With the ever-increasing need for supplies to be transported across land and over water, more diesel-powered vehicles are hitting the streets.
Companies are expanding their shipping fleets to help keep up with the recent uptick in the economy, meaning that consumers are purchasing more goods and items.
As the economy evolved into a global marketplace over the last 30 years, goods that used to travel only a few miles from manufacturer to retailer are now traveling thousands of miles to reach store shelves.
Transportation companies in Kentucky are having a difficult time finding enough certified diesel mechanics to properly maintain and repair diesel engines.
Individuals who earn their certificate or degree in diesel technology often have their pick of employment opportunities after graduation, with job stability a plus in this industry.
Before individuals can enroll in a vocational institute or community college to complete their diesel technology degree, most schools have certain education prerequisites that all students must meet before they will be allowed to enroll.
The most common prerequisite is that every applicant must earn a high school diploma or GED prior to applying. Some community colleges take this prerequisite one step further by requiring future students to present their high school transcripts.
The admissions staff will review the transcripts to make sure that students have successfully completed four years of high school English and two years of high school math and science.
It is recommended that aspiring diesel mechanics earn either their certificate or degree in diesel technology prior to applying for any diesel mechanic positions.
In an attempt to help meet the need for diesel mechanics, some proactive companies offer employer-sponsored classes to new hires who are not certified; however, most companies require potential candidates to hold some form of certification before they apply for the open position.
Depending on the vocational institute or technical school, a certificate in diesel technology can take one to two years to complete. Earning a certificate in diesel technology allows individuals to apply for entry-level positions with most companies in Kentucky.
Students who wish to start out with a higher pay grade should earn either an associate or bachelor’s degree in diesel technology. For most students, earning an Associate of Science in Diesel Technology takes anywhere from two to three years to complete.
Students who are hoping to graduate with their Bachelor in Science in Diesel Technology can expect to spend four to five years in school. Before enrolling, students should review their school’s accreditation to make sure the college is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), which will prepare them for ascertaining their certification after graduation.
An associate’s degree in diesel technology is designed to provide students with all of the hands-on training they will need to successfully diagnose and repair common problems with diesel engines.
Most of the courses take place in a garage or lab setting, allowing instructors to demonstrate how to repair and maintain diesel-powered vehicles.
Some potential courses for those enrolled in this degree program include:
- Fuel systems
- AC systems
- Diesel engine technology
- Power trains
- Heavy duty brakes
- Power transmissions
- Electrical systems
Students who earn their associate’s degree in diesel technology may decide to enter the workforce right away or go on to pursue their bachelor’s degree.
The bachelor’s degree teaches students about the core fundamentals of diesel engines, allowing them to make a better diagnosis of malfunctioning systems. Students need to complete their general education coursework, which includes courses on natural sciences, Algebra, and humanities, before graduating from this degree program.
Courses may also cover:
- AC and heating systems
- Welding theory
- Diesel shop management
- Heavy duty automatics
- Diesel fuel systems
- Diesel electrical systems
- Diesel engines lab
- Hydraulics and pneumatics
Certification in Kentucky
Companies that are seeking to fill vacant diesel mechanic positions will likely require potential candidates to be certified in diesel technology, even though Kentucky does not require diesel mechanics be specially certified to work legally in the state.
By earning a certificate or degree in diesel technology, mechanics prove that they are serious about their career to future employers.
Diesel mechanics can become certified by taking an exam through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which tests individuals over certain areas of diesel technology, such as preventative maintenance, steering systems, and brakes.
Career Outlook Now and the Future
According to studies conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), companies throughout Kentucky currently employ 4,170 diesel mechanics, with the average salary being $37,670 a year.
The BLS estimates that employment growth in this sector of the economy is likely to grow faster than average, with expected increase of 15 percent to create 35,200 more diesel mechanic positions nationwide.
Some of the employment opportunities may include:
- National Shipping Companies: Retailers and manufacturers around the country will require more goods to be shipped to keep up with consumer demand, and national shipping companies will need additional diesel-powered vehicles and diesel mechanics to keep the shipping fleets running smoothly.
- Charter Bus Mechanics: With more Americans reaching retirement age every year, the vacation of choice for many will be charter bus tours. Additional buses will be needed to meet the demand, requiring more diesel mechanics to help service and repair the growing fleet.
- Local Garages: Large and small diesel repair shops will experience an uptick in business over the next ten years due to the growing number of diesel-powered vehicles on the road. This growth will create more diesel mechanic positions for today’s students.
As the economy continues to rebound and grow, the demand for certified diesel mechanics in Kentucky will also rise.
Individuals who are looking to join this exciting industry should strongly consider enrolling in a diesel technology program, which will greatly increase their employment and advancement opportunities.