Diesel service technicians maintain and repair diesel engines in heavy trucks, buses, and locomotives. Those who work for organizations that maintain their own vehicles spend most of their time on preventative maintenance in order to ensure safe operation and reduce the chances of breakdowns. Routine maintenance includes inspection of brakes, steering, wheel bearings, and other crucial parts. After the inspection, technicians repair or replace parts, depending on whether they can be fixed. Diesel service technicians use many different tools, including power tools, machine tools, welding and flame-cutting equipment, and jacks and hoists, as well common hand tools.
Employers usually look for candidates who are at least 18 years of age, in good physical condition, and who have an aptitude for mechanical work and problem-solving. Technicians need to be flexible, because they are constantly required to adapt to new technologies and to the needs of customers. They need to have a State commercial driver’s license to test-drive trucks or buses on public roads, and usually they are required to pass a drug test.
In 2002, diesel service technicians earned a median hourly wage of $16.53. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $10.66, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $24.61. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of diesel service technicians:
- Local government – $19.58
- Motor vehicle merchant wholesalers – 16.80
- General freight and trucking – 15.62
- Automotive repair and maintenance – 15.36
- Elementary and secondary schools – 15.10
Training and Education
Although many people become diesel service technicians by completing on-the-job training, it is highly recommended that candidates obtain some kind of formal education because that is what employers prefer. Community colleges, trade schools, and vocational schools all offer formal training programs from 6-month certifications to 2-year associate degrees. These types of programs provide graduates with knowledge of the latest technologies and the ability to interpret complex technical manuals. Often, experienced employees will be sent by their employers to special training classes organized by manufacturers and vendors. In these classes, workers are given the chance to update their skills and familiarize themselves with the latest technology and repair techniques. You can check out a list of Diesel Mechanic Schools by clicking on this link.
In 2002, diesel service technicians held about 267,000 jobs. 20% worked on buses and trucks for automotive repair and maintenance shops, motor vehicle and parts wholesalers, or automotive equipment rental and leasing agencies. 19% maintained the buses and trucks for public transit companies, schools, and government. 17% worked for freight trucking companies. The remaining technicians worked for manufacturing and construction companies, or were self-employed.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of diesel service technicians is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Freight transportation by truck is expected to increase, and additional trucks will be needed to keep up with this increased volume. Buses and trucks of all sizes are expected to be increasingly powered by diesel engines, due to their superior longevity and reliability. The growing number of school buses will also create a demand for diesel service technicians. Because of the relatively high pay scale, competition for these jobs will be healthy. Those with formal education degrees will have the best chance of employment.