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Become A Vehicle Mechanic

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Working As A Vehicle 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

  • $48,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Vehicle 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 Vehicle 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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Vehicle Mechanic Career Paths

Vehicle Mechanic
Mechanic Maintenance Technician Electrician
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Driver Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Aircraft Mechanic
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Specialist Operation Supervisor
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Technician Electrician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Technician Shop Foreman
Senior Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Lead Technician
Service Technician Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Technician Hvac Technician
Maintenance Technician Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Shop Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Hvac Technician Maintenance Lead Technician
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Shop Foreman Owner Facilities Manager
Assistant Chief Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Journeyman Electrician Maintenance Electrician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Engineering Technician Machinist Mate
Marine Mechanic
5 Yearsyrs
Automotive Technician Equipment Technician Equipment Maintenance Technician
Equipment Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Lead Mechanic Shop Supervisor
Repair Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Sergeant Senior Mechanic
Senior Maintenance Mechanic
9 Yearsyrs
Sergeant Electronics Technician Industrial Electrician
Plant Maintenance Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Vehicle Mechanic?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Master Mechanic 5.9 years
Senior Mechanic 4.9 years
Motor Mechanic 4.1 years
Vehicle Mechanic 4.0 years
Bus Mechanic 3.9 years
Fleet Mechanic 3.9 years
Track Mechanic 3.7 years
Diesel Mechanic 3.7 years
Mechanic 3.6 years
Tractor Mechanic 2.7 years
Junior Mechanic 2.4 years
Top Careers Before Vehicle Mechanic
Mechanic 16.4%
Cashier 7.4%
Technician 6.7%
Sergeant 3.1%
Top Careers After Vehicle Mechanic
Mechanic 13.9%
Technician 6.7%
Sergeant 3.7%
Supervisor 3.3%
Driver 2.8%

Do you work as a Vehicle Mechanic?

Average Yearly Salary
$48,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$32,000
Min 10%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$72,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
KBR
Highest Paying City
Medford, OR
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a Vehicle Mechanic make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Vehicle Mechanic in the United States is $48,745 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $32,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $72,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Vehicle Mechanic?

Have you worked as a Vehicle Mechanic? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Vehicle Mechanic.

Top Skills for A Vehicle Mechanic

  1. Vehicle Recovery Operations
  2. Diesel Engines
  3. Shop Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed and supervised wheeled vehicle recovery operations in a timely and safe manner.
  • Diagnosed malfunctions and performs and supervises corrective maintenance on diesel engines and power generating units.
  • Prevented shop safety violations and demonstrated safe working habits and procedures.
  • Repaired vehicle air cooling systems/vehicle liquid cooling systems, track hull electrical systems and automatic transmission assemblies.
  • Served in the Tactical Operations Center relating crucial information between military leaders in times of combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vehicle Mechanic Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 8,925 Vehicle Mechanic resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Vehicle Mechanic Resume

View Resume Examples

Vehicle Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

82.5%

Female

8.8%

Unknown

8.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.5%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

64.3%

French

5.4%

German

5.4%

Arabic

2.7%

Hindi

1.8%

Mandarin

1.8%

Korean

1.8%

Indonesian

1.8%

Vietnamese

1.8%

Russian

1.8%

Tagalog

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Cantonese

1.8%

Swahili

0.9%

Turkish

0.9%

Tibetan

0.9%

Kurdish

0.9%

Nepali

0.9%

Uzbek

0.9%

Sundanese

0.9%
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Vehicle Mechanic Education

Schools

Central Texas College

18.5%

Universal Technical Institute

16.6%

University of Phoenix

14.0%

Community College of the Air Force

4.7%

The Academy

4.5%

Fayetteville Technical Community College

4.0%

Kaplan University

3.9%

American University

3.6%

Columbia Southern University

3.3%

Pikes Peak Community College

3.1%

Colorado Technical University

2.9%

University of Maryland - University College

2.9%

Liberty University

2.7%

U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School

2.6%

Western Technical College

2.5%

El Paso Community College

2.2%

Ashford University

2.1%

Pierce College at Puyallup

2.0%

Grantham University

2.0%

North Central Institute

2.0%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

28.4%

Business

16.0%

Criminal Justice

9.9%

General Studies

9.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Computer Science

2.8%

Education

2.6%

Information Technology

2.6%

Mechanical Engineering

2.6%

Electrical Engineering

2.5%

Management

2.5%

Precision Metal Working

2.3%

Psychology

2.2%

Aviation

2.1%

Computer Information Systems

2.1%

Accounting

2.0%

Industrial Technology

2.0%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.0%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.7%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.6%
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Degrees

Other

41.0%

Associate

23.4%

Bachelors

19.1%

Certificate

9.0%

Diploma

4.1%

Masters

2.7%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.2%
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