How to Become a Diesel Service Technician & Mechanic

How to Become a Diesel Service Technician & MechanicDiesel mechanics play an important role in keeping semi trucks, buses and privately owned vehicles alike running smoothly. Repairing diesel equipment differs greatly from fixing gasoline-powered equipment, which is why these mechanics need specialized training in order to do their work.

Skills and Abilities Needed
High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Those who would like to become diesel service technicians should possess certain skills and abilities including:

  • Proficiency in math, to include being familiar with both the English and the metric system
  • Good manual dexterity
  • Having a basic understanding of mechanical components
  • Ability to stoop, kneel or lie in one spot for extended periods
  • Possessing the know-how to analyze and troubleshoot problems
  • Knowledge necessary to read and interpret technical manuals and bulletins

Typical Work Environment

Diesel mechanics and technicians work in repair shops, where they may be frequently exposed to loud noises from operating machinery. Some mechanics may also work inside truck stops and bus depots, where they will repair semi tractor-trailers and passenger busses. These workers may often work under tight deadlines, since getting these vehicles back out onto the road again will be extremely important.

Vocational Education and Training

Diesel mechanics normally begin by completing a vocational training program at a community college. Some schools may offer Associate degree programs as well. Some of the courses that could be required include diesel engine fundamentals, steering systems, ignition and computer systems and starting systems. A training program will consist of a combination of classroom instruction and practical hands-on experience whereby students will perform actual repairs under the supervision of their instructor.

Apprenticeship Program

After graduation, individuals can then begin an apprenticeship program at a diesel repair shop. Workers may be hired as lube technicians or mechanic’s helpers, and will work directly underneath a certified diesel mechanic. It normally takes around one to two years for an individual to become proficient in all types of diesel repair and become qualified to take a certification exam offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Qualifying for the Exam

Before individuals are allowed to sit for the ASE exam, they must have the right experience. This involves two years of experience or one year of experience along with approved education. This means that those who study at a vocational or technical college could be eligible to become certified sooner than mechanics that simply have on-the-job training will.


After successfully passing the exam, individuals will be considered to be a certified diesel mechanic. This license will be good for a period of five years, after which time it must be renewed by taking the examination again. The test is constantly being updated to reflect the most current information and technology available, so workers will have to keep their skills fresh in order to continue being certified. In some cases, this could require taking refresher courses or attending training conducted by certain manufacturers.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for auto mechanics to include diesel service technicians is expected to increase by around 17 percent by the year 2020. This is about average when compared with all other occupations tracked by this agency. The increase is due to the fact that more vehicles are expected to be placed into service in the coming years in addition to more older vehicles still being in service.

Education is likely to play an important role in helping people find work as a diesel technician. This is due to ever-evolving technology that is changing the way diesel engines are produced. Those who go on to become certified mechanics will constantly be in demand by large and small repair shops alike.

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