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What is a Diesel Mechanic?
A diesel mechanic works with any type of automobile that uses an engine which burn diesel fuel instead of more common fuels. The construction and design of such engines varies from traditional engines, requiring additional study or experience in order to be able to repair and maintain such vehicles. These engines are usually found in trucks, buses, and occasionally older foreign cars, as well as others.
What Does a Diesel Mechanic Do?
While the typical day for a diesel mechanic looks different by industry sector and job specialty, the most basic diesel mechanic jobs encompass a core set of activities. These top 7 activities are summarized from the latest employment survey from the Department of Labor and include:
- Testing vehicles to ensure they are running properly
- Leverage manuals and work charts to manage work flow
- Communicate with vehicle owners and provide consultations
- Utilize checklists to ensure all related tasks are addressed within a job
- Identify and replace parts and assembly units
- Understand routine maintenance basics by vehicle type
- Perform inspections of engines, brakes, transmissions, steering units and related systems.
What Types of Vehicles Do Diesel Mechanics Work on?
As a diesel mechanic, you may have the opportunity to specialize in a particular type of vehicle or be generalist that works on many types of diesel engines. In either case, we have aggregated a list of common types of diesel vehicles for you to research further that include the following diesel mechanics:
Small Engine – A small engine diesel mechanic must have deep working knowledge about an array of engines. From diesel powered commercial equipment to residential diesel generators, a small engine diesel mechanic needs to be equipped to maintain and fix a variety of engines.
Fixed – A fixed diesel engine mechanic is a professional that works on a diesel engines that provide electricity. By definition, a fixed engine will provide power to a stand-alone installation or system that is not tethered to a power grid. A fixed system can be in continual use or part of an on-demand system. As a result, a fixed diesel engine mechanic would either be on-site and employed full-time or service a series of installations on an as-needed basis.
Marine – A diesel mechanic working in or around water must have a special set of skills to effectively and safely perform their jobs. The diesel engines used in marine applications will often be under stress for extended periods of time and regular maintenance becomes ever-more important to alleviate problems with the vessel. In addition, a number of boats and ships use diesel engines to drive a generator which provides electricity for the vessel. In these cases where electricity is generated by a diesel engine, a certified diesel mechanic must have acute awareness of the interrelated association between these systems.
Railroad – Akin to the marine diesel mechanic, the diesel engines utilized in railroad applications may be under stress for extended periods of time. If not managed and maintained properly, the entire system can fail and cause large-scale problems for all involved in safely transporting goods and people via rail.
Large & Commercial – Diesel repair and maintenance for both large vehicles and commercial vehicles powered by diesel engines is the most common type of discipline within the trade. Examples of large commercial diesel vehicles include long-haul trucks, buses, commercial trucks, construction vehicles, and military applications.
Diesel Mechanic Programs Near Me
Higher education institutions that offer diesel mechanic programs include a vocational school, community college, and trade school. Accredited colleges offering programs for diesel mechanics will offer students with hands-on learning combined with classroom lectures. By leveraging both types of learning modalities, you will acquire knowledge about diesel mechanics and maintenance basics and to safely apply these foundational principles in a safe environment under the tutelage of trained, certified professionals. You can quickly find a full list of community colleges and vocational programs in diesel mechanics listed below by state or school name near you.
Education in this field may begin through high schools or vocational schools that double as training centers for high school students. Others may pursue an education in the field through a community college or trade school that specializes in the field. Programs typically take between six months and two years to complete based on the type of education being pursued. Courses will be primarily taught through practical means, though some will take place in a traditional classroom. Individuals who pursue an associate's degree will also be responsible for completing general education requirements outside their major.
A curriculum may include:
- Diesel Combustion
- Repair and Maintenance
- Exhaust Systems
- Valves and Pistons
- Electrical Systems
Diesel mechanics tend to work at repair shops and repair stations as part of a team or individually in order to maintain trucks or buses as they come in or out. Individuals working at repair stations may be tasked with odd hours due to 24 hour maintenance and repair necessities. Individuals should seek out ASE Certification as soon as they qualify, which involves two years of on the job experience. Some employers may require licensure to drive trucks and buses, particularly if they need to test drive vehicles as part of their service.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth over the next decade is expected to be well above average at 12% growth as businesses continue to utilize large trucks for transport of goods and schools and cities utilize buses for transportation of people. New openings may occur due to expansion, though many positions will open due to retirement and turnover. The average salary of a diesel mechanic is $45,170 per year equating to $21.72 per hour, but can vary greatly based on location and experience.
Top States with Highest Employment of Diesel Mechanics
- Texas 26,320
- California 20,590
- New York 13,290
- Pennsylvania 12,020
- Ohio 11,570
Top 5 Highest Paying States for Diesel Mechanics
- Alaska $62,710
- District of Columbia $55,930
- Hawaii $55,510
- Nevada $55,300
- Wyoming $55,150
Additional Resources for Diesel Mechanics
- Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS)
- National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)
- Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES)
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
- Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association (AERA)
- Electric Generating Systems Association (EGSA)
- Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA)
- Electrical Equipment Representatives Association (EERA)
- Energy Information Administration (EIA)
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- National Association of Power Engineers (NAPE)
- Power Engineering Society (IEEE)
- Association for Facilities Engineering
- Truckload Carriers Association (TCA)
- Association of Energy Engineers (AEE)