Due to the extensive hands-on experience requirements, online degree and certificate programs for diesel mechanics are almost non-existent, but there are a few online career diploma programs. These online programs consist of ten lessons the students can access and a quiz at the conclusion of each unit. Topics cover all aspects of diesel truck repair and maintenance. Students take classes as their schedules permit, with completion times ranging from less than a year to more than two years.
On-campus programs give students real experience with the systems they're studying in class. Offered as certificates, diplomas, and associate's degrees, these programs take from six months to two years to complete. Associate's degree students must complete general education requirements such as English composition and mathematics. In these programs, students study diesel truck and heavy engine functions, maintenance, and repair.
Students should look for programs that qualify them for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification examination. Some programs include an ASE test preparation course. While certification is not mandatory, most employers prefer to hire a certified mechanic. Students can be certified in specific areas, such as drive trains and electronics systems and must re-take the test every five years. Experience is required as well, but sometimes training is allowed to substitute for experience.
Online Diesel Mechanics Diploma
Typically offered as a career diploma program, an online diesel mechanics programs helps students to develop the skills needed to gain entry-level employment as diesel mechanics and heavy truck maintenance technicians. Students learn key functions of the profession, such as maintenance, repair, failure analysis, and troubleshooting. Other topics include ignition, intake, exhaust, cooling, and fuel system components.
Information & Requirements
Depending on student's full-time or part-time enrollment status, an online diesel mechanic diploma program can be completed in as little as seven months or take up to two years of study. The curriculum usually consists of ten instructional modules, including a test preparation component that prepares students to take the ASE certification exam. Online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete assignments at their own pace. Course materials typically include a textbook and downloadable study resources.
Here are some common courses that can be completed through online self-guided study:
- Diesel engine fundamentals
- Ignition and computer systems
- Batteries and starting systems
- Truck steering systems
Most often offered at community colleges and vocational schools, on-campus diesel mechanics programs are offered at the certificate, diploma, and associate degree levels. Diesel mechanics programs, also commonly referred known as diesel technology programs, provide students with the key skills and mechanical knowledge used to maintain and repair diesel powered equipment, including large diesel trucks, buses, farming equipment, oil rigs, and construction vehicles.
Students study a variety of topics, including engine theory and design, power train principles, heavy-duty clutches, steering alignment, and heavy-duty torque convertors. On-campus programs focus on providing students with hands-on experience in the industry.
Information & Requirements
On-campus diesel mechanics programs are composed of 31-80 credit hours and can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete. Hands-on labs are a vital component to any on-campus program and provide students with experience that can help them gain employment upon graduation. Students are able to work with diesel engines and power systems from some of the top brands in the diesel industry, such as Caterpillar, Cummins, and John Deere.
Most coursework included in an on-campus diesel mechanics program includes both classroom instruction and hands-on learning opportunities. Required coursework for degree and certificate programs is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce ready to troubleshoot, repair, and maintain diesel engines. Here is a sampling of courses that are required as part of a diesel mechanics training program:
- Diesel engine overhaul
- Engine management systems
- Diesel electrical systems
- Steering and suspension
- Arc welding
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for diesel mechanics are expected to grow at an average rate of 12% during the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS reports that graduates from formal diesel mechanics training programs such as those offered at community colleges and vocational schools, will have the best employment opportunities. As reported by the BLS in May of 2015, the median annual salary for diesel mechanics was $44,520, with the majority of mechanics employed within the general freight trucking industry.
Although not required for employment, diesel mechanics certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) may find increased employment opportunities and advancement. The ASE offers certification in specific areas of truck repair including electronic systems, preventive maintenance, drive trains, and steering. Certification requires completion of an exam and at least two years of work experience.
Those who would like to work in the diesel mechanic's field would do best to seek certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Prior to taking the certification examination, students should seek education from an online diploma program or one of the on-campus certificate or associate's degree programs. According to the BLS, this field has a faster-than-average job growth of 12% between 2014-2024. The median salary for diesel mechanics was $44,520 in 2015.