Although basic automotive training is the place many diesel technicians begin learning about vehicle mechanics, it is not what employers requiring diesel repair and maintenance are looking for. Most employers want to hire a technician after the candidate receives formal diesel training. In some cases, three to four years of hands on work experience can substitute for formal training. Diesel technicians with two years of formal training can often advance more quickly from a beginner to an intermediate level technician than someone receiving hands-on training.
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Obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent. A high school diploma is required to obtain diesel training from a trade school or college. High school courses in electronics, auto repair, math, English and science are good preparation for a job as a diesel technician.
Get work experience. Working in a diesel repair shop or assisting a diesel mechanic is a good foundation for formal training. On-the-job training lasting 3 to 4 years can qualify a person as a journey-level diesel technician. Journey-level technicians are able to work on their own without supervision. Documented work experience or hands-on proof of diesel technical skills is usually required when applying for a journey-level technician job.
Get the right training. Trade, vocational and community colleges provide educational programs in diesel technician training. Students learn to repair and maintain diesel engines, brakes, fuel systems and use diagnostic tools that check diesel truck electronics. Programs can last from six months to two years and result in a certificate, an associate's degree or even certification. For example, Universal Technical Institute offers a 45-week, hands-on training program for Diesel and Industrial Technology with additional electives for Cummins, Diamler and internationally known manufacturers. UTI awards students a NATEF/ASE certification upon graduation and lifetime career placements assistance (see Resources).
Obtain a commercial driver's license. A commercial driver's license is necessary to test drive and move diesel trucks and transportation vehicles along highways and city streets. Check with your state's department of transportation for license requirements.
Graduate from an Association of Diesel Specialists school. The ADS has developed a diesel technician training program aimed at heavy machinery and agricultural diesel technology. Schools participating in this program include Alfred State College, University of Northwestern Ohio and Madison Area Technical College. ADS offers a scholarship program for its first- and second-year students (see Resources).
Get certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Certification is not required for diesel technicians, however, it could help technician's find better paying jobs. Technician's can get ASE certified in specific areas such as truck brakes, drivetrains and electrical systems. ASE certification requires the technician to pass an exam, provide proof of two years of work experience relevant to the exam topic and maintain certification by retesting every five years. (see Resources).
Tips and warnings
- Diesel technicians can be trained to work on machinery as well as vehicles. Graduates with a degree in diesel technology from Wyotech get jobs in heavy equipment maintenance, locomotive maintenance, truck and dealership fleet maintenance (see Resources).
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