Diesel mechanics and technicians specialize in identifying, diagnosing, and repairing equipment using diesel engines, such as trucks and school buses. Diesel engines continue to be incredibly popular due to their longevity, durability and efficiency, so demand for diesel mechanics remains high, and the average salary goes to show that. In addition to performing repairs, diesel mechanics are also in charge of conducting preventative maintenance on equipment. Given the typically high costs of vehicles and equipment using diesel fuel, preventative maintenance is very important.
Just as auto mechanics utilize computer equipment to diagnose issues, diesel mechanics also utilize this technology as well, and innovations in diesel mechanics are continuing to evolve each year. As these innovations occur, diesel engines maintenance is becoming more complex, as various components and parts are utilizing more advance electronics, thus it is important for technicians to stay up to date on manufacturer and mechanical information.
Training and Certification
While many diesel mechanics start with a GED or high school diploma and simply learn on the job, postsecondary opportunities do exists for employees to receive more formal, additional training. Individuals that pursue formal training often have better job prospects, an easier time finding a job, and may also receive higher pay, as employers do not have to spend time and money training them. Most formal education programs are offered by communication colleges as well as trade or vocational schools, and can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Typically, these programs are very hands-on, in addition to the classroom education they provide. Once graduates complete the courses, they are typically prepared to work on their own with little supervision, and may also be put in management positions, in which they oversee more junior technicians on the job.
Just as with auto mechanics the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the certifying body for diesel technicians, and while not required for the job, the certification with often give employees a leg up on getting hired, and may in fact be required by some potential employers.
Diesel Mechanic Salary
Relative to other mechanic jobs, diesel technicians are typically paid quite well, with salaries often above the average of all technician jobs. As of May 2010, the median salary was $40,850, with the highest salaries being in government positions ($48,070), followed by vehicle and part wholesalers ($41,070) and auto repair and maintenance shops ($38,320).
Job prospects are not quite as high as similar mechanic jobs, however diesel mechanic need is expected to grow 15% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. Diesel demand is often driven by the freight volume throughout the U.S., which is very dependent on economic conditions. Should those conditions improve beyond where they are now, it is possible that demand for diesel trucks will increase, and mechanic need will likely increase along with it.
Additionally, the lifespan of diesel engine vehicles is continuing to increase, as companies put off purchasing new vehicles to keep costs down. As such, demand will be higher for those that are qualified for both preventative care and ongoing maintenance.
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