Career options and outlook for diesel mechanics in the U.S.A
Diesel engines are used in thousands of buses, trucks, trains and even private vehicles and remain a common alternative to gasoline powered engines.
Due to their durability and fuel economy, these engines are more popular than gasoline engines in commercial applications, making their repair a vital part of keeping America’s transport infrastructure functioning.
Because of this, skilled diesel engine mechanics and technicians enjoy a stable and well-compensated career.
The Duties of Diesel Engine Mechanics
Diesel engine mechanics service, repair and overhaul diesel engines of all types. In most cases, diesel mechanics work in a fixed location, although some mechanics may travel to work on engines in a remote location.
Diesel mechanics are also very important for ensuring that diesel engines conform to the increasingly strict emission guidelines mandated by federal and state agencies.
Rail, Waterborne and Fixed Diesel Engines
In addition to their use on the roads of America, diesel engines are also commonly used by boats, which in many cases require an onboard diesel engine mechanic to monitor, operate and maintain the engine.
In addition, many businesses and organizations make use of backup diesel generators in order to maintain power even if the regions main power grid suffers an interruption.
In many cases, these organizations also employee on site diesel engine mechanics to ensure that their back up generators are always ready to take over from the larger power grid.
The Outlook for Diesel Mechanics
Because of these factors, diesel mechanics currently enjoy excellent career options. With a wide range of potential employment sources, in addition to a steady demand for skilled mechanics, those considering entering this field can expect to enjoy steady employment at competitive wages.
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there were at least 242,000 diesel mechanics and service technicians as of 2010. This includes both those individuals working on vehicles such as cars and trucks and diesel technicians working in other fields, for example, those maintaining fixed diesel generators.
The BLS further estimates that there will be a 15 percent increase in job openings by 2020, adding over 35,000 jobs to this field.
When combined with attrition from retirement and other sources, this increase will help ensure that there will continue to be a wide range of job opportunities for new diesel engine mechanics and technicians.
Salary Options for Diesel Mechanics
The BLS has determined that the median annual salary for diesel mechanics is nearly $41,000 as of 2010. However, this salary level can vary depending on the experience and specific field that the diesel mechanic is working in. the top ten percent of mechanics working in this field can obtain a median salary of over $60,000.
In addition, many mechanics work for an hourly wage, rather than a traditional salary. This can result in an increased income due to overtime hours, which can be very common in many areas.
However, some mechanics, especially those with families, may find extensive overtime personally and professionally stressful.
Common Employment Options for Diesel Mechanics
Diesel mechanics work in a wide range of settings, ranging from those working in large repair centers to individual mechanics working as part of a self-owned garage.
Because of that, the working conditions diesel mechanics face can vary widely. Some specific examples include the following:
Many passenger and private cargo vehicles are equipped with diesel engines and diesel mechanics working at local neighborhood garages work to maintain and repair these engines.
In addition, in states that mandate emission control systems, the mechanic may be involved in evaluating and maintaining the vehicle in order to ensure that it conforms to those standards.
These mechanics must be prepared to work on a wide range of vehicles, and must therefore be familiar with most models of domestic and foreign diesel engines. Furthermore, they must be capable of effectively informing their customers about any required repair or maintenance and providing an accurate estimate of the cost of the job.
Some of these garages may specifically serve commercial truckers, usually as a part of a truck stop. Because of the time critical nature of many shipments, diesel mechanics working in this field must be capable of quickly returning their customers’ trucks to service.
Commercial Fleet Mechanics
Many commercial cargo lines employ their own diesel mechanics. In this case, the mechanic will be focused on maintaining his company’s truck fleet, which will usually include working at a central repair depot.
This work is often more regimented then working at a local garage and the mechanic will be working with a number of other diesel mechanics. While this type of employment involves less interaction with the public, the mechanic must be able to quickly and effectively repair the company’s vehicles so that they can be returned to service.
On Site Diesel Mechanics
Many companies that have on site back up diesel generators will employ a full-time diesel engine mechanic in order to ensure that their generators are prepared to take over in the event of a power failure. This will require the mechanic to regularly test and maintain the fixed diesel engines and generators, as well as being prepared to maintain them when they are operating.
Especially for data storage centers or medical facilities, there may be very little margin for failure, requiring that the mechanic be meticulous in ensuring that the system is capable of taking over for the larger power grid.
Ultimately, diesel mechanics enjoy a well-compensated career that allows them to play a vital role in maintaining America’s transport and power infrastructure.
Whether they are working as a mechanic in a truck stop or as a train engineer, a skilled diesel engine mechanic will have a wide range of potential employment opportunities available to him or her.