Diesel mechanics and technicians repair and maintain diesel engines and machines in order to keep them running smoothly. This type of work is labor intensive and requires not only strong mechanical skills but the ability to adapt to new technology as it is used and keep up to date on changing equipment.
The average annual salary of a diesel mechanic or technician is $39,000 for entry to mid level employees while those who have more experience may earn a significant amount more. In many cases, mechanics and technicians are paid on an hourly basis as opposed to a flat salary, which can dramatically change the annual wages.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Those who work with government positions often earn higher wages than those who work at auto repair shops but this often depends upon the work performed. Some mechanics who operate their own business or work for a private establishment often will earn commissions or bonuses on their work, which can lead to a higher annual salary. Private establishments are often independent companies or auto dealers, who hire the mechanics and technicians to repair or maintain vehicles that will be sold or resold.
Mechanics and technicians who work on commission are most often guaranteed a set minimum weekly wage in order to maintain a reasonable income. In addition to the annual wages, often companies will offer compensation packages and health benefits but there are no standards set on this as some smaller companies may not be able to offer competitive health packages.
Job Description and Outlook
Diesel mechanics and technicians perform manual labor on the various parts within diesel machinery such as trucks and farm equipment. Those who work for the government or military may be responsible for the upkeep and repair of military vehicles or other diesel equipment. Changes within the industry also can create new jobs as technology advances quickly and there is a high demand for basic repairs and maintenance for all levels of vehicles and diesel machinery.
A number of positions exist for diesel mechanics and technicians though entry level can be harder to find a steady position as often the better positions are given to those with established experience and training. Some mechanics may work for a company and do freelance repairs on the side while starting out in order to not only gain more experience but earn additional income.
The outlook for those seeking employment in this field is strong as there are always positions being created. The type of machinery being worked on can also have an impact on the amount of jobs available as some types may have more opportunities than others. Replacing technicians that are retiring is another good way to find a stable position within the field of diesel mechanics and repair.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
While no formal education is required in order to become a diesel mechanic or technician, finding employment without it can be a challenge. Many businesses require their mechanics to be certified or formally trained to verify that they are current in their training and up to date on relevant machinery and skills. Those who lack formal training may be able to find work with independent firms or start their own business in order to create a career as a mechanic or technician.
Formal education is attained by attending courses offered by an accredited school such as a trade or technical college. These courses will provide opportunities to work with machinery in person and gain valuable knowledge of how they function. In addition to hands on work, books and lectures are also used to train aspiring mechanics in the various ways to repair and maintain diesel machinery.
Those who intend to start their own repair business may benefit from taking courses related to business management in order to understand how to handle the business side of the company such as bookkeeping and other financial aspects. Other important courses include basic math and advertising if applicable.
It is also possible to gain education in the field of diesel repair in high school as many offer Automotive Youth Education Service and can begin the training necessary to advance in this field. This can be useful for those who want to begin training as early as possible. This training is often considered sufficient to begin entry level positions as a mechanic or technician for many employers.
Those in high school may earn certification through the Automotive Youth Education Service program if it is is offered at their school. Other certifications include Automotive Service Excellence, which is used by those who will be working on diesel automotive machinery and it considered important for those who will work in urban areas as a mechanic or technician.
Some dealers or establishments may offer short duration degree programs that can further train or certify diesel mechanics and technicians in a particular type of machinery or technology. These types of programs can help to boost knowledge and education as well as keep existing skills sharp.
Several associations for diesel mechanics and technicians exist, from local run chapters to world wide associations. One of the largest is the Association of Diesel Specialists, who operate a worldwide trade association.