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What does a Diesel Mechanic do?

Some unfortunate people know how complicated life becomes when a much-needed car breaks down, especially in the peak of rush-hour traffic. Now imagine how difficult things can be when mechanical woes force truckers and their goods to stop trucking, or sideline packed public buses. When these auto disasters strike, it is diesel mechanics that restore order, getting crippled engines humming again, or just preventing failures in the first place.

What do diesel mechanics do?

Diesel mechanics maintain and repair diesel engines, a task that requires extensive knowledge of diesel engines, their systems and components. Because these technologies are always progressing, they must remain on the cutting edge of the technical changes that impact their work. Specific duties range from simple oil changes to total engine overhauls. In either case, these mechanics must be equipped to work with a variety of tools and diagnostic equipment, computerized or otherwise. They must also be able to relay sometimes overly-complicated technical information to customers with little to no repair experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some diesel mechanics specialize in heavy duty vehicles, like bulldozers and cranes, while others in passenger transports, like light trucks and boats. While most begin working in others' repair shops, some eventually go into business for themselves, making this a solid career option for mechanically-savvy entrepreneurial types.

How do I become a diesel mechanic?

Chances are you know someone who likes to tinker with cars or trucks in their spare time. Many diesel mechanics begin as hobbyists, but professionally repairing a broad range of engines, particularly heavy diesel engines, requires training.

According to the BLS, most begin with a community or trade college training program ranging from six months to two years in duration. They get a great deal of hands-on training with equipment and become familiar with the newest technologies. Some walk away from their training with employer-sought certifications, but others need to hone on-the-job experience to earn these credentials. The few diesel mechanics who forego formal training must often invest three to four years in a shop before they can become technicians.

What is the career outlook for a diesel mechanic?

The BLS reports that positions among diesel mechanics are expected to grow a bit slower than average. Note, however, that those who receive formal training through a community college or trade school have a significant edge over those who train on the job, making education an important investment in their careers.

The Association of Diesel Specialists, a professional trade organization, provides additional tools that can boost your job prospects, including scholarship and training information.

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