Becoming a Complete Truck Mechanic - Diesel Mechanic Guide
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Becoming a Complete Truck Mechanic

From a front loader on the construction site to a boat out on the lake, diesel engines play a growing part in powering vehicles for work and play. Compared to its gasoline-powered counterparts, diesel engines offer greater durability and better fuel economy, making these the engine of choice for large vehicles.

As the number of diesel-powered vehicles continues to grow, the need for diesel mechanics to repair and maintain diesel engines is growing as well. The opportunities for certified diesel mechanics, especially complete truck mechanics, are abundant as companies are looking for industry leaders to fill vacant job openings.

Educational Prerequisites

truck mechanicIndividuals interested in becoming a complete truck mechanic should begin their preparation in high school. Most schools offer classes, such as automotive repair, mechanic programs, and diesel engine repair, to help introduce students to the exciting world of automotive care. Students should also focus on taking core classes in Algebra, physics, geometry, computer, and English to prepare for post-secondary training.

While in high school, students should consider searching for co-op opportunities in the automotive industry. Companies that specialize in farming, construction, auto repair, or transportation often offer co-op positions for local high school students to work part time and gain experience in the field.

On-the-job training provides students with the specific computer and customer service skills they need to begin searching for diesel mechanic and complete truck mechanic positions. For students who are unable to locate any co-op opportunities, seeking part-time employment at gasoline service stations may provide some of the same training as co-op positions.

Post-Secondary Requirements

At minimum, individuals who wish to become a diesel mechanic or complete truck mechanic must earn their high school diploma or GED. While some entry-level opportunities are available to individuals who only have their high school diploma, most companies require potential job applicants to have some certification in auto mechanics or diesel technology. Future employers want their applicants to have either a certification or a degree in diesel technology, with these programs often offered by technical institutes, vocational schools, or community colleges.

Due to the complexity of a job as a complete truck or diesel mechanic, individuals without some formal training will often start out as mechanic or service trainees to learn the industry. As individuals gain more experience, companies will often promote service trainees to mechanic’s helpers to learn about repair and maintenance techniques.

Those without formal training will often find the road more difficult to navigate, where the hope of one day becoming a complete truck mechanic is often not promised. Rather than go this route, most aspiring complete truck mechanics decide to accelerate the process by attending a vocational school or community college to complete their certification or degree in auto mechanics and diesel technology.

Complete Truck Mechanic Certification

Individuals who are anxious to begin their career as diesel mechanics or complete truck mechanics often pursue their certificate in auto mechanics and diesel technology.

Certificate programs are designed to give individuals the hands-on training they need to apply for entry-level complete truck mechanic positions.

These programs often take one to two years to complete, depending on the structure and weekly class requirements. Most auto mechanics and diesel technology certificate programs require students to complete the following courses:

  • Customer service
  • Computers
  • Transmissions
  • Suspension
  • Alignment
  • Brake systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Physics
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Diesel mechanics
  • Automotive repair

Most certificate programs teach students how to properly use the repair and diagnostic tools they will need to be successful as complete truck mechanics. While using the tools, certified instructors train students on how to properly diagnose, service, and repair the basic mechanisms of diesel engines.

Several certificate programs have evolved the diesel technology curriculum to include courses that teach students the proper communication skills for effective relations with supervisors, coworkers, and customers.

Upon graduation from a certificate program, some students seek employment through entry-level complete truck mechanic opportunities, while others continue on with their education to pursue an associate’s degree in diesel technology.

Associate’s Degree in Automotive Repair

Individuals who pursue their associate’s degree in automotive repair and diesel technology are seeking to establish or advance their careers as complete truck mechanics or diesel mechanics.

By earning an associate’s degree, aspiring mechanics qualify for more employment opportunities and higher paying positions than a certificate in diesel technology. Some common courses in an associate’s degree program may include:

  • Diagnostic techniques
  • Power train equipment repair
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Welding
  • Hydraulics and pneumatics

An associate’s degree also offers students specific training on construction equipment, such as motor graders, scrapers, dump trucks, and front loaders. Graduates may decide to enter the workforce and search for complete truck mechanic positions or can continue to pursue their education and earn their bachelor’s degree in automotive repair and diesel technology.

Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Repair

Considered the gold standard in the automotive industry, individuals who earn their bachelor’s degree in automotive repair and diesel technology have the opportunity to advance their careers, often receiving promotions into management once they have several years of experience.

Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree have an opportunity to specialize in a certain sector of the automotive repair and diesel technology industry. Depending on the specialization, some courses in bachelor’s degree programs may include:

  • Welding
  • Advanced fuel systems
  • Diesel support systems
  • Diesel engine electronics
  • Electrical systems

Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree in automotive repair and diesel technology, aspiring complete truck mechanics can seek upper level positions that are not initially available to individuals who have only earned an associate’s degree or certificate.

With the necessary training and a desire to succeed, individuals looking to start a career in the mechanic industry will find that this sector of the economy holds exceptional job stability and the potential for growth. Those who wish to become a complete truck mechanic should consider enrolling in a certificate or degree program to get the formal training they need to thrive in this career.

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