In the truck repair field, students can choose between certificate programs and an Associate of Applied Science in Medium/Heavy Truck Technology and an Associate of Diesel Technology. These programs teach the skills needed to maintain big rigs, diesel engines and other heavy equipment through classroom-based lectures and hands-on experiences in campus repair labs or professional repair shops. Certificate programs generally last 1-2 years, while associate's degree programs typically take two years to complete. Both program types can prepare students for professional certification.
Certificate Programs in Truck Repair
Some technical institutions and truck driving companies offer 1-2 year vocational programs that train individuals in truck repair. These programs, sometimes called diesel technician training programs, combine classroom study with hands-on experience in the diagnosis and repair of mechanical malfunctions in semi tractors and other large diesel vehicles. Many programs run actual shops in which students repair trucks under supervision. Topics of study include:
- Electrical systems
- Diesel engine inspection
- Diesel fuel systems
- Truck welding
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Associate's Degree Programs in Truck Repair
These programs' curricula include general education courses in addition to truck repair training. Like certificate programs, these programs also combine classroom work with hands-on experience in simulated or working truck repair shops. Students gain the ability to inspect engines to determine problems, provide ongoing maintenance and repair problems as they develop. Courses might include:
- Truck braking systems
- Hydraulic systems
- Transmissions and clutches
- Steering and suspension
Employment opportunities for diesel service technicians and mechanics are expected to increase 12%, which is faster than average for all occupations, during the period from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Truck diesel engines are becoming more reliable, requiring less maintenance and repair, although some new growth may be attributed to an increase in diesel trucks needed for expansion in cross-country shipping. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $44,520 in 2015 for diesel service technicians and mechanics.
Certification and Continuing Education
Some certificate programs offer students the opportunity to continue to a degree program in an area such as automotive technology. Additionally, some truck repair technicians may seek continuing education to learn a new specialty or to seek professional certification.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a widely-recognized organization offering multiple national certification options for truck repair technicians. Individuals with truck and diesel repair knowledge can earn medium and heavy truck certification, truck equipment certification and school bus or transit bus certification. Truck repair certification candidates must pass the required exams and complete relevant work experience. Certified technicians must take a recertification exam every five years.
Obtaining a certificate or associate's degree in the truck repair field usually takes between 1 and 2 years, and students will learn various aspects of operating and troubleshooting problems in diesel-powered vehicles, such as trucks and buses. Certification is available to program graduates, but must be renewed every five years.