How to Become a Diesel Technician

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Have you always been interested in cars and trucks? Maybe you’re the go-to person in your family for vehicle trouble. Either way, you might be interested in a career as a diesel technician.

If so, you’re in the right place. We put together this guide to take you from start to finish on the path to becoming a diesel technician. Let’s get started.

What a diesel technician does

A diesel technician is essentially an auto mechanic that focuses exclusively on vehicles that are powered by diesel. 

They perform a wide variety of repair, maintenance, and diagnostic tasks, including:

  • Engine repairs
  • Tire rotations
  • Oil changes
  • Troubleshooting mechanical issues
  • And more

If you’d like to get a closer look at what diesel technicians do, you can take a look at our article on the subject.

How to become a diesel technician (in four steps)

Embarking on a journey towards a new career can feel daunting. But when you break it down into a step-by-step process, it can feel a bit more manageable. 

So take a look at the four steps below to learn what it takes to become a diesel mechanic. There’s a good chance that you’ve completed the first one already!

COMPLETE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION

If you haven’t done it already, the first step towards becoming a diesel technician is completing your high school education. 

It’s okay if you never earned your degree and are too old to return. You can also get a qualification like a GED to prove your competency.

Employers like to see this because it shows that you have a baseline level of education. And since you’re going to be competing with applicants who have high school diplomas, you don’t want to give potential employers this reason to screen out your application.

If you’re still in high school, then you can start trying to take classes now that will prepare you for this job in the future. Automotive courses can help you develop the foundational skills that you need to excel as a diesel technician in the future.

PURSUE A CERTIFICATION OR AN ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE

The next step towards becoming a diesel technician is pursuing post-secondary training in the form of either an associate’s degree or certification. 

There are lots of excellent schools that offer specialized training for mechanics. They’ll teach you everything that you need to know about the specific type of work that you’d like to do as a mechanic, including:

  • How to use the tools that you’ll use on the job
  • How to read technical documents
  • Strategies for troubleshooting different types of mechanical issues
  • The skills that you need to work independently in a professional setting

TRAIN ON-THE-JOB

Next, all new diesel technicians need to spend some time learning the trade on the job––there’s just no substitute for working closely with experienced technicians and listening to what they have to teach you. 

This method of learning by doing is one of the most effective ways to pick up a new skill or trade.

Even if you attend a post-secondary institution to study this trade, you’ll still likely need some on-the-job training. The time that you spend training will just be less than someone with no post-secondary education.

It usually takes about 3-4 years of total training before a trainee diesel technician can officially be called a journeyman.

PURSUE LICENSES AND CERTIFICATIONS

You may also want or need to pursue a license or a certification as a diesel technician. Organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offer licenses and certifications that prove your qualifications.

Earning one of these can help you stand out from other workers so that you have a better chance of scoring a high-paying job.

Depending on where you work, you may also need to earn a certification or license to complete certain types of work. So be sure to look into your local requirements to verify what you need.

truck on highway during daytime

Factors to consider before becoming a diesel technician

If you’re seriously thinking about becoming a diesel technician, then there are a few things you should be aware of before committing. Take a look at the following pros and cons of this career path.

NORMAL HOURS

Many jobs require people to work either long hours or at odd times, such as on the weekend and at night. But that’s not really an issue for diesel technicians.

Most diesel technicians work standard 40-hour work weeks from about 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. That leaves you plenty of time to connect with your family and enjoy your hobbies.

AVOID STUDENT LOAN DEBT

Another cool thing about this career path is that you don’t need to earn a bachelor’s degree to pursue it. That means you can avoid a ton of student debt while still getting to have an interesting and rewarding job.

On top of that, the average salary for a diesel technician is just over $50,000. While the average salary for someone with a college degree is only $3,000 more.

So your average earning potential is nearly identical to someone who has a bachelor’s degree but you don’t have to take on any debt while they likely will.

POTENTIAL TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS

If you’d like to be your own boss one day, then becoming a diesel technician could be a good move. Many technicians decide to start their own garages after spending some time working for an employer.

ENJOY SOLVING TOUGH TECHNICAL PROBLEMS

This career could also be great for you if you’re someone who finds solving tough technical problems rewarding. 

As a diesel technician, you’ll get to troubleshoot various types of mechanical issues and come up with creative solutions for repairing them. If that sounds like a dream come true to you, then this could be your ideal job.

LIMITED POTENTIAL FOR ADVANCEMENT

One thing to keep in mind before choosing this career path is that there is limited room for advancement. You may be able to become a supervisor or a manager at your garage, or perhaps even start your own company one day.

But, beyond that, there isn’t much room for growth. That means your long-term earning potential could be lower as a diesel technician than it would be in other fields.

WORK ENVIRONMENT CAN BE CHALLENGING

It’s also worth mentioning that a diesel technician’s work environment isn’t always the best. Garages can be noisy, dirty, and cramped. If you think that you’re likely to be annoyed by these types of things, then another career may be a better option for you.

Is this career right for you?

So what’s the bottom line? Should you become a diesel technician or would it be better for you to pursue another career? Here’s how to make a decision.

KNOW YOUR LONG-TERM FINANCIAL GOALS

The first part of making your decision is having a good understanding of your financial goals. The average diesel technician makes $50,200 per year. Is that a number that will allow you and your family to live comfortably?

If the answer to that question is yes, great. This could be a good career for you. But if you’re not so sure, then you may want to do a little more research to figure out if you can either make that salary work for you or find a way to earn more than average as a diesel technician.

UNDERSTAND YOURSELF

It’s also important to have a strong understanding of who you are and what you want out of life before picking a career. The most rewarding jobs are those that align with our goals. If you would just be doing this type of work for a paycheck, then it may not be something that you stick with long-term.

CONSIDER YOUR ALTERNATIVES

Finally, you’ll also want to think about what your alternatives are before picking this career. Some people won’t have very many alternatives to choose from and that can make the decision to become a diesel technician an easier one to make.

Or maybe you’re deciding between this career and several other alternatives that you find equally interesting. If so, you’ll want to compare the pros and cons of each option as you zero in on a final decision. Simply writing these down for each job choice can help quite a bit.

Find your next diesel technician job through Rock the Trades

If you’ve made the decision to become a diesel technician, congratulations! This could be the first step to a really rewarding career.

When you’re ready to start looking for jobs, Rock the Trades is here to help. We automatically connect you with employers in your area who are looking for workers with your qualifications.

Download the RTT app today to get started.

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