How To Become A Diesel Mechanic

A diesel mechanic repairs and maintains the many diesel powered vehicles on the road today. A diesel mechanic inspects vehicles, works with diagnostic equipment, makes repairs, and does routine maintenance on vehicles. In this position you will be keeping vehicles and construction equipment safe and on the road. Diesel mechanics are an important part of the construction industry.

Why Become A Diesel Mechanic

Diesel engines are an important part of our economy. In commercial and industrial trades, diesel-powered engines are counted on to get the job done. We often see big semi-trucks hauling freight down our highways; or we see construction equipment, building new structures in our towns, fixing our city streets, and other jobs that need to be done. All of these vehicles run on diesel power, and need to be checked by a diesel mechanic when there is a problem or for regular inspections. Diesel engines are important to keep the economy running.

A diesel mechanic must be knowledgeable about the inner workings of any diesel engine. They must be able to recognize the symptoms of different problems that vehicles can have, and make a diagnosis. They must be able to make repairs and maintain vehicles. They need to have good interpersonal skills and be able to explain what is wrong with the vehicle to other people.

Occasionally mechanics may work on other diesel-powered equipment, such as buses, generators, and heavy machinery.

Diesel Mechanics should possess the following qualities and skills:

Essential Qualities & Skills For A Diesel Mechanic

If you are seeking employment within the field of diesel automotives, you should possess the following qualities and skills in order to obtain a diesel mechanic position.

  1. Dexterity Skills – Diesel mechanics must have the dexterity to coordinate the movement of their hands and fingers when working in confined areas of a diesel automotive, such as spaces within a diesel engine. It is essential to possess efficient, manual dexterity to manipulate, grasp, and assemble automotive parts and equipment.
  2. Observational Skills – As a diesel mechanic, it is imperative that you observe and identify diesel automotive components, such as gauges, engine noise, and understand if diesel components and systems are working properly.
  3. Agility Skills– Diesel mechanics must be able to utilize their agility skills to balance, reach, and climb on large, diesel automotives.
  4. Troubleshooting & Detail Skills – As a diesel mechanic, you must be able to properly evaluate and diagnose diesel system and component issues. A diesel mechanic must be incredibly detail oriented, as you may be working with dangerous or precision tools to adjust or create diesel components.

Diesel Mechanic Work Environment

Diesel mechanics will often be working indoors. Sometimes mechanics will work at a repair shop, and clients will bring their diesel-powered vehicles in to have them inspected. Other times a mechanic may travel to a location to work on a vehicle.

There are many challenges in this work environment. There are a variety of tools, which a diesel mechanic must know how to use. Repair shops can be noisy. Mechanics move under, inside, and around the vehicles and machinery. This can be a hot, dirty, and exhausting task to perform. There can be a risk of injury. Diesel mechanics will be working in a challenging environment, and are expected to be able to handle all of the tasks at hand.

Diesel Mechanic Salary

The median wage for a diesel mechanic was $44,520 annually in 2015, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Diesel mechanics who are employed by the government may be able to earn even more money. Those employed by the government made up to $49,130 in 2015. Additionally, specializations in the industry, such as heavy vehicle mechanics or railway technicians can earn even higher salaries. Such positions earned up to $48,500 in 2015.

Average Diesel Mechanic Annual Salary


The average annual salary for diesel mechanics is $48,000 a year. Salaries start at $30,400 a year and go up to $69,870 a year.

Average Diesel Mechanic Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a diesel mechanic is $23.08. Hourly wages are between $14.61 and $33.59 an hour.

Stats were based out of 260,380 employed diesel mechanics in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Diesel Mechanics

Top Paying Cities For Diesel Mechanics

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Diesel Mechanic Career Outlook

The diesel mechanic industry is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024. This is faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

The market for diesel engines is growing at a tremendous pace. Diesel engines are indispensable, as they are at the center of business, commercial and industrial trades. Many companies are finding diesel to be a great alternative to gasoline. Because of this, companies are starting to rely on diesel engines to get the job done. This growing interest in diesel ensures that there is a positive job outlook for diesel mechanics.

Diesel Mechanic Degree

There is no degree required to become a diesel mechanic. If you have a high school diploma, you can apply for a job as an assistant or an apprentice. Some higher education is encouraged if you would like to learn more about this exciting career choice.

Step 1: Consider formal education. There are many community colleges and vocational programs that offer programs in mechanics. Take a look at the universities near you and see what is available. A formal training program is a great way to learn more about this industry.

Step 2: Become trained. When you apply as an assistant or an apprentice at a repair shop, you will receive extensive training about everything in the field of diesel mechanics. You will have certain tasks, such as driving vehicles around the shop, cleaning equipment and tools, checking fuel, and more. After three or four years, you will receive a certificate of completion of your training. You will be allowed to apply for full time entry level diesel mechanic jobs.

Step 3: Become certified. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers certifications for diesel mechanics. Mechanics can be certified in specialty areas, such as preventative maintenance, collision repair, school and transit buses, and more. Diesel mechanics must pass the ASE exams to receive the certifications. These certifications often bring a higher rate of pay for diesel mechanics.

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Join The Discussion - 3 Comments

  1. Drew Harrison says:

    Being a diesel mechanic seems like a decent job! I had no idea the pay was around $40K per year. I may have to consider a career change! Great post!

  2. Bill Barnett says:

    Diesel mechanics are a little bit different than regular car mechanics. That is why I am really interested in this aspect of auto repair. I didn’t know that you could get an actual degree for this! I might just take it up as a hobby since it is a bit late for me to go back to school.

  3. Ken Broderick says:

    I live in Eastern Washington State which has a more reasonable cost of living than western Washington. I have researched what different shops charge for diesel truck repair. The going rate for diesel truck repair in this area varies from $75.00 per hour to $125.00 per hour. Considering that shops have overhead expenses, you still have to realize that $42 k per year for a diesel mechanic is a low wage. If you are a diesel mechanic with your own tools you should be able to make $50/hr minimum. You don’t necessarily have to do every repair on diesel trucks. You can specialize in different areas.

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