics, transmission, etc.
  • Disassemble and reassemble of engine replacing worn parts
  • Perform alignment front end and suspension system
  • Test drive vehicles to check for performance issues
  • Grind and reset valves
  • Examine and replace damaged and malfunctioning parts
  • Speak with supervisors, read job orders and plan the priority projects
  • Check pumps, generators, clutches and rear ends for issues, repair and overhaul when necessary
  • Use computerized diagnostic equipment to diagnose problems, issues and malfunctions
  • Installation and replacement of accessories
  • Perform inspection on brake and steering systems to ensure they are up to manufacturing specs
  • Rewire and replace ignition systems, lights, instrument panels and other electric parts
  • Check emissions and adjust to meet regulations
  • Repair, adjust or replace doors, windows and seats

Where Do Diesel Service Technicians Work?

Diesel mechanics typically work in indoor garages that have plenty of light and ventilation. These areas are extremely noisy and can be dangerous if safety procedures are not followed correctly. Depending on the company they work for, some diesel mechanics may have to travel to jobsites to perform repairs. This includes roadside services and at filling stations. Most of the time this work is performed outdoors.

Most diesel mechanics work for private transportation companies. Below is a list of the top industries that hire diesel technicians.

Work Location % of Employed
Transportation and Warehousing 29%
Wholesale Trade Businesses 15%
Local, State and Federal Government 10%
Manufacturing 5%
Other 40%

Source: O*Net OnLine

Salary and Job Outlook for Diesel Mechanics

Fast Facts: Diesel Mechanics
2013 Median Pay (Yearly) $42,730
2013 Median Pay (Hourly) $20.54
2012 Number of Jobs 250,800
2012-22 Added New Jobs 21,600
2012-22 % Job Growth 9%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are There Any Certifications for Diesel Mechanics?

Although there really isn’t an industry wide certification for diesel mechanics you will find that there are few certifications that can greatly benefit your career. In some instances, employers will require that their technicians have earned one or more certifications to help maintain professionalism with their company. In the competitive job market, it is highly recommended that you at least consider earning certification from one or more of the following.

ASEFactory TrainedCDL

National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)

Diesel Mechanics CertificationNationally known for their automotive certifications, ASE offers certifications for diesel mechanics and technicians. An ASE certification is earned through an exam taken online. Some of the certification areas relating to diesel mechanics include:

  • Medium/Heavy Truck
  • School Bus
  • Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis
  • Truck Equipment Installation and Repair
  • Suspension and Steering
  • Electrical and Electronic Systems
  • Preventative Maintenance and Inspection
  • Drivetrains
  • Brakes

Factory Training

Diesel Mechanics Factory TrainedSome schools have factory training programs where aspiring diesel mechanics will get the opportunity to become an expert on specific brand. This training can be an incredible chance for you to set yourself apart from other diesel technicians. It can also create a special niche for you in almost any company as the go to person for that particular brand or make. Some of the manufacturers include:

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Diesel Mechanics CDLNot really a certification, but it can be required by some employers. In order to drive any large vehicle such as to pull it in to one of the bays or to test drive it, you need a CDL from your state. This is required by the federal government. Contact your state DMV for more information including what you must do in order to get your CDL.

Final Word on the Career of Diesel Mechanics

Not to overstate their importance, but diesel mechanics play a critical role is the economy of this country by keeping these vehicles running. For that reason, there is a pretty high demand for trained professionals to start in this career choice. If you think you have what it takes and want to have a rewarding career, then join other diesel mechanics and help make this country an economic powerhouse again!

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