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What Is Heavy Diesel Mechanics?

Heavy diesel mechanics is the repair and maintenance of heavy diesel-powered equipment, such as trucks, buses and farm equipment, by mechanics and similar technicians. Heavy diesel mechanics work in many settings, including trucking, construction, logging, and farming. Many technicians are graduates of certificate or degree programs in diesel technology, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Diesel Technology program.

Industry Overview

The durability and efficiency of diesel-powered engines makes them ideal for use in vehicles that endure a lot of wear and tear, including buses, trucks, trains, cranes, locomotives, cargo ships, farm tractors, and bulldozers. Lots of equipment runs on diesel engines, such as oil rigs, hydraulic systems, and farming equipment.

Important Facts About Heavy Diesel Mechanics

Required Education High school diploma, or equivalent
Key Skills Physical strength, manual dexterity, troubleshooting, attention to detail, customer service oriented
Similar Occupations Automotive body and glass repairers, small engine mechanics, heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, automotive service technicians and mechanics, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians
Median Salary (2018) $47,350 (for diesel service technicians and mechanics)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 9% (for diesel service technicians and mechanics)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Heavy diesel mechanics are employed by manufacturers, dealerships, and farm operations that need knowledgeable technicians who can fix diesel engines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there were approximately 264,860 diesel service technicians and mechanics in 2018.

A heavy diesel mechanic has the expertise to test, disassemble, and analyze components for damage, defects, or extreme wear. These technicians can also check and adjust systems and parts to make sure that they are working according to specifications. Many heavy diesel mechanics have received formal specialized training that is necessary to repair, diagnose, maintain, and service vehicles and equipment.

Education and Training

Many colleges and technical schools provide the training required to get started in heavy diesel mechanics. While some technicians choose to earn a certificate that will help them qualify for entry-level jobs, others elect to complete associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. Mechanics looking for an accelerated career path usually obtain certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The curriculum of most heavy diesel mechanics technology programs may include the following topics:

  • Diesel principles and theory
  • Proper care and use of tools
  • Lubrication systems
  • Cooling systems
  • Basic hydraulics
  • Electrical systems
  • Suspension and steering systems
  • Principles and repair of internal combustion engines
  • Brake systems, transmissions, differentials, and drive lines