Every day on highways around the country, the roar of diesel trucks bringing new life back to the economy can be heard. As consumer spending increases, the need is expanding for additional diesel-powered vehicles to help drive this growth.
With shipping and transportation companies throughout Wisconsin increasing the number of diesel fleets to transport goods to retailers, the demand for certified diesel mechanics to help maintain and service these vehicles is growing exponentially.
Businesses are already having difficulty finding certified diesel mechanics, and the optimistic outlook for the diesel industry means that the search is only going to become more difficult.
With the right educational training, individuals seeking to start a career as diesel mechanics will find that opportunities abound at mechanic companies in Wisconsin.
Before a community college or technical institute allows individuals to enroll in a diesel technology program, applicants need to meet all of the prerequisites.
The first and foremost prerequisite is that future students must have earned a high school diploma or GED before applying to the course.
Individuals will find that the prerequisites of state universities and colleges are even stricter, with many requiring students to have completed four years of high school English and two years of high school math and science before they are considered eligible.
Although some businesses waive the certification requirements for applicants who can demonstrate several years of diesel mechanic experience, most companies require some form of certification before applying.
In an effort to meet the growing demand for certified diesel mechanics, some companies in Wisconsin sponsor certification courses to properly train and educate applicants who do not have any formal training.
While this option is gaining popularity, most companies prefer all certification and educational requirements to be addressed prior to hiring.
Upon finding a potential school to attend, individuals need to verify that the program is accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), which will prepare them for additional certification after graduation. Most schools with this accreditation offer two different degree options – an Associate of Science in Diesel Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Diesel Technology – to prospective students.
Associate of Science in Diesel Technology
Students who decide to earn their associate’s degree will spend two to three years in the program. Offering a balance between education and work experience, an associate’s degree in diesel technology provides students with the hands-on experience they need to qualify for entry-level diesel mechanic positions.
The curriculum focuses on teaching students how to properly diagnose and repair common diesel engine problems, providing the basic groundwork should students decide to further their education upon graduation.
Some of the coursework may cover:
- Power transmissions
- AC systems
- Fuel systems
- Heavy-duty brakes
- Diesel engine technology
- Electrical systems
- Power trains
Bachelor of Science in Diesel Technology
Individuals who wish to advance into upper management at some point in their career typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in diesel technology. Not only will students learn the basics of diesel engine repair, but they will also discover the internal technology and science behind how diesel engines work. While some of the classes are held in a lab or garage setting, most courses in the bachelor’s degree program take place in a lecture hall.
In addition to the courses needed for the associate’s degree, the following courses are also required:
- Diesel electrical systems
- Hydraulics and pneumatics
- Welding theory
- Diesel shop management
- Diesel fuel systems
- Heavy-duty automatics
- AC and heating systems
- Diesel engines lab
Certification in Wisconsin
Companies with current diesel mechanic job vacancies prefer to hire those who have earned their certificate, even though Wisconsin does not require diesel mechanics to be licensed to legally work in the state.
While a degree in diesel technology opens up doors to entry-level diesel mechanic positions, individuals who wish to start out at a higher pay level or position can earn special certifications throughout their careers.
Diesel mechanics who have several years of experience can obtain a certification offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE certification demonstrates to employers that diesel mechanics are proficient in preventative maintenance, brakes, electrical systems, and steering systems.
Recent research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that about 6,080 diesel mechanics are employed throughout Wisconsin, and economists predict that the growth rate for the diesel mechanic industry will be faster than the national average, adding approximately 21,600 new diesel mechanic positions across the United States. The BLS reports that diesel mechanics in Wisconsin earn an average wage of $41,130 annually, allowing them to choose from the following career opportunities:
- Urban Transit Systems: As part of environmental initiatives, many cities will look to expand public transportation systems over the next ten years. More urban transit companies will hire diesel mechanics to help service the growing municipal fleets around Wisconsin.
- Couriers and Express Delivery Services: With the e-commerce industry predicted to grow exponentially, local delivery companies will need to grow their shipping operations to get products from website retailers to customer in a timely manner. As these companies grow and more delivery vehicles are added, additional diesel mechanics are needed to keep the operations in optimal functioning condition.
- Local Garages: Diesel repair shops will need to hire additional certified diesel mechanics to help keep up with the growing number of diesel-powered vehicles on the roads.
The need for certified diesel mechanics is expected to increase dramatically over the coming years for businesses in Wisconsin. With economists forecasting a faster-than-average industry growth over the next ten years, individuals who have not started their diesel mechanic certification still have time to enter this fast-paced industry.
Those who are interested in becoming certified diesel mechanics should strongly consider earning a diesel technology degree to increase their chances of career success.