What Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Do
Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, or any vehicle with a diesel engine.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites. Most diesel technicians work full time, and overtime and evening shifts are common.
How to Become a Diesel Service Technician or Mechanic
Although most diesel service technicians and mechanics learn on the job after a high school education, employers are increasingly preferring applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. In addition, industry certification may be important.
The median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $48,500 in May 2019.
Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be best for those who have completed postsecondary training in diesel engine repair.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics (also known as diesel technicians) inspect, repair, or overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:
- Consult with customers, read work orders, and determine work required
- Plan work procedures, using technical charts and manuals
- Inspect brake systems, steering mechanisms, transmissions, engines, and other parts of vehicles
- Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
- Read and interpret diagnostic test results to identify mechanical problems
- Repair or replace malfunctioning components, parts, and other mechanical or electrical equipment
- Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
- Test-drive vehicles to ensure that they run smoothly
Because of their efficiency and durability, diesel engines have become the standard in powering trucks and buses. Other heavy vehicles and mobile equipment, including bulldozers and cranes, also are powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats and some passenger vehicles and pickups.
Diesel technicians make major and minor engine repairs, and work on a vehicle’s electrical and exhaust systems to comply with pollution regulations.
Diesel engine maintenance and repair is becoming more complex as engines and other components use more electronic systems to control their operation. For example, fuel injection and engine timing systems rely on microprocessors to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize harmful emissions. In most shops, workers often use hand-held or laptop computers to diagnose problems and adjust engine functions.
Diesel technicians also use a variety of power and machine tools, such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, grinding machines, and welding equipment. Hand tools, including pliers, sockets and ratchets, and screwdrivers, are commonly used.
Employers typically provide expensive power tools and computerized equipment, but workers generally acquire their own hand tools over time.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars, are described in the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.
Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles are described in the small engine mechanics profile.
Diesel service technicians and mechanics held about 281,300 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of diesel service technicians and mechanics were as follows:
|Automotive repair and maintenance||9|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||9|
Diesel technicians usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites.
Injuries and Illnesses
Diesel service technicians and mechanics often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy or dirty equipment, and work in uncomfortable positions. Sprains and cuts are common among these workers. Diesel technicians need to follow some safety precautions when in the workplace.
Most diesel technicians work full time. Overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. In addition, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of diesel service technicians and mechanics.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.
|See How to Become One||$64,310|
Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$42,350|
Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$42,090|
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, and other industries.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$51,590|
Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment.
|See How to Become One||$37,840|
For more information about careers and education for diesel service technicians and mechanics, visit
Association of Diesel Specialists
For more information about certification, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/diesel-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm (visited ).