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Become A Mechanic

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Working As A 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

  • $39,524

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Mechanic Career Paths

Mechanic
Forklift Operator Operator Production Supervisor
Assistant Plant Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Lieutenant Executive Officer
Chief Of Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
12 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Technician Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Supervisor Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assembler Forklift Operator Carpenter
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Operator Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Driver Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician
Lead Mechanic
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Technician Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Technician Mechanics Supervisor
Mechanic/Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Operator Technician Maintenance Technician
Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Electrician Foreman General Foreman
Mechanical Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Assembler Electronics Technician Mechanical Technician
Mechanics Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Hvac Technician Maintenance Technician
Senior Maintenance Technician
9 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Delivery Driver Service Technician
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Mechanic?

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Do you work as a Mechanic?

Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

94.2%

Female

4.8%

Unknown

1.0%
Ethnicity

White

63.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.4%

French

6.4%

Carrier

5.4%

German

3.8%

Russian

2.6%

Arabic

2.4%

Polish

1.9%

Korean

1.6%

Japanese

1.6%

Dakota

1.6%

Portuguese

1.4%

Cherokee

0.9%

Italian

0.9%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Chinese

0.7%

Hindi

0.7%

Swahili

0.5%

Vietnamese

0.5%

Cheyenne

0.5%

Greek

0.5%
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Mechanic Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

26.2%

University of Phoenix

9.7%

University of Northwestern Ohio

7.6%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

6.5%

Central Texas College

5.6%

Community College of the Air Force

5.1%

The Academy

4.3%

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

4.0%

WyoTech - Laramie

3.5%

Lincoln Technical Institute

2.9%

Vincennes University

2.9%

Ashford University

2.8%

Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

2.7%

NASCAR Technical Institute

2.5%

A-Technical College

2.5%

Arizona Automotive Institute

2.3%

Trident Technical College

2.3%

National Aviation Academy A & P School

2.3%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

2.2%

Liberty University

2.2%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

30.9%

Business

10.8%

Aviation

7.5%

Precision Metal Working

5.1%

Electrical Engineering

4.9%

General Studies

4.9%

Mechanical Engineering

4.2%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.0%

Criminal Justice

3.8%

Industrial Technology

3.8%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

Education

2.2%

Management

1.9%

Engineering

1.8%

Drafting And Design

1.4%

Accounting

1.4%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

1.3%
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Degrees

Other

47.3%

Associate

19.0%

Bachelors

14.1%

Certificate

11.4%

Diploma

4.9%

Masters

2.1%

License

1.0%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Real Mechanic Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
A&P Mechanic Hyannis Air Service Inc. Mar 17, 2016 $66,997
Amusement Ride Mechanic Casco, Inc. WI Sep 20, 2014 $66,012
Avionics Mechanic Hyannis Air Service, Inc. Dec 15, 2015 $60,899
Mechanic (Industrial) V&V Construction, Inc. Bowie, MD Jun 22, 2016 $57,387
Mechanic A&S Auto Service Inc. Woodbridge, VA Jul 11, 2012 $55,994
Avionics Mechanic Hyannis Air Service, Inc. May 16, 2016 $53,845 -
$60,961
Mechanic Corcorans Mobile Service Houston, TX Apr 15, 2010 $52,175
Mechanic (Industrial) V&V Construction Inc. Bowie, MD Aug 25, 2015 $51,792
Mechanic Lourenco Contracting Co. Inc. Hazlet, NJ Feb 22, 2016 $51,376
Mechanic Baranko Bros Inc. Dickinson, ND Apr 10, 2016 $51,340
Trencher Mechanic Techcon Trenching, Inc. Johnson City, TX Mar 30, 2012 $50,856 -
$75,000
Mechanic Nutley Street Exxon Inc. Fairfax, VA Mar 19, 2015 $47,757
Avionics Mechanic Hyannis Air Service, Inc. Dec 15, 2012 $47,291
DOA Mechanic Bonded Logic, Inc. AZ Nov 01, 2013 $46,582
Dry Wall Mechanic Jet Construction Co., Inc. Fredericksburg, VA May 14, 2010 $41,302
Mechanic Jet Auto World, Inc. Davie, FL Aug 08, 2016 $41,267
Mechanic Wilston Exxon Station Falls Church, VA Dec 18, 2009 $40,801
Mechanic Ballston Center Exxon Arlington, VA Oct 30, 2007 $40,801
Mechanic Reliable Auto Repair Center Inc. Chicago, IL May 28, 2008 $40,655
Mechanic G&W Auto, Inc. Swampscott, MA Nov 23, 2010 $39,770
Licensed A & P Mechanic Stewart Industries International Roswell Roswell, NM Apr 25, 2016 $39,653 -
$41,740
A & P Mechanic Stewart Industries International, LLC Roswell, NM Jun 27, 2016 $39,653
Mechanics Gioiva Corp. DBA. Liberty Limousine Stamford, CT Aug 12, 2008 $36,272
Mechanic Charter Express Inc. Raleigh, NC Sep 30, 2008 $36,000
Mechanic Mountain Top Ventures, LLC CO Apr 01, 2013 $34,436
Mechanic Hobby Products International, Inc. CA Apr 01, 2015 $34,060
Mechanic Winding Road Construction Inc. KS Jun 01, 2015 $33,392

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Top Skills for A Mechanic

  1. Vehicle Maintenance
  2. Order Parts
  3. Preventative Maintenance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided a full range of administrative support for a high-volume military diesel vehicle maintenance facility.
  • Cut out CV joints, U-joints, and Spleens with cutting torch Order parts and restock warehouse Ship and receive orders.
  • Perform routine and preventative maintenance to company aircraft in a hangar overnight environment.
  • Replace Ford F-250-350-450-550 Diesel engines and transmissions in times that is under the labor rate guide specified by Ford Motor Company.
  • Monitor aircraft modification teams for proper maintenance/safety procedures, collect, analyze, interpret and develop specialized information about equipment.

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Top 10 Best States for Mechanics

  1. Alaska
  2. North Dakota
  3. Nevada
  4. Connecticut
  5. Montana
  6. Colorado
  7. Wyoming
  8. Hawaii
  9. Minnesota
  10. District of Columbia
  • (92 jobs)
  • (161 jobs)
  • (216 jobs)
  • (368 jobs)
  • (149 jobs)
  • (1,204 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (99 jobs)
  • (779 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)

Top Mechanic Employers

Jobs From Top Mechanic Employers

Mechanic Videos

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Aircraft Mechanic Salary - Aircraft Mechanic Shows His Paycheck

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