Heavy-Duty Diesel Truck Technician: Job Description & Career Requirements

Mar 15, 2019

Heavy-duty diesel truck technicians, sometimes called diesel mechanics, inspect, repair, and maintain the diesel engines and the moving parts that power various heavy-duty vehicles, such as buses, trucks, farm machinery, and construction equipment. Find out more about training programs, required skills, salary, and job outlook to see if this is the job for you.

Career Definition for a Heavy-Duty Diesel Truck Technician

Because diesel-powered engines are more efficient and durable than their gasoline counterparts, they are the standard in trucks, buses, and other heavy equipment. In addition to the well-known repair that is standard with all engines, preventative maintenance and routine inspection is a crucial part of the heavy-duty diesel truck technician's job. New emission standards require that equipment meet environmental regulations, and heavy-duty diesel truck technicians are responsible for staying abreast of them and retrofitting engines to comply.

Education Certificate and associate degree programs available
Job Skills Problem solving, manual dexterity, commercial driver's license for test driving
Median Salary (2017) $46,360 for diesel service technicians and mechanics*
Job Growth (2016-2026) 9% for diesel service technicians and mechanics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Formal training programs lead to the best job prospects and quickest advancement due to the increasing prevalence of computer-controlled systems in today's diesel equipment. According to America's Career Info Net, programs typically last from six months to two years. Although most lead to a certificate of completion, some result in the award of an associate degree in automotive technology. Formal training provides a foundation in the latest diesel technology, instruction in equipment service and repair, and instruction in interpretation of technical manuals from manufacturers and government agencies. Students also receive abundant hands-on training.

Skills Required

Mechanical aptitude, robust problem-solving skills, and attention to detail are crucial. Technicians may need a commercial driver's license to test-drive trucks or buses on public roads, and so they must be 18 years of age in most states. Manual dexterity, knowledge of machines and tools, and practical experience in engine repair are all valued, according to America's Career Info Net.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that opportunities for heavy-duty diesel truck technicians are expected to be good in the coming years and offer relatively high wages for those with formal training. An increase in the number of diesel-powered vehicles and the additional need for emissions compliance contribute to the growing opportunities in this hands-on field. The BLS published that the median annual salary of truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists was $46,360 in 2017, and an increase in jobs of 9% was predicted for 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some other choices in vehicular repair and maintenance careers:

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Some technicians and mechanics choose to work on helicopters and airplanes, instead. Aircraft mechanics diagnose and fix electrical and mechanical problems, while avionics technicians test instruments, interpret flight test data, and repair malfunctions. Certification through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required, and most of these mechanics and technicians attend schools approved by the FAA that offer programs spanning 18-24 months. Average employment growth of 5% was predicted by the BLS from 2016-2026 for these mechanics and technicians. In 2017, aircraft mechanics and service technicians earned an annual median salary of $61,020, the BLS reported, while avionics technicians earned $62,650.

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Those more interested in vehicle bodies might research the field of automotive body and glass repair, where individuals restore, replace, and refinish the bodies and frames of vehicles, in addition to the glassed portions. Training programs range from 6 months to 2 years; some learn their skills on-the-job. Faster-than-average job growth of 8% was projected by the BLS, from 2016-2026, and an annual median salary of $40,580 was reported for 2017.

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