Before spending thousands of dollars on a college education, most prudent students will check to verify that the industry they are training for is one that will still be around once they graduate.
Imagine the futility of horse buggy builders when Henry Ford first introduced his Model T or the despair of typewriter repairmen with the invention of personal computers.
With so many examples throughout history where entire industries have gone extinct, curiosity about where an industry will be 50 years from now is a thought that crosses every student’s mind at some point or another. As politicians talk about mandated green initiatives for companies across America, most aspiring diesel mechanics may wonder if there will be a diesel industry after graduation.
Although politicians may talk big, a quick look at the facts helps determine if the diesel industry is growing and what the future for diesel mechanics looks like.
Improved Fuel Economy
As diesel-powered vehicles haul more goods and produce around the world, more diesel mechanics are needed to keep these vehicles running smoothly. One of the major reasons that transportation companies opt for diesel-powered vehicles over gas-powered is because of the exceptional fuel economy that diesel fuel offers. At smaller sizes, diesel engines typically have 25 to 30 percent better fuel economy than gasoline engines.
As the vehicles become larger and the payload grows heavier, the disparity between the fuel economy of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles grows even larger. To keep transportation costs reasonable, companies utilize diesel-powered vehicles to get goods and merchandise to retailers as quickly and cheaply as possible.
With consumer spending increasing on a yearly basis, the average American is purchasing more retail goods than ever before. Diesel mechanics are required to maintain and repair the growing number of diesel-powered vehicles needed to transport these goods. As more trucks hit the road, more companies are hiring certified diesel mechanics to keep these trucks running properly.
Manufacturer to Retailer Distance
A walk down to any retail store quickly exposes hundreds of goods and products that come from countries halfway around the world. According to some estimates, over 90 percent of the products from the world’s largest retailer come from foreign manufacturing facilities. The influx of foreign-produced goods in the United States has created opportunities for transporters and diesel mechanics alike.
Decades ago, most consumer goods in retail stores were manufactured relatively close by, but today, the average product sitting on store shelves travels thousands of miles in a locomotive train car, cargo ship crate, 18-wheeler trailer, or through a combination of all three.
This increased distance from manufacturer to retailer means that diesel vehicles are putting more miles on the drive train and other components. The extra miles create more wear and tear, requiring additional diesel mechanic positions to repair and maintain the vehicles.
As this trend continues to increase, the need for additional diesel mechanics will continue to grow every year.
Political Green Initiatives
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) initially established certain regulations to lessen the reliance of the United States on oil from the Middle East. Today, the CAFE regulations mandate automotive manufacturers to increase the average fuel economy of the cars and light trucks sold.
Recent adjustments to the CAFE regulations now require a company’s average fuel economy to be at least 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. As some companies work on innovating gasoline engines to increase the vehicles’ fuel economy, others are turning to diesel engines to meet CAFE requirements.
With more passenger vehicles turning to diesel-powered engines, more and more mechanic garages need diesel mechanics to service the diesel cars and trucks that come in for repairs or maintenance. From car dealerships to two-man mechanic shops, career opportunities for diesel mechanics will continue to sprout up over the coming years.
Durability and Maintenance
Due to the higher compression requirements of diesel fuel, diesel engines are designed to withstand more wear and tear than gasoline engines. The last thing that companies transporting goods across the nation need are a fleet of gasoline-powered vehicles that require constant repair.
With durability and reliability in favor of diesel engines, companies are in constant need of certified diesel mechanics to maintain the shipping fleets.
At this time, no alternatives that provide the same benefits at the same price as diesel engines exist. The technology behind diesel engines is such that if an alternative fuel does surface and the underlying mechanics remain the same, diesel mechanics will still be able to service the engines.
Torque and Power
Diesel engines provide a greater deal of torque to the driveshaft compared to gasoline engines. While this torque is less noticeable in a passenger car, trucks delivering thousands of pounds of freight benefit greatly from the additional torque. This torque equates to more power, allowing trucks to accelerate from a standing start as well as to tow more weight than a gasoline engine. The extra power of diesel engines helps ensure that transportation companies will continue to trust any shipping needs to diesel vehicles.
Based on recent research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 250,800 Americans worked as diesel service technicians and mechanics in 2012, with the median salary being $42,320 a year.
By 2022, the diesel mechanic sector is expected to increase by nine percent, adding another 21,600 positions. Those who earn their certificate or degree in diesel technology will qualify for more employment and advancement opportunities in the mechanic industry.
While the scare tactics of some bloggers may have students worried about the growth of the diesel industry, the facts behind its continued growth and job stability have never been stronger.
Although nobody has a crystal ball to predict the future, as long as the current trend continues, the demand for certified diesel mechanics will continue to grow.
Individuals who are contemplating a career as diesel mechanics should strongly consider enrolling in a diesel technology program to earn the certification they need to succeed in this industry.