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Become A Heavy Truck Mechanic

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Working As A Heavy Truck Mechanic

  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • $49,390

    Average Salary

What Does A Heavy Truck Mechanic Do

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, or overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

Duties

Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Consult with customers and read work orders to 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, are also powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats, and some passenger vehicles and pickups.

Diesel technicians handle many kinds of repairs. They may work on a vehicle’s electrical system, make major engine repairs, or retrofit exhaust systems with emission control 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 heavily 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. 

In addition to using computerized diagnostic equipment, diesel technicians 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.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and rail cars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

For more information on technicians and mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

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How To Become A Heavy Truck Mechanic

Most diesel technicians learn informally on the job after a high school education, but employers increasingly prefer applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. Although not required, industry certification can demonstrate a diesel technician’s competence and experience.

Education

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. High school or postsecondary courses in automotive repair, electronics, and mathematics provide a strong educational background for a career as a diesel technician.

An increasing number of employers look for workers with postsecondary training in diesel engine repair. Many community colleges and trade and vocational schools offer certificate or degree programs in diesel engine repair.

Programs mix classroom instruction with hands-on training, including the basics of diesel technology, repair techniques and equipment, and practical exercises. Students also learn how to interpret technical manuals and electronic diagnostic reports.

Training

Diesel technicians who begin working without any postsecondary education are trained extensively on the job. Trainees are assigned basic tasks, such as cleaning parts, checking fuel and oil levels, and driving vehicles in and out of the shop.

After they learn routine maintenance and repair tasks and demonstrate competence, trainees move on to more complicated subjects such as vehicle diagnostics. This process can take from 3 to 4 years, at which point a trainee is usually considered a journey-level diesel technician.

Over the course of their careers, diesel technicians must learn to use new techniques and equipment. Employers often send experienced technicians to special training classes conducted by manufacturers and vendors to learn about the latest diesel technology.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for diesel and other automotive service technicians and mechanics. Although not required, this certification demonstrates a diesel technician’s competence and experience to potential employers and clients, and often brings higher pay.

Diesel technicians may be certified in specific repair areas, such as drive trains, electronic systems, or preventative maintenance and inspection. To earn certification, technicians must have 2 years of work experience and pass one or more ASE exams. To remain certified, diesel technicians must pass a recertification exam every 5 years.

Many diesel technicians are required to have a commercial driver’s license so they may test-drive buses and large trucks.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Diesel technicians frequently discuss automotive problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Diesel technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Mechanics need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, or using hand tools.

Mechanical skills. Diesel technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Diesel technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability for parts.

Strength. Diesel technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, such as exhaust system components and pneumatic wrenches.

Troubleshooting skills. Diesel technicians must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

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Heavy Truck Mechanic Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Master Mechanic 5.4 years
Head Mechanic 4.7 years
Fleet Mechanic 3.7 years
Diesel Mechanic 3.6 years
Mechanic Driver 3.6 years
Mechanic 3.5 years
Bus Mechanic 3.3 years
Service Mechanic 3.3 years
Truck Mechanic 3.2 years
Marine Mechanic 3.1 years
Crane Mechanic 3.0 years
Shop Mechanic 2.9 years
Top Employers Before
Mechanic 16.5%
Welder 3.7%
Technician 3.7%
Owner 3.7%
Top Employers After
Mechanic 17.3%
Supervisor 3.5%
Technician 3.1%

Do you work as a Heavy Truck Mechanic?

Heavy Truck Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

95.5%

Female

2.8%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

68.5%

Black or African American

10.3%

Hispanic or Latino

9.2%

Asian

8.2%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Swahili

25.0%

Carrier

25.0%

French

25.0%

Lingala

25.0%
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Heavy Truck Mechanic Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

14.6%

University of Northwestern Ohio

9.8%

Baker College

7.3%

Central Texas College

7.3%

Texas State Technical College - Waco

7.3%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

7.3%

Paine College

4.9%

Rosedale Technical Institute

4.9%

Kilgore College

4.9%

Pikes Peak Community College

4.9%

Fayetteville Technical Community College

4.9%

Miami Valley Career Technology Center

2.4%

Western Washington University

2.4%

Aviation Institute of Maintenance - Manassas

2.4%

University of Texas at Arlington

2.4%

Hagerstown Community College

2.4%

University of Maryland - University College

2.4%

Chippewa Valley Technical College

2.4%

Santa Monica College

2.4%

Ferris State University

2.4%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

52.9%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

5.8%

Electrical Engineering

5.0%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.3%

Precision Metal Working

3.3%

Business

3.3%

Heating And Air Conditioning

3.3%

General Studies

3.3%

Industrial Technology

2.5%

Apparel And Textiles

1.7%

Sociology

1.7%

Fine Arts

1.7%

Drafting And Design

1.7%

Elementary Education

1.7%

Mechanical Engineering

1.7%

Engineering

1.7%

Agricultural Mechanization

1.7%

Small Business Management

1.7%

Liberal Arts

1.7%

Systems Engineering

0.8%
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Degrees

Other

48.6%

Associate

17.8%

Certificate

17.1%

Diploma

7.5%

Bachelors

6.8%

Masters

1.4%

License

0.7%
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Top Skills for A Heavy Truck Mechanic

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  1. Engine Repair
  2. Vehicle Maintenance
  3. Heavy Truck
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed maintenance and repairs of fleet of ambulances/heavy trucks with excellence in internal and external customer service.
  • Diagnosed malfunctions and performed corrective maintenance on diesel engines and power trains, chassis components of wheel vehicles.
  • Performed preventative maintenance on chemical tankers and tractors.
  • Performed electrical and electronic diagnostics troubleshooting and repair on the engine and transmissions.
  • Service Various Engines Caterpillar, Detroit, Cummins, International.

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Top Heavy Truck Mechanic Employers

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Jobs From Top Heavy Truck Mechanic Employers

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