Individuals can become diesel mechanics with just a high school education and on-the-job training but mechanics who have an associate degree may have a competitive edge above their peers who have no college training. Students will learn how to inspect, diagnose, and repair different kinds of diesel vehicles including trucks and heavy equipment. Associate degrees in diesel mechanics can be found at community colleges, four-year colleges, and vocational schools. While not as common as an associate degree or certification program, there are also bachelor's degrees available in the field for those who have already earned an associate and who wish to further their training.
Students can earn their associate degree in diesel mechanics in just two years by completing around 70 semester credit hours of study. An associate degree will equip students with current industry knowledge that will allow them to identify problems and make repairs. The courses designed to support these skills include diesel engine technology, fuel systems, introduction to hydraulics, heavy-duty brake systems, diesel preventive maintenance, diesel equipment air conditioning systems, and technical reporting. Students will also participate in labs, which will emulate real-world experiences and give them valuable hands-on practice. Graduates go on to work in entry-level positions and may hold occupation titles like diesel engine mechanic, heavy truck mechanic, and diesel technician. Applicants applying for this level of program will need to submit a copy of their high school transcripts or GED certificate. Annual tuition can range from as little as $5,000 to over $20,000.
Many schools offer diesel technology certificate degree programs as an option for students who aren't interested in completing a full degree program. Certificate programs typically consist of 30 to 50 credit hours of required study, which students can often complete in a year or less. This level of program offers classes such as diesel engine fundamentals, batteries and starting systems, ignition and computer systems, heavy vehicle hydraulics preventative maintenance and inspection, and truck steering systems. Many classes will also take place in repair shop settings in order to give students hands-on experience that will prepare them for their careers upon graduation. Individuals who have earned their certificate degree go on to work as entry-level diesel mechanics in a number of different settings. In order to qualify for this level of program applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Total cost of education for a certificate degree varies by program but will likely fall below $10,000.
While not as common as a certificate program or associate degree, some schools do offer bachelor's degree programs for aspiring diesel mechanics. These types of programs are typically aimed at individuals who have already earned an associate degree and who wish to transfer to a bachelor's program. After completing an associate degree, the bachelor's degree will take another two years to finish. Students will take courses in fuel systems, hydraulics, diagnostics, welding, writing, and math. They may also be able to choose a focus area such as field maintenance or equipment management. They will also have the opportunity to practice their skills in hands-on workshops. Jobs that graduates can enter include service manager, service technician, and shop foreman, and they may also be better poised to work in leadership or management positions. Admission to one of these programs will require an associate degree. Tuition will vary by program and may range from $5,000 to $20,000 a year.
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) is the main accrediting organization that reviews college level automobile repair programs for quality assurance. NATEF conducts reviews on certain program elements such as program structure, testing procedures, faculty, and student materials to ensure that each student is being well prepared for the real world. Individuals should highly consider accreditation to increase the potential of securing a solid career in their field upon graduation. Potential diesel mechanic students can find all necessary contact information on the NATEF website. NATEF can aid individuals in finding an accredited program that is right for them.
By law diesel mechanics do not have to be certified in order to become eligible to work but it is something that all professionals should consider. Certification provides employers with added confidence that their employees have made a continuous effort to advance their knowledge and skills. Certification is also a great way to keep up with the fast pace of industry technology. Diesel mechanics can seek certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE has many exams that professionals can sit for in which the eligibility requirements vary. The work experience requirements range between one and three years. Some exams may also require that the individual hold at minimum a two-year associate degree. Once the work requirements have been met the individual can then sit for the exam to become certified. Those who hold certifications must take the test again every five years in order to maintain certification.
There are many different areas within the industry that diesel mechanics can specialize in and receive certification for. In act, the ASE has certification tests for 16 different specialization areas. Some example tests include School Bus Certification, Truck Equipment Certification, Collision Repair and Refinish Certification, and Auto Maintenance and Light Repair Certification. Each of these tests will require different amounts of training and education. Diesel mechanics who are interested in receiving certification in one of these specialized areas can find specific information on the ASE website.
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