Diesel Mechanics



Schools and Education

What's Needed:

  • Many employers seek candidates with a certificate or associate degree in diesel engine repair — although a large percentage will accept a high school diploma plus relevant experience.
  • Many vocational schools and community colleges offer associate degrees and/or certificate of completion diesel engine repair programs.
  • Diesel engine repair programs take from six months to two years to complete.

Due to the hands-on nature of the occupation online diesel mechanic training programs are very rare however online courses are available on a very limited basis. Some schools provide a hybrid format which require students to complete a portion of their coursework on-campus or at a work location.

Completing a diesel mechanic training program may lead to a career as a diesel engine specialist diesel service technician heavy equipment maintenance professional fleet maintenance mechanic locomotive maintenance mechanic or truck mechanic.

What you study:

  • Basics of diesel technology
  • Cooling systems
  • Diesel engine systems
  • Tune-ups
  • Electrical and electronic systems
  • Brake systems
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Diesel engine operation
  • Diagnostic techniques
  • Engine overhaul

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a diesel mechanic or diesel service tech student.

Diesel Service TechniquesCovers basic diesel systems including fuel suspension brakes electrical and drive trains. Overviews safety operation of equipment and inspection.Foundation knowledge to be applied for more advanced courses.
Diesel Engine TechnologyTheory of diesel engine operation components and their terminology including fuels compression air intake and exhaust systems. Also commonly covered are diagnosis basic overhaul steps measurements of parts use of tools fasteners and safe practices.Lay groundwork for students to take on advanced coursework and labs for engine repair and maintenance.
Fuel SystemsTheory and operation of fuel injection systems used in diesel equipment including mechanical and electronic. Review problem solving repair and safety considerations.Ready students to maintain diesel equipment fuel systems.
Electrical SystemsBasic electric circuit troubleshooting. Design diagnosis and servicing of diesel electrical systems. Covers engine starting charging and accessories.Prepare students to work on diesel equipment electrical systems.
Heavy Equipment Drive TrainCovers operations of common drive train components such as clutches transmissions differentials and torque converters. Teaches repair and servicing of transmission assemblies.Ready students to maintain drive train systems common to diesel equipment.
Suspension Steering and Brake SystemsTheory and repair of tires wheels steering components different types of suspensions hydraulic and pneumatic brake systems.Ready students to maintain and repair suspension steering and brake systems typically found on diesel vehicles.
Electronic Computerized ControlsOperation and adjustments to power train electronic controls used on diesel engines and power trains.Prepare students to maintain electronic controls found on diesel equipment.

Video Overview

A quick look at what diesel mechanic work includes. Created for the US Department of Labor.

Top Schools

As a reference below is a selection of schools among the largest in graduating diesel mechanic students:

  • The Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport Pennsylvania is an affiliate of Pennsylvania State University. The college provides an applied technology certificate and degrees. Students learn advanced diesel maintenance techniques and principles.The A.A.S. Diesel Technology program prepares students to take the following National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (NIASE) examinations: Heavy Truck Mechanics Stationary Refrigeration Motor Vehicle Air-conditioning level I Eaton Hybrid Certification and the Allison Transmission Certification exam. Students are also prepared to obtain manufacturer certifications and EPA certifications in motor vehicle air-conditioning and stationary refrigeration.
  • San Jacinto College a two-year college in Pasadena Texas ranks 4th on the list of the top 50 associate degree producers in science technologies by Community College Week.San Jacinto College provides an Associate of Applied Science Diesel Technology program and a 3-term Diesel Technology certificate. Students in the Associate Diesel Technology degree program learn about engine testing and repair as well as HVAC electrical systems brake systems powertrain safety and much more. San Jacinto College reports prominent companies often seek graduates from its programs.
  • Wyotech with locations in Wyoming California Florida and Pennsylvania provides training with an array of diesel engines and power systems. Students learn to work on machines made by some of the top names in the diesel industry including Caterpillar Cummins John Deere and Detroit Diesel.Wyotech offers specialities such as advanced diesel automotive-diesel combination applied service management light-duty diesel high performance powertrain motor sports chassis and other specialities.

Tips for Selecting a School

  • Accreditation: The best schools are accredited at the national level by a notable organization such as the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
  • Hands-on training: It's the most important part of diesel mechanic training program. Some diesel mechanic programs include about 30 hours per week of hands-on training. The diesel technology certificate program at Western Technical College consists of about 50 percent hands-on training. Choose a school with an on-site garage. Some diesel mechanic schools provide students the option of participating in manufacturer-specific training programs.
  • Class size: A small class size provides the opportunity for more one-on-one instruction from the teacher
  • Recommendations: Ask for feedback from local repair shop owners about the diesel mechanic schools you're interested in.
  • Certification: Does the school have a good track record regarding its graduates obtaining certification from the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) organization?
  • Equipment: A tour of the facility provides you better insight into the overall quality of the diesel mechanic program. Look at the amount of available equipment.
  • Graduation rate: What percentage of students graduate from the program.
  • On-time completion rate: What percentage of students graduate on time? For example Wyotech's Advanced Diesel Technology diploma program has a 90 percent on-time completion rate.
  • Job Placement: Find out the school's job placement rate. For example Wyotech's Advanced Diesel Technology diploma program has an 81 percent placement rate and San Jacinto College reports a 100 percent placement rate. Some diesel mechanic programs have partnership programs which help place students in entry-level jobs.
  • Electives: Does the program include manufacturer-supported electives? Some schools provide electives such as Cummins Diesel Cummins Power Generation International Trucks and Daimler Trucks.

Certifications and Licensing

Although not required certification from the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) is the recognized industry credential for diesel mechanics and technicians. ASE certification may increase employment opportunities and salary.

You must have at least two years of work experience in the field to apply to take the ASE exams. However those without the experience can take the exams if they've completed an approved apprenticeship program or complete a special co-op class from an original equipment manufacturer.

Diesel mechanics may obtain certification is specific repair areas including electronic systems drive trains and preventive maintenance and inspection. They can also take the Master Diesel Mechanic certification examination. Diesel mechanics who test drive large trucks or buses may be required to have a commercial driver's license.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Most diesel mechanics work full-time and many diesel mechanics work on the weekends. Overtime is common.

Work location: Most diesel mechanics work indoors in repair shops however at some shops they sometimes work outdoors with large vehicles. Some repair shops are well-lighted and ventilated. Diesel mechanics occasionally repair vehicles at a job site or on the road.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Diesel Mechanics

What exactly does a diesel mechanic do?
Diesel mechanics are trained to inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, and machinery that has a diesel engine. Here are some of the typical duties of a diesel mechanic:

  • Provide customer service to determine the work required on diesel engines
  • Inspect and repair brake systems, transmissions, steering mechanisms, and engines
  • Interpret diagnostic test results to identify mechanical problems in diesel engines
  • Identify problems with parts and repair or replace malfunctioning components
  • Test-drive vehicles to ensure that they run safely

How much does a diesel mechanic make per hour?
Hourly wages for diesel mechanics vary from city to city and from job to job but in 2017 the median hourly wage for a diesel mechanic was $22.29 per hour.

Below, we have created a chart that lists annual wages for diesel mechanics across the country.

Are diesel mechanics in high demand?
The employment outlook for diesel mechanics is growing at an average rate of 9 percent per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Recommended Websites

Here are several websites we consider among the best resources for researching diesel mechanic careers:

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.


StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$64480$51K – $79K3100.18%
AKFairbanks$64700$51K – $87K1500.43%
ALAnniston – Oxford$47310$42K – $52K7301.66%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$40560$29K – $58K7700.16%
ALDecatur$30220$25K – $45K400.08%
ALDothan$40640$31K – $48K400.08%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$29440$26K – $40K500.10%
ALHuntsville$41530$31K – $56K1100.06%
ALMobile$37780$30K – $67K3000.18%
ALMontgomery$44330$31K – $58K1300.08%
ALTuscaloosa$42090$26K – $57K900.10%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$38010$31K – $53K1300.07%
ARFort Smith$45220$28K – $57K1100.10%
ARJonesboro$36680$25K – $48K500.09%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$36520$30K – $51K4100.12%
AZFlagstaff$49420$32K – $61K300.06%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$47460$33K – $61K700.16%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$48240$33K – $61K16900.10%
AZPrescott$45320$30K – $73K900.17%
AZTucson$45280$29K – $61K5500.16%
AZYuma$51700$33K – $64K1300.24%
CABakersfield – Delano$50160$34K – $68K5900.21%
CAChico$49840$34K – $66K600.09%
CAEl Centro$52500$35K – $61K300.06%
CAFresno$50680$35K – $60K4000.13%
CAHanford – Corcoran$24550$21K – $55K800.22%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$57440$36K – $86K25200.07%
CAMadera – Chowchilla$38070$26K – $59KN/AN/A
CAMerced$49670$42K – $73K400.07%
CAModesto$46390$37K – $59K1200.08%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$63360$42K – $84K6800.07%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$51540$35K – $77K1400.05%
CARedding$51760$27K – $76K800.14%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$53450$36K – $71K12600.11%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$53350$40K – $74K7500.09%
CASalinas$53670$34K – $70K1500.09%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$52150$36K – $67K9000.07%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$44730$27K – $74K3600.04%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$59910$38K – $77K2300.03%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$55660$48K – $87K1000.10%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$53450$36K – $74K4700.03%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$52390$42K – $75K1700.10%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$59840$49K – $74K400.04%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$56960$36K – $74K1000.06%
CAStockton$51240$36K – $66K2300.12%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$53750$39K – $70K1400.12%
CAVisalia – Porterville$43680$32K – $63K900.07%
CAYuba City$51920$45K – $61K400.11%
COBoulder$43830$30K – $57K800.05%
COColorado Springs$49090$36K – $71K2400.10%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$51780$40K – $67K13700.11%
COFort Collins – Loveland$46730$36K – $61K600.05%
COGrand Junction$47040$33K – $60K1800.31%
COGreeley$40410$23K – $59K1100.13%
COPueblo$43260$33K – $57KN/AN/A
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$59150$49K – $73K1000.02%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$60680$40K – $77K2300.04%
CTNew Haven$47980$34K – $66K2400.09%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$51350$35K – $71K9100.04%
DEDover$41280$29K – $58K700.12%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$47810$31K – $64K2000.06%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$44440$34K – $59K1300.06%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$31520$21K – $38K400.03%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$39450$28K – $58K2900.04%
FLGainesville$36470$27K – $50K500.04%
FLJacksonville$38930$32K – $52K5600.10%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$36130$29K – $57K1000.05%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$45680$23K – $69K5800.06%
FLNaples – Marco Island$39510$28K – $53K400.04%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$39260$31K – $52K1300.05%
FLOcala$37180$31K – $52K1500.17%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$41360$29K – $54K7100.07%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$42190$31K – $62K2400.13%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$40210$28K – $51K600.09%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$38450$27K – $51K1000.07%
FLPort St. Lucie$34150$25K – $48K800.06%
FLTallahassee$39880$31K – $53K700.05%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$42150$28K – $60K7900.07%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$42580$32K – $67K2300.05%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$40500$29K – $59K11000.05%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$47960$29K – $61K1700.08%
GABrunswick$37550$28K – $50K400.12%
GADalton$38910$31K – $47K800.13%
GAGainesville$30450$26K – $47K500.08%
GAMacon$37280$25K – $56K700.08%
GARome$$25K – $39KN/AN/A
GASavannah$44840$31K – $63K900.06%
HIHonolulu$67120$48K – $78K210

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