Diesel engines are more efficient and durable than the small engines in passenger cars. As a result, the big engines don’t break down as often and they require less emergency repair than passenger vehicles. As the economy worldwide recovers, the number of jobs for diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow. If you check the trucking job board, you will see lots of current openings.
On the bright side, opportunities should be very good for people who complete a certified diesel mechanic school program, because the techniques they learn in school set them apart from their peers.
As a diesel mechanic, you can work in a range of different places. You could help maintain a large fleet of commercial trucks or work in an auto repair shop. According to the BLS, diesel service technicians and mechanics held about 274,800 jobs in 2015. About 17 percent of these workers were employed by the trucking industry, eight percent worked for automotive repair shops and the rest worked in other sectors like construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, and automotive leasing. Less than 10% were self-employed. Diesel technicians can find work just about anywhere in the country, but there are more jobs in cities where trucking companies and bus lines are headquartered.
If you work for a company with a large fleet, you will probably spend most of your time doing preventive maintenance and a small amount of time diagnosing problems and making repairs. The more advanced these engines become, the more important it is to be computer-savvy: you will probably use computers and other technology to figure out what is wrong with an engine.
Most diesel mechanics work a standard 40-hour week, but some people work longer hours, especially if they are self-employed or if their shop is short-staffed. The salary for diesel mechanics is good and most jobs include benefits. Most shops are well-lit, clean and well-ventilated, but some are drafty and loud. Fixing engines is physical work. You will have to move heavy items, lie under trucks, and you might burn, cut or scrape yourself, but if your shop adheres to standard safety practices, you should not sustain major injuries at work.
Many employers prefer to hire drivers who are at least 18 years old and can pass a drug test. Tip: check into diesel mechanic apprenticeships if you’re just starting out. Also, it helps to have a CDL so that you can test drive vehicles on the road, and if you have experience working with engines in any previous job, as a hobby, or in the military, that’s an added bonus.