Become a Diesel Mechanic
Did you take apart your mom’s toaster and try to fix it when you were a kid? What about the TV, the computer, the radio, the car? If you love the technical aspect behind these tasks but don’t want to be tied to a desk all day, a career as a diesel mechanic may be perfect for you.
1. Take your Lego skills to shop and mechanics classes in high school, as well as algebra, geometry, physics and English. Extracurricular activities that provide mechanical experience and computer literacy would also be beneficial for those looking to become diesel mechanics.
2. Know the difference between auto and diesel mechanics. Not only do they work on different equipment, but systems operate differently in some cases.
3. Volunteer or work part-time on a nearby farm if that option is available to you. Often, you can get hands-on experience tearing down tractors or machinery and learning how everything works.
4. Take an interest in a car or truck someone you know is restoring. This is a perfect way to get your hands dirty and decide if you are interested enough in mechanics to pursue it as a career.
5. Set aside a few days to observe a diesel mechanic at work. This possible mentor may be able to give you some practical tips and send you in the direction of a good diesel mechanics program.
6. Look for a diesel mechanics program that offers the training you want. Most community, career and technical colleges – and some colleges and universities – offer a one to two-year associate’s degree or diploma program that allows students to specialize in different areas of diesel mechanics, including heavy equipment (construction), agricultural equipment and tractor-trailers.
7. Consider getting a job with a large company that offers on-the-job training right out of high school. Some large companies will even foot the entire bill of getting a diesel mechanic trained and certified.
8. Prepare yourself for the trade’s technical aspect, especially the need for some fairly advanced mathematics and computer skills. Many systems on large diesel vehicles and equipment are electronic, so students must be able to disassemble, diagnose, fix and reassemble these systems, too.
9. Put in at least two years of practical work experience after graduating before taking the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exams to become certified. After certification, the technician title will entitle you to slightly higher pay.