Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Diesel Service Technician Jobs

  • Mobile Service Technician - Amerit Fleet Solutions - Ventura, CA

    Prepare vehicle records and report both manually and on a computer • Perform repairs and preventative maintenance to medium to heavy duty vehicles

  • DIESEL TECHNICIAN WANTED - JOIN OUR TEAM - Aim Leasing Company - Columbus, OH

    Qualify for a

  • Diesel Mechanic - McCoy Freightliner - Portland, OR

    Our company offers a rewarding career with a generous benefit package including: - Paid vacation - Holiday pay - Health, dental & vision coverage

See all Diesel Service Technician jobs

Top 3 Diesel Mechanic Jobs

  • Diesel Mechanic - McCoy Freightliner - Portland, OR

    Our company offers a rewarding career with a generous benefit package including: - Paid vacation - Holiday pay - Health, dental & vision coverage

  • DIESEL MECHANIC - $1500 BONUS + BENEFITS - Aim Leasing Company - Bessemer, PA

    Long-term and Short-term Disability plans. Our mechanics are the best

  • Heavy Duty Diesel Mechanic - Remedial Construction Services, L.P. - Houston, TX

    In This Role, You Will: • Correct vehicle deficiencies by repairing, adjusting, overhauling, assembling, disassembling and replacing major

See all Diesel Mechanic jobs

What Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Do[About this section] [To Top]

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, or overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

Duties of Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Consult with customers and read work orders to 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, are also powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats, and some passenger vehicles and pickups.

Diesel technicians handle many kinds of repairs. They may work on a vehicle’s electrical system, make major engine repairs, or retrofit exhaust systems with emission control 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 heavily 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.

In addition to using computerized diagnostic equipment, diesel technicians 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.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

Work Environment for Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics[About this section] [To Top]

Diesel service technicians and mechanics held about 263,900 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most diesel service technicians and mechanics were as follows:

Truck transportation 19%
Wholesale trade 15
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals 10
Automotive repair and maintenance 8

Diesel technicians usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites.

Injuries and Illnesses

Diesel service technicians and mechanics have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Diesel technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy or dirty equipment, and work in uncomfortable positions. Sprains and cuts are common among diesel technicians. Workers will need to follow some safety precautions when in the workplace.

Diesel Service Technician and Mechanic Work Schedules

Most diesel technicians work full time. Overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. In addition, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.

How to Become a Diesel Service Technician or Mechanic[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics near you!

Most diesel technicians learn informally on the job after a high school education, but employers increasingly prefer applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. Although not required, industry certification can demonstrate a diesel technician’s competence and experience.

Diesel Service Technician and Mechanic Education

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.

An increasing number of employers look for workers with postsecondary training in diesel engine repair. Many community colleges and trade and vocational schools offer certificate or degree programs in diesel engine repair.

Programs mix classroom instruction with hands-on training, including 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 Service Technician and Mechanic Training

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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 drive trains, electronic systems, or 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 they may test-drive buses and large trucks.

Important Qualities for Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Customer-service skills. Diesel technicians frequently discuss automotive problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Diesel technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Mechanics need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, or using hand tools.

Mechanical skills. Diesel technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Diesel technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability for parts.

Strength. Diesel technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, such as exhaust system components and pneumatic wrenches.

Troubleshooting skills. Diesel technicians must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Diesel Service Technician and Mechanic Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $44,520 in May 2015. 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 $28,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,940.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for diesel service technicians and mechanics in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State and local government, excluding education and hospitals $51,870
Wholesale trade 45,480
Automotive repair and maintenance 41,540
Truck transportation 40,650

Many diesel technicians, especially those employed by truck fleet dealers and repair shops, receive a commission in addition to their base salary.

Most diesel technicians work full time. Overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. In addition, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.

Job Outlook for Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

As more freight is shipped across the country, additional diesel-powered trucks will be needed to carry freight where trains and pipelines are not available or economical. Additionally, diesel cars and light trucks are becoming more popular, and more diesel technicians will be needed to maintain and repair these vehicles.

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Job Prospects

Workers who have completed formal postsecondary education and have strong technical skills should have the best job opportunities, followed by graduates of accredited high school automotive programs.

Workers without formal training often require more supervision and on-the-job instruction than others. These untrained workers will face strong competition for jobs because training is an expensive and time-consuming process for employers.

Employment projections data for Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists 263,900 295,500 12 31,600


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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