All About Becoming a Diesel Mechanic in Pennsylvania
Diesel engines remain one of the most important technologies in the modern world.
Perhaps most importantly, diesel engines are utterly vital to America’s transport infrastructure, making it possible to transport goods to their destinations.
Because of this, diesel mechanics currently enjoy excellent salaries and a sustained demand for their services. Whether it is working at a major company’s garages or as the owner of a small repair shop, a diesel mechanic has a rewarding and secure career.
This is especially true in Pennsylvania, with its diverse economy and growing population.
The Diesel Engine Mechanic Careers
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there are over 242,000 diesel mechanics working in the United States.
By 2020, that number is expected to increase by at least 15 percent.
Coupled with the fact that many currently employed diesel mechanics will soon be retiring due to age and other factors, this will help drive a strong and continuing need for new diesel mechanics for the near future.
What do Diesel Mechanics Do?
Diesel mechanics diagnose, maintain and repair diesel engines of all types. In many cases, a diesel mechanic will specialize in one general type of engine, such as maritime diesels or small appliance diesel engines. Most diesel mechanics work on automotive diesel engines, ranging from commercial trucks to small car engines.
In general, diesel mechanics perform the following functions:
- Perform routine maintenance on diesel engines in order to ensure that they continue to operate at peak efficiency.
- Diagnose mechanical malfunctions using a variety of equipment.
- Repair malfunctioning diesel engines.
Since most modern diesel engines have extensive computer systems, diesel mechanics must be skilled in using electronic diagnostic systems and repairing electronic components.
In addition, most modern diesel engines must be attached to pollution control systems, which may require extra training and verification on the part of the diesel mechanic.
Most diesel mechanics work in the private sector, with about 12 percent working for various government agencies.
Diesel mechanics work in a wide range of industries, including commercial and specialized trucking. Many diesel mechanics work in small private repair shops and may either own the shop outright or own the establishment in partnership with other diesel mechanics.
Becoming a Diesel Mechanic in Pennsylvania
While Pennsylvania does not require certification or licensure for diesel mechanics, obtaining a high quality education will maximize chance of quickly finding employment.
Because of this, many individuals who are seeking to become a diesel mechanic attend diesel mechanic and technician programs.
Vocational schools, community colleges and adult education programs offer these programs which, depending on the material covered, the program format and the students schedule, can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.
In general, the student will learn diagnostic and repair techniques for a wide range of diesel engines. The program format is a combination of classroom instruction and hands on work in order to provide the student with practical experience.
In addition to full-time students, many programs make allowances for part-time students, allowing individuals who are currently working to also attend the program. However, this will result in the student taking longer to complete the program.
Finally, many programs offer online and distance learning options, which allows the student to complete coursework at home.
Distance learning allows the student to attend lectures online, review course material and even communicate with the instructors. However, some diesel mechanic classes will include a hands on component that will require the students to be physically present.
Other Types of Programs
While all diesel engines operate in the same basic way, some specialized models, such as small diesel engines, maritime engines and generators may require extra training for those working on them.
Because of this, students interested in working on these types of engines should seek out a program that provides the specialized training they will need.
Internships for Diesel Mechanics
Some programs also offer internships for qualified students. An internship is a period of working instruction where the student works with an outside organization or company while still receiving instruction. Internships have a number of advantages for their participants.
An intern will receive practical experience while working alongside trained and experienced mechanics.
In addition, many companies often hire former interns who performed well during the internship. Finally, most internships are paid positions that can help defray school and living expenses for the intern.
Advanced Training for Diesel Mechanics
In addition to basic training as a diesel repair mechanic, many diesel mechanics seek out advanced certification programs in order to enhance their skills and improve their career options.
One of the most effective ways to attain this goal is to make use of the certification options provided by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE offers a variety of certifications in areas such as drive trains, electronic engine control systems, and pollution control systems.
ASE certified diesel mechanics can often command higher wages than non-certified employees can. In addition, some businesses will prefer to hire an ASE certified mechanic in order to assure the customer that his or her vehicle is receiving the best possible care.
Becoming a diesel engine mechanic can be an excellent choice for individuals who are seeking a well-compensated and secure career. In addition to the material benefits, diesel mechanics enjoy a great deal of respect from coworkers and the general public alike.
For these reasons, this field is increasingly popular among newly graduated students and those seeking to transition to a more rewarding career alike.