The Basic Routes to Becoming a Diesel Mechanic
In today’s economy, the field of diesel engine repair and maintenance is showing robust growth, driven by a market that is increasingly finding diesel engines a fuel efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline engines.
In fact, these factors have resulted in a growing resurgence of diesel engine use in the United States, not simply among commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks and construction vehicles, but also among passenger vehicles of all sizes.
Job Opportunities for Diesel Mechanics
As of 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) determined that there were over 242,000 diesel service technicians and mechanics employed in the United States. To 2020, the BLS has estimated that the number of available jobs will increase by at least 15 percent, adding over 35,000 job openings by 2020.
The number of job openings that are available to new diesel mechanics will be further increased by attrition due to retirements and other causes.
When this is combined with the fact that according to the BLS, diesel mechanics receive a median annual salary of over $40,000, it is unsurprising that a wide range of individuals are interested in becoming diesel mechanics.
Fortunately, this field is extremely accessible for individuals who are willing to put in the effort required to become a diesel mechanic.
This is especially true due to the growing importance of environmentally friendly diesel engine technology in America.
In fact, if diesel engines continue their current rise in popularity, it is possible that the BLS may have underestimated the number of jobs that will be available in the near future.
Becoming a Diesel Mechanic
There are a number of ways to become a diesel mechanic.
It is important to note that there are no federal or state licensure laws mandating certification on the part of diesel mechanics, making it possible to become a mechanic without a formal education.
However, those considering this route should note that many employers prefer diesel mechanics that have been formally trained in this field.
Finally, due to legal reasons, most employers require that anyone seeking to become a diesel mechanic be at least 18 years of age, and also have either a high school diploma or a GED degree. In some cases, community colleges or vocational schools may allow a student to simultaneously enter a diesel-engineering program while obtaining an equivalency degree.
Informal training generally involves the individual obtaining work at a local garage as an untrained helper. While employed, he or she will be trained in diesel repair by qualified mechanics while assisting at other tasks.
As his or her skills improve, the employer will let the trainee start to work on more complex tasks until he or she is considered a fully trained diesel mechanic.
Individuals taking this route are usually paid for their labor, which can be useful for those who cannot afford the cost of a formal training program or who are currently supporting themselves.
Additionally, it allows them to take advantage of training that is offered at a working garage, which can provide the trainee with practical training that he or she would be unlikely to receive elsewhere.
However, it can be difficult to find a garage that is willing to provide training for an unskilled candidate. In addition, this type of training often takes somewhat longer than formal training programs, as the trainee must continue to perform his or her other duties in addition to being trained as a diesel mechanic. Finally, other employers may be unwilling to hire an individual without any formal certification.
Formal Diesel Mechanic Training Programs
There are a number of formal training programs offered by vocational schools, community colleges and adult education programs. Individuals entering these programs are trained by qualified diesel mechanic instructors working in well-equipped classrooms and training garages.
Most diesel repair technician programs take anywhere from six months to two years to complete, depending on the program and the student’s schedule.
Although some classes can be taken online, most programs require hands on work that demands that the student be physically present at the school.
In most cases, those students who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate documenting their achievement.
In addition to training the students in diesel engineering techniques, many schools also offer externships or internships, allowing their students to obtain practical experience while working alongside trained diesel mechanics. In other cases, a program may offer placement services, assisting its graduates in finding long-term employment after they have completed the program.
Finally, many schools are currently accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). This organization accredited diesel repair and maintenance technician programs that adhere to high standards of educational excellence.
Although this is not a requirement, employers may be more interested in hiring a job seeker who has graduated from a NATEF accredited program.
In addition, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers certification programs in a variety of diesel repair specialties, which can also improve the employment prospects for a diesel mechanic.
Ultimately, by obtaining a high-quality education in diesel repair, whatever the source, an individual can enter a well-paying and personally rewarding field.
Whether he or she works at a local garage or at a large municipal repair center, a diesel mechanic is a valued member of any repair team.
With the rising number of private diesel vehicles being purchased in America, current and future diesel mechanics alike will enjoy a growing number of job opportunities, making this field an excellent one for newly graduated adults and older job seekers alike.