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How To Become A Diesel Mechanic

Aug 7, 2023 ·

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Did you know the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates there will be more than 28,000 average annual bus and truck mechanic and diesel engine specialist job openings and truck mechanic and diesel engine specialist job openings in the United States?43 These job openings may be found across several essential industries, including trucking and transportation, power generation and agriculture. 

If you’re interested in developing in-demand skills that play a vital role in our society, keep reading. 

In this blog post, we’ll share what there is to know before becoming a diesel mechanic, including industry requirements, how to become a certified mechanic, where to receive training and how long it typically takes. 

Requirements for Becoming a Diesel Mechanic 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some employers are willing to train high school graduates without any experience, but an increasing number of employers prefer candidates who have attended a diesel mechanic school. 

Diesel schools provide students with hands-on experience maintaining, diagnosing and repairing equipment and may require less on-the-job training than applicants who have not attended a technical program. They also may be better prepared to fulfill common diesel tech duties, such as: 

  • Reading technical charts and manuals 
  • Reading work orders and determining a plan
  • Conducting and interpreting diagnostic test results 
  • Performing routine maintenance such as changing oil, rotating tires and checking fluids 
  • Evaluating brake, steering and transmission systems 
  • Repairing and replacing faulty components 

Diesel is an ever-evolving field with increasingly complex engines and electrical systems. Therefore, becoming a diesel mechanic requires comfort with technology. A diesel mechanic school, like the one at Universal Technical Institute (UTI), teaches students to use industry-standard tools and technologies, promoting career readiness. 

In addition to a fundamental skill set, aspiring entry-level diesel mechanics may benefit from displaying the following traits

  • Safety-oriented: Diesel techs service large, complex equipment that can be dangerous if not treated with caution. Attending a diesel school can help you develop a safety-oriented work style that employers value. 
  • Personable: Diesel mechanics must communicate with customers, co-workers, managers and vendors to adequately complete their duties. 
  • Love for learning: Many successful diesel techs jump on opportunities to sharpen their skill sets. This can look like asking questions, keeping up with industry standards or taking the initiative to learn about new technology within the field. 
  • Adaptability: A diesel mechanics’ work week can be filled with variety. The ability to shift gears and work on differing projects is crucial. 
  • Problem-solving skills: Diesel engines are intricate and powerful. Repairing them requires careful attention to detail and the ability to think outside of the box. 

Attending a technical school can help aspiring mechanics sharpen these traits. It can also help prepare them to test for industry certifications after graduation.

Diesel Mechanic Certifications 

The BLS states that obtaining certification may help validate an applicant’s skills and experience to potential employers. 

Many diesel mechanics work toward Automotive Service Excellencelence (ASE) certification – an industry-standard credential that demonstrates experience, professionalism and trustworthiness. It also displays initiative and may provide opportunities for advancement. So, how do you become ASE certified

The first step could be enrolling in a diesel mechanic school committed to preparing students for ASE certification exams. UTI’s diesel mechanic program is accredited by the ASE Education Foundation and helps students develop the industry-aligned knowledge ASE tests for. 

Graduates can also substitute their education for one of the two years of hands-on experience ASE requires to test.18 Having this experience under your belt before becoming a diesel mechanic may prove valuable to employers.

ASE offers several diesel certifications for medium-heavy truck technicians, including: 

T1 – Gasoline Engines 

T2 – Diesel Engines 

T3 – Drive Train 

T4 – Brakes 

T5 – Suspension & Steering

T6 – Electrical/Electronic Systems 

T7 – Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC)

T8 – Preventive Maintenance Inspection 

Medium-heavy truck techs who achieve T2-T8 certification are eligible for Master Technician Certification. Other common ASE certification exams for diesel techs include the School Bus and Transit Bus Certification test series.  

Where Can I Learn to Become a Diesel Mechanic? 

As the BLS reports, more and more diesel employers may lean toward applicants with postsecondary education. Therefore, maybe the best place to learn how to become a diesel mechanic is at a trade school. But, not just any trade school! 

There are a few ways to choose the right diesel mechanic school for you, but one thing every aspiring mechanic should look for from a training program is strong industry relationships

A diesel school with strong industry relationships has likely crafted a curriculum that helps students build in-demand skills. The diesel school at UTI has relationships with brands like Cummins, Daimler Trucks North America, Fendt and Peterbilt to create courses that directly reflect the industry’s current needs. 

These brands donate vehicles, tools and technologies to our labs so that students can gain relevant hands-on practice. They’ve also helped UTI offer manufacturer-specific advanced training (MSAT) programs. Once eligible students complete the core diesel courses, they can enroll in an MSAT to further sharpen their skill sets and get prepared to pursue entry-level roles with leading brands. Specialized diesel training options at UTI include: 

How Long Does It Take to Become a Diesel Mechanic?

Now that we've answered how to become a diesel mechanic, you’re probably wondering, “How long does it take to become a diesel mechanic?” The answer to this question depends on many factors, including whether or not you take the trade school route. 

As previously mentioned, some aspiring mechanics get their foot in the door without any formal training. While some employers are willing to train these candidates from the ground up, developing their skill sets may take much longer. The BLS reports that those without a postsecondary education typically require three to four years before they can begin diagnosing diesel engines and be considered journey-level. 

However, diesel mechanic schools typically last one to two years. The Diesel Technology program at UTI is just 45 weeks!7 Students learn in a structured environment staffed with experienced instructors who have varying backgrounds and can provide students with unique perspectives on how to succeed. 

UTI also offers a wide range of support services, including Career Services, which include: 

  • Résumé development 
  • Interview training 
  • Career development classes 
  • Career coaching

Perhaps most utilized is our nationwide employer database. UTI’s career service specialists have connections with employers across the U.S. and can help students identify potential opportunities near the end of their education or after graduation.1 

How to Become a Diesel Mechanic FAQ 

Is becoming a diesel mechanic hard? 

This path requires dedication but is achievable with the right resources and assistance from passionate mentors like the ones at UTI. In fact, UTI’s diesel program doesn’t require any previous experience to attend. We pride ourselves on building students’ knowledge from the ground up. 


What is the highest-paying diesel mechanic career?  

According to the BLS, the highest-paid diesel mechanics work in the Scheduled Air Transportation industry. 


What is the difference between a diesel mechanic and a diesel technician? 

The terms are often used interchangeably, but some suggest that a diesel technician may have more advanced training in electrical systems. Generally, both diagnose, maintain and repair diesel engines and their related systems. 

Learn How to Become a Diesel Mechanic at UTI Today 

Becoming a diesel mechanic is an accomplishment we want to help you achieve. If you’re ready to get started, request more information, fill out a diesel school application online or schedule a tour at one of the campuses below:

You’ll be able to meet instructors, walk through our industry-standard labs and ask more questions.

With classes starting every 3-6 weeks, no need to wait to start your career.
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.

15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation. Programs available at select locations.

18) UTI now offers all of its automotive, diesel, motorcycle and marine technician training in a blended learning format consisting of online lecture courses along with in-person, hands-on lab training.

43) For Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an annual average of 28,500 job openings between 2021 and 2031. Job openings include openings due to net employment changes and net replacements. See Table 1.10 Occupational separations and openings, projected 2021-31, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, viewed October 13, 2022. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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