What is a Diesel Technician?

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Diesel-powered vehicles play a crucial role in the United States’ transportation infrastructure. Without things like buses and 18-wheel trucks, it’d be really tough for people and items to get where they need to go reliably.

That’s why diesel technicians are so important. Maybe you’ve heard of the job and want to learn more about it so you can figure out whether you’d like to pursue it.

If so, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about diesel technicians.

What is a diesel technician?

A diesel technician is basically an auto mechanic who works on diesel-powered vehicles instead of gasoline-powered ones. 

They work on consumer vehicles that take diesel as well as larger diesel-powered vehicles, such as buses and 18-wheel trucks, among others.

Diesel technician role and responsibilities

Workers in this role complete a wide variety of tasks related to the inspection, maintenance, and repair of diesel vehicles. Here’s a sampling of some of their most common responsibilities:

  • Perform, read, and interpret diagnostic tests to determine the status of various parts of the vehicle
  • Use a wide variety of tools to carry out repairs when necessary
  • Perform routine maintenance tasks like oil changes and tire rotations
  • Test-drive vehicles after you complete the work they need to make sure they run smoothly
  • Consult with customers to troubleshoot issues and explain solutions
  • Maintain detailed documentation of tasks completed

If you become a diesel technician, you may complete some of these tasks more than others. What your days look like will depend on the exact role that you take on and the employer that hires you.

Working conditions

Most diesel technicians work in repair shops. These are generally clean and safe environments but can get noisy. 

Additionally, these workers use a lot of powerful tools and may have to work in uncomfortable positions. These factors make issues like sprains and cuts the most common injuries for diesel technicians.

Most of these employees work a standard 40-hour workweek. But some may be on-call for emergencies or have to work nights, weekends, or early mornings depending on their employer’s needs.

Salary expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for diesel service technicians and mechanics is $50,200. That comes out to approximately $24.13 per hour.

But there are lots of different factors that can influence the exact amount that you can earn in this role. We’ll take a look at some of the most important ones in this section.

TYPE OF EMPLOYER

The specific industry that your employer operates in could have an impact on how much you can expect to earn as a diesel technician. For example, take a look at this earnings data from the BLS:

  • Local government – $59,790
  • Wholesale trade – $51,910
  • Automotive repair and maintenance – $47,730
  • Truck transportation – $46,390

You can see that there’s a swing of over $10,000 per year for diesel technicians who work in different industries. This suggests that, if you have this job, you may be able to maximize your earning potential by seeking out jobs in local government.

LOCATION

Where you’re looking for work as a diesel technician can also play a huge role in determining how much you make.

For example, according to the BLS, diesel technicians in Massachusetts earn an average salary of $62,800 per year. But those in Arkansas earn an average of $42,580 per year.

This data indicates that you could earn more as a diesel technician if you’re willing to be geographically flexible to find the highest-paying job opportunities.

EXPERIENCE

The general rule of the workplace applies to diesel technicians as well. Those who have the most experience tend to command the highest salaries from employers.

That’s because employers are willing to pay more for workers who can handle more responsibilities on their own and supervise others. So you should be able to start earning more as a diesel technician as you progress in your career.

Future outlook

One check you want to make before entering into a new career is what future employment opportunities in the industry will look like. For example, if employment numbers are declining rapidly, that’s a sign that it may be really hard for you to find a job in an industry.

But that’s not an issue for diesel technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the demand for these workers should grow by about 8% from 2020 to 2030, which is as fast as average.

That means you can enter into this line of work without having to worry about employment opportunities going away in the next decade.

Becoming a diesel technician

Maybe you’re debating between going to school to become an auto mechanic or studying to become a diesel technician. If so, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of both what it takes to become an auto mechanic and a diesel technician. We’ll tell you in this section.

COMPLETE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION

All diesel technicians need to at least have a high school education. You can get that by graduating from high school or by earning something like a GED to prove your competency.

If you’re still in high school, then you might want to take some courses in automotive repair, electronics, and mathematics. These should help you gain the background skills that are necessary to excel in this industry.

OPTION 1: GO TO SCHOOL

After you’ve graduated from high school, you have two options. The first is to pursue post-secondary training as a diesel technician. You can do this at a vocational school, technical college, or community college.

You can pursue either a certification in a field related to diesel engines or an associate’s degree in one. 

Associate’s degrees tend to be more in-depth but also take longer to complete. You may spend 18-24 months working on one, while you could earn a certification in as little as 6 months. 

You’ll have to balance the time commitment of each option against your potential job opportunities to see which makes the most sense for you.

Going to school takes more time than on-the-job training. But it may also make it easier for you to find diesel technician job opportunities. You may even earn more as an entry-level worker if you’ve pursued post-secondary training in this industry.

OPTION 2: PURSUE ON-THE-JOB TRAINING

If you don’t like the idea of going back to school to become a diesel technician, you don’t have to do so. Many workers in this field get their training on the job.

When a diesel technician without any post-secondary training starts out, they tend to start off with simple assignments. These can include things like cleaning parts, checking oil levels, and moving vehicles.

The new diesel technician will work closely with more experienced employees who will teach them how to perform various repair and maintenance tasks.

Over time, someone who chooses this route will begin being able to take on more and more independent assignments until eventually they no longer need the support of a supervisor.

It can take a total of 3-4 years for a diesel technician without any training to become proficient enough to be a journeyman technician.

Is this career path right for you?

We’ve covered a lot of information about who diesel technicians are, what they do, and what it takes to become one. Now you’re ready to start thinking about whether or not this career path is the right one for you to pursue.

There is no uniform answer to this question. Your decision will have to come down to your personal evaluation of each of the factors covered in this article.

For example, you’ll want to consider each of the following factors:

  • How much money you can make
  • How hard or easy it will be for you to find a job
  • How much training you need to qualify for jobs
  • What your career progression looks like
  • The type of conditions you’ll likely work in

Take some time to think about each of these factors as they relate to the information you learned about diesel technicians in this article. Then consider whether you think each is a benefit or drawback.

Find your next diesel technician job through Rock the Trades

If you’re ready to start looking for diesel technician jobs, then Rock the Trades has you covered. You can download our app and we’ll automatically begin connecting you with the best job opportunities in your area.

All that you need to do is tell us a bit about yourself and we’ll curate a custom list of job opportunities to help you find your next position.

So why wait? Take the first step towards your next job in this industry by downloading the RTT app today.

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