Certificate programs train students in the operation, maintenance and repair of truck engines. Such programs are offered at many 2-year technical and community colleges. In addition to trucks, students learn the mechanics of locomotives, buses, cranes, tractors and other diesel machines. Students learn through classroom theory instruction and hands-on laboratory work where they practice working on engines under faculty supervision.
In associate's degree programs, students learn about diesel engine theory, electrical systems and federal regulations. These subjects are then further explored in the laboratory where students practice diagnosing problems, using special tools and working on engines. Both programs are intended for students interested in careers working with diesel engines, including truck mechanics and truck drivers.
The prerequisites for these programs are a high school diploma, high aptitude for math and science, prior knowledge of truck mechanics, and, in some cases, submission of ACT or SAT scores. Other possible requirements may be professional certification.
Certificate Programs in Diesel Mechanics
Courses cover the wide range of systems found in truck and other heavy machine engines. Common classes include:
- Introduction to truck engines
- Fuel system fundamentals
- Hydraulic system fundamentals
- Basic electricity
Associate's Degree Programs in Diesel Mechanics
In addition to classes that focus on diesel mechanics, candidates are required to take general education courses, such as English composition and science. Core coursework includes:
- Introductory diesel engines
- Truck heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems
- Truck maintenance and safety
- Truck brake systems
- Heavy vehicle drive train systems
Truck and bus mechanics and other diesel engine specialists held approximately 263,900 jobs in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The general freight trucking industry was the largest single employer. Job opportunities were expected to grow by 12% percent between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations nationwide. Though the increase of freight being shipped by trucks across the nation was expected to spur demand for mechanics, this demand was expected to be offset by improved durability of new trucks.
Continuing Education and Certification
Most employers seek truck mechanics with formal training from certificate or associate's degree programs; generally, further education is not required. Though certification is not mandated, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers credentialing to diesel and other automotive service mechanics and technicians. ASE certification, which may lead to better advancement opportunities, requires at least two year's working experience and successful completion of an exam for each area of specialization for which certification is desired.
After completing a certificate or associate's degree, students can pursue a career as a truck mechanic or diesel service technician, a field expected to grow by 12% over the next decade. Obtaining a certificate from the ASE could help further advance your career.