Community colleges and private trade schools often have diesel mechanic training programs. These schools can take six months to two years to finish, and at the end you usually receive either a certificate or an Associates’ degree. Associates degrees usually require more general education like English composition and Math than certificates, which tend to focus solely on fixing engines.
Graduates of formal programs usually have better job prospects because they can move into journey-level positions fairly quickly after graduation. Later on in their careers, graduates of formal training programs are expected to learn the latest maintenance technology and techniques.
Beginners get less-skilled jobs like cleaning parts, moving the vehicles around, putting gas in the tank. Then beginners move on to be trainees, where they learn more and more complicated tasks over time. It may take four years to progress from beginner to journey-level diesel technician through on the job training.
Working as a diesel mechanic in the military will provide you with hands-on and classroom training that you can take into the private sector when you leave the armed services. The military not only provides you with free training during active duty, but as long as you are honorably discharged, you may be eligible for GI Bill education benefits once you separate.
National certification isn’t required, but it might help you get a better job later on. The National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) is the main certification body for diesel mechanics. To become certified, you have to pass a knowledge test and prove that you have worked in the field for at least two years. To stay certified, you have to take a retest every 5 years. About 385,000 automotive professionals hold ASE certifications; it is definitely an accomplishment that can make you stand out in a crowd.
High school students may be able to take automotive repair courses for free in school. Once you graduate, community colleges offer affordable education for anyone who has graduated high school or completed a GED, and you may even be eligible for financial aid. Stop by your community’s college financial aid office to talk to a counselor about your aid options. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is available online and in print at schools and libraries. Submitting this form can help you figure out what your financial aid options are. Depending on your age, income and marital status, you might qualify for grants (free money) or a low-interest loan you can start repaying after you complete your training.