Chances are that every item on the shelf of any given local store has spent at least part of its life in the back of a diesel-powered truck.
A large majority of transportation vehicles have diesel engines because of the increased durability and fuel mileage they offer.
As the nationwide need for companies to ship items increases, so does the demand for diesel mechanics to help service and maintain the growing fleet of diesel-powered vehicles.
The same story holds true for companies in Montana, with many companies having trouble finding certified diesel mechanics to fill their ever-growing demand.
As with most certifications or degree programs, vocational schools and community colleges require certain educational prerequisites to be met by future students before they can enroll in the diesel technology program.
Almost all colleges and institutes that offer diesel technology programs require their students to have obtained either their GED or high school diploma.
Some better known schools require that their students have taken certain high school courses, with the most common being two years of math and science and four years of English.
Even though the need for diesel mechanics in Montana is higher than it has ever been, most companies looking for diesel mechanics are seeking individuals who are either certified or have their degree in diesel technology.
In an attempt to keep up with their demand, some employers offer certification courses to potential job candidates who may have no formal education, with this situation being the exception rather than the norm.
For diesel mechanics who are serious about their careers, earning a certification or degree in diesel technology is the recommended way to show future employers their dedication.
A large number of community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes have certification programs in diesel technology, and some schools have even expanded their programs to include associate and bachelor’s degree programs for dedicated students.
Before enrolling in any college, students should research the school they are wishing to attend to verify that the school has been properly accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), as this accreditation prepares students for obtaining future certification in a specialized sector of this industry.
As with most associate’s degree programs, the amount of time the typical student takes to complete the Associate of Science in Diesel Technology is anywhere from two to three years.
For the bachelor’s degree program, the length of time to complete the program doubles, with most students requiring four to five years of dedicated study to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Diesel Technology.
For students looking to earn their degree as quickly as possible, an associate’s degree in diesel technology is the preferred option. Since the program is abbreviated, most of the coursework is done in a lab or garage setting, with instructors teaching students how to maintain and repair diesel engines through hands-on experience.
An example curriculum for students in the diesel technology program includes courses like:
- Power trains
- Fuel systems
- Diesel engine technology
- Heavy duty brakes
- Electrical systems
- AC systems
- Power transmissions
For students who have career aspirations to be in management one day, a bachelor’s degree in diesel technology helps mechanics stand out when promotion opportunities become available at the diesel corporation.
This program goes much deeper than its associate’s degree counterpart does, with most courses covering the methodologies and fundamentals of diesel engines. This deeper understanding allows for a better diagnosis and repair.
Typical courses for the bachelor’s degree in diesel technology cover:
- Diesel electrical systems
- Diesel fuel systems
- Diesel shop management
- AC and heating systems
- Diesel engines lab
- Hydraulics and pneumatics
- Welding theory
- Heavy duty automatics
Certification in Montana
Although the state of Montana does not require diesel mechanics to gain special certification in order to work legally, employers want qualified and certified candidates to fill the vacant job openings.
Some employers are willing to overlook certification requirements if a candidate has several years of on-the-job training, but as advancement opportunities within the company become available, employers will likely promote diesel mechanics who are certified in diesel technology through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
Diesel mechanic students who earn a diesel technology degree increase their likelihood of landing a higher paid position right out of college.
According to a study issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), companies in Montana currently have 1,100 diesel mechanics on the payroll who are earning roughly $38,920 a year on average.
The growth rate for this industry is very promising, with growth expected to hit 15 percent between until 2020. This predicted increase is expected to add over 35,000 new diesel mechanic jobs to the United States, opening up many career opportunities for today’s diesel technology students. Potential openings may include:
- Municipal diesel mechanic
- Diesel repair shop owner
- Shipping fleet repair and maintenance
- Large equipment repair
- Charter bus diesel mechanic
The demand for certified diesel mechanics in Montana is stronger now than it has ever been. For individuals looking to take their career to the next level and become diesel mechanics, now is the time to consider enrolling in a diesel technology program.