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What does a Diesel Mechanic or Diesel Technician do?

Diesel Mechanics, or Diesel Technicians are in high demand. They work on cars, trucks – or anything with a diesel engine. As a Diesel Mechanic, you’ll inspect, service and repair agricultural equipment, construction vehicles, boats, cranes and even power generators. Diesel Mechanics are the people who make sure the machines that help us meet our most basic needs keep running. Your job literally safeguards machines that grow food and transport it to communities across the country.

With diesel powering so much of the heavy machinery used in industries like transport, auto, manufacturing, and air travel, your skills will be needed to diagnose faults as well as carrying out the proper maintenance and overhauling of various types of diesel engines. You’ll also be required to run an engine performance test on anything you fix.

Your job will see you working in repair shops, on the roadside or on worksites using power machine tools, like lathes, grinding machines, welding equipment and pneumatic tools. It’s work that’s becoming more complex, as engines and other components begin to use more electronic systems to do the work. In many workshops, Diesel Mechanics will often use laptops to diagnose problems and adjust engines. While employers usually provide the expensive power tools and the computerized, specialist equipment, most mechanics acquire their own hand tools over time.

SkillPointe can show you what to expect day to day, how much you’ll earn as a Diesel Mechanic, and show you what it’s like to get trained up and find a job. If you want to find out how to start a career in this industry, read on.

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$ 30,000 - $ 74,000
$ 49,000
24,100+
Diesel mechanic inspects a truck engine
As a Diesel Mechanic, you’ll also need to be technically focused.
A Day In the Life
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Drake Davis, diesel mechanic and instructor, works with a student to install king pins and spindles on a F100 Truck
A Day In the Life

Drake Davis has always loved fixing things. He turned a love for working with his hands into a career path, working on all types of agricultural equipment for Bane-Welker in Indiana.

And he's doing his part to bring others down that path with him.

"If you like working with your hands, like mechanics, like challenges, and like a fast-paced environment, this is the career for you," says Drake, who also became a high school instructor in 2020.   

He says he loves giving back and providing the mentoring that helped him along the way. Plus, he gets to keep on learning, which is important in an industry changing so dramatically with new technology.

Find out what else Drake has to say about being a diesel mechanic.

FAQs about becoming a Diesel Mechanic

What are the job responsibilities of a Diesel Mechanic?

  • Consult with customers and determine work required
  • Plan jobs – using technical charts, schematics, and manuals
  • Carry out thorough inspections of vehicle systems – including steering and brakes
  • Identify mechanical issues by reading and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Follow checklists and examine critical parts
  • Diagnose engine fault codes, wiring diagnostics, air brake systems, exhaust filtration and regeneration systems
  • Perform basic maintenance – including changing oil, checking fluid levels and tire quality
  • Carry out in-depth repairs
  • Repair or replace malfunctioning parts, other mechanical or electrical equipment
  • Test-drive vehicles to ensure they work and run properly

What are the entry level requirements for a Diesel Mechanic job?

You’ll need to have a High School Diploma for an entry-level job. While most employers offer on-the-job training lasting three to four years, some prefer workers with knowledge of repairing diesel engines. High school courses like automotive repair, electronics, engineering, and math can help anyone interested in this career to get ahead. Boost your qualifications out of high school by completing training in these areas. Some Diesel Technicians are required to test-drive trucks or other vehicles, so a commercial driver’s licence is useful, too.

What qualifications do I need?

Get certified or earn your associate degree at one of the top training schools in the country. Community colleges and trade schools offer degree programs specializing in areas of training – these last around 24 months. You’ll get a mix of hands-on experience, including learning the basics of diesel tech, repair, and equipment - as well as how to read technical manuals and diagnostic reports.

How do I find a job?

Find a Diesel Mechanic or Diesel Technician apprenticeship through an employer and learn on the job in a workshop. There are advantages to training this way, like polishing your skills and taking on work through your employer. Getting training through a brand-specific diesel engine repair program is another, and sometimes shorter, route to employment.

Is being a Diesel Mechanic a secure job?

There are plenty of job opportunities in this industry. By getting certified by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) you’ll elevate your career potential, improve your chances of getting noticed by an employer and even earn more. If you want to broaden your area of expertise, look to train in Aircraft Repair, or consider becoming a Heavy Diesel Mechanic.

For any Diesel Technicians working in specific repair areas – like electronic systems or drivetrains - you’ll need to earn a certification.  With two years of on-the-job work experience, you’ll be required to pass just one or more ASE exam. This type of certification needs to be revisited every five years to keep you up to date.

Is there a demand for Diesel Mechanics?

The future for Diesel Mechanics and Diesel Technicians looks good, with employers actively looking for skilled workers to fill open jobs right now. The great news for this industry is it’s expected to grow. With many Diesel Mechanics working for organizations that service customers operating fleets, it’s a stable environment - whatever area you specialize in. Many Diesel Mechanics work regular business hours. Many repair shops run their business out of hours, so you might need to work some evenings and weekends. Businesses like truck and bus repair shops are open 24-hours. With so much overtime available, a Diesel Mechanic can work more than 40 hours a week.

What will I get from being a Diesel Mechanic?

For businesses, time is money. Your customers will look to you for valuable knowledge and expertise. A good Diesel Mechanic will strive to get the work done as efficiently as possible, can quickly identify problems and knows how long each job will take. As the first person to diagnose an issue, your job is to understand your customer’s needs - whether it’s a minor repair or something more critical. An eye for detail to notice the small things others might miss will help you get the job done first time for customers, without the need for them to keep coming back. This can mean explaining issues to someone who isn’t a trained Mechanic. Communication skills are often underestimated, but every Diesel Mechanic needs to have them.

As an entry-level Diesel Mechanic or Technician your pay is tied to your skill level. As your experience and skillset grow, so will your earnings. The best mechanics stay on top of the latest technology and developments in their field – adapting your skills will help you go further in your career. Gaining more experience means your customers will get the best of your knowledge.

What skills do I need to be a Diesel Mechanic or Diesel Technician?

You Could Be a Good Fit for These Positions If You:

  • Are detail-oriented
  • Can think on your feet
  • Are good with machinery
  • Can manage your time well
  • Have excellent problem-solving and organization skills
  • Like working with changing technology
  • Have good hand-eye coordination
  • Are a good communicator
  • Are adaptable
  • Work well with others
  • Are safety conscious

 

The lowdown on a career as a Diesel Mechanic

If you want to specialize in an area, you can train to become an Aircraft Repair or Heavy Diesel Mechanic. As an FFA-Certified Aviation Maintenance Technician (or AMT) your job will be highly technical. AMTs are responsible for keeping US aircraft operating and running smoothly. Get certified by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) through an approved school or experience in the field. You’ll need to complete two certificates – one in Power Plant and one in Airframe. Some Aircraft Repair Mechanics branch into airships, helicopters, and unmanned aircraft systems. Heavy Diesel Mechanics work on oil rigs, hydraulic systems, trucking, logging and construction and farming. Most Heavy Diesel Mechanics or Technicians study for a degree – like an Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Technology program.

Working in a field that uses heavy parts and tools and typically greasy or dirty equipment, you’ll need to make sure you follow the safety precautions your organization has in place. Keeping service records and ensuring the summaries are completed thoroughly is an important part of the job. You’ll need to know how to trace fault codes and rectify them, and interpret and prepare maintenance records, too. Keeping your toolbox and parts clean and organized is important for every mechanic - so you’re always ready for that next service call.

As a Diesel Mechanic your team skills will come into play. You’ll be working with everyone from your co-workers on the shop floor to your managers and clients. Diesel Mechanics are great problem solvers. Being able to discuss issues and bounce your ideas off your teammates is often the key to finding the best outcome. Relying on the expertise of another person to figure out a problem is common, like collaborating with engineers from other companies who’ve been brought in to provide long-term solutions for customers. For Diesel Mechanics with a passion for fixing things and learning new skills, a huge benefit of the job is the variety of work and locations. From inspecting equipment or repairing machines to taking a service call on site, no two days are the same.

Working on so many different types of machines, drawing on your experience will help you get the job done. You’ll find there are always opportunities to think creatively. This is a satisfying job with great career opportunities and a solid entry-level pay check.

To find out more about how to get the right training for you, check out our How to Become a Diesel Mechanic page.

 

Also, check out other great jobs in Transportation>
The lowdown on a career as a Diesel Mechanic

Diesel Mechanic Training in Your Area

Coordinates
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College logo

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University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
North Little Rock (248.8 Miles)
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College logo

Diesel Technology Certificate

University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
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Green Diesel Technology, Certificate

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Lincoln Tech logo

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Diesel and Truck with Automotive Technology Diploma Program - Grand Prairie

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Des Moines Area Community College logo

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Des Moines Area Community College
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Des Moines Area Community College logo

Diesel Technology, A.A.S

Des Moines Area Community College
Ankey (338.2 Miles)
Northeast Community College logo

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Northeast Community College
Norfolk (354.2 Miles)
Northeast Community College logo

Diesel Technology - Truck, A.A.S.

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Amarillo College logo

Diesel Technology- Basic Certificate

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Find Diesel Mechanic Jobs in Your Area

Coordinates

Maintenance Technician I

National Express Corporation
Greensboro ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 year 1 month ago

Field Service & Technical Advising Specialist

Wabtec Corporation
Remote ( 0.0 ) Miles
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National Express Corporation
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School Bus -Head Mechanic

Bensenville School District
Bensenville ( 0.0 ) Miles
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Service Employee/ Shop Hand TOP PAY!!!

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Coffeyville - Lead Automotive & Diesel Technician

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Estes Express Lines, Inc.
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Plug Power Inc.
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