Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, or any vehicle with a diesel engine.
What they do
Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:
- Consult with customers, read work orders, and determine work required
- Plan work procedures, using technical charts and manuals
- Inspect brake systems, steering mechanisms, transmissions, engines, and other parts of vehicles
- Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
- Read and interpret diagnostic test results to identify mechanical problems
- Repair or replace malfunctioning components, parts, and other mechanical or electrical equipment
- Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
- Test-drive vehicles to ensure that they run smoothly
Because of their efficiency and durability, diesel engines have become the standard in powering trucks and buses. Other heavy vehicles and mobile equipment, including bulldozers and cranes, also are powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats and some passenger vehicles and pickups.
Diesel technicians make major and minor engine repairs, and work on a vehicle’s electrical and exhaust systems to comply with pollution regulations.
Diesel engine maintenance and repair is becoming more complex as engines and other components use more electronic systems to control their operation. For example, fuel injection and engine timing systems rely on microprocessors to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize harmful emissions. In most shops, workers often use hand-held or laptop computers to diagnose problems and adjust engine functions.
Diesel technicians also use a variety of power and machine tools, such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, grinding machines, and welding equipment. Hand tools, including pliers, sockets and ratchets, and screwdrivers, are commonly used.
Employers typically provide expensive power tools and computerized equipment, but workers generally acquire their own hand tools over time.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars, are described in the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles are described in the small engine mechanics profile.
Diesel technicians usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites.
How to become a Diesel Service Technician and/or Mechanic
Although most diesel technicians learn on the job after a high school education, employers are increasingly preferring applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. In addition, obtaining industry certification may be helpful because certification demonstrates a diesel technician’s competence and experience.
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. High school or postsecondary courses in automotive repair, electronics, and mathematics provide a strong educational background for a career as a diesel technician.
Some employers prefer to hire workers with postsecondary education in diesel engine repair. Many community colleges and trade and vocational schools offer certificate or degree programs in diesel engine repair.
These degree programs mix classroom instruction with hands-on training and include learning the basics of diesel technology, repair techniques and equipment, and practical exercises. Students also learn how to interpret technical manuals and electronic diagnostic reports.
Diesel technicians who begin working without any postsecondary education are trained extensively on the job. Trainees are assigned basic tasks, such as cleaning parts, checking fuel and oil levels, and driving vehicles in and out of the shop.
After they learn routine maintenance and repair tasks and demonstrate competence, trainees move on to more complicated subjects, such as vehicle diagnostics. This process can take from 3 to 4 years, at which point a trainee is usually considered a journey-level diesel technician.
Over the course of their careers, diesel technicians must learn to use new techniques and equipment. Employers often send experienced technicians to special training classes conducted by manufacturers and vendors to learn about the latest diesel technology.
Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for diesel and other automotive service technicians and mechanics. Although not required, this certification demonstrates a diesel technician’s competence and experience to potential employers and clients, and often brings higher pay.
Diesel technicians may be certified in specific repair areas, such as drivetrains, electronic systems, and preventative maintenance and inspection. To earn certification, technicians must have 2 years of work experience and pass one or more ASE exams. To remain certified, diesel technicians must pass a recertification exam every 5 years.
Many diesel technicians are required to have a commercial driver’s license so that they may test-drive buses and large trucks.
The median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $48,500 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,090.
Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Similar Job Titles
Bus Mechanic, Diesel Mechanic, Diesel Technician, Fleet Mechanic, General Repair Mechanic, Mechanic, Service Technician, Trailer Mechanic, Transit Mechanic, Truck Mechanic
Farm Equipment Mechanic and Service Technician, Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic (except Engines), Motorboat Mechanic and Service Technician, Control and Valve Installer and Repairer (except Mechanical Door), Transportation Vehicle/Equipment and Systems Inspectors (except Aviation)
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
- Amalgamated Transit Union
- American Bus Association
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- International Union of Operating Engineers
- National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
Magazines and Publications
Keeping the country’s transportation and heavy equipment in motion takes a lot of horsepower… and a crew of highly-skilled technicians and mechanics. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, railways, and road transportation. Diesel service technicians and mechanics service buses and trucks, or repair any type of diesel engine. Many work for trucking companies, wholesale trade firms, and government agencies. Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians repair farm equipment as well as smaller lawn and garden tractors. Most work for dealer repair shops, with seasonal variation in job duties. Mobile heavy equipment mechanics maintain construction and surface mining equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, and excavators. Most work for government, equipment rental shops, and large construction and mining companies. Rail car repairers keep railroad locomotives, subway cars, and other rolling stock in good repair. They usually work for railroad, public and private transit companies, and for manufacturers. These technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy and dirty equipment, and work in awkward positions. While many works indoors in repair shops, some specialize in field service and travel to worksites that may be outdoors, in all types of weather. Service technicians generally work full time, sometimes including evenings or weekends. Overtime is common. Most service technicians have a high school education. Formal training and certificates are increasingly preferred by employers. Certificates usually take 1 to 2 years to earn. Once hired, trainees usually reach full qualification after 3 to 4 years.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org