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What Is a Heavy-Duty Diesel Mechanic?

Dec 1, 2021 ·

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There are many essential roles in the skilled trades that help make possible the things we do and depend on every day. That includes skilled technicians and mechanics who are trained to work on vehicles and machinery used in a range of industries.

Heavy-duty diesel mechanics have the important role of working on equipment and vehicles that run on diesel engines. This can include anything from semitrucks to generators and other heavy equipment.

If you’re interested in training to pursue a career as a heavy-duty diesel mechanic, keep reading to find out more about the job and steps you can take.

Heavy-Duty Diesel Mechanic Job Description

Many vehicles use diesel engines, from semitrucks transporting goods and products across the country to buses that take people where they need to be. There are also many machines in the construction, agricultural and railway industries that utilize diesel technology.

Duties of a heavy-duty diesel mechanic can vary depending on the equipment or vehicle they’re working on, but common tasks include:

  • Diagnosing and repairing engines
  • Maintaining heavy-duty truck drivetrains and transmissions
  • Repairing air brakes
  • Reading diagrams and flow charts
  • Checking vehicle lighting systems
  • Recording and organizing records of serviced equipment
  • Testing vehicles and machines for performance and compliance
  • Replacing defective parts and components
  • Cleaning and maintaining equipment
  • Welding and fabrication (in some cases)

Being a heavy-duty diesel mechanic is a physical job that requires a lot of standing, climbing, crawling and walking for periods of time. Depending on what’s being worked on, heavy-duty diesel mechanics can also be exposed to varying weather conditions. It takes someone who has attention to detail and a tough work ethic to succeed in this role!

Heavy-Duty Diesel Mechanic Salary and Job Outlook

Before considering a new career, it helps to gather some basic information. Estimated salary and a general job outlook can be determining factors when making a decision.

Those getting started in the heavy-duty diesel mechanic field will likely need to begin in entry-level positions to gain experience working with these engines and machines. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a resource that can help provide an idea of what to expect for median annual salary in the field.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists in the United States was $54,360 in May 2022.29 This means half of diesel technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

There are more than 28,000 estimated average annual diesel job openings in the U.S.43 These skilled technicians help make daily tasks possible. Employers are on the lookout for those with the right blend of education and training to fill these roles!

How to Become a Heavy-Duty Diesel Mechanic

Once you’ve decided to pursue a career as a heavy-duty diesel mechanic, you’ll probably be wondering what your first step should be. It’s important to have hands-on experience and a quality education when looking for a job in the industry.

After getting your high school diploma or GED, attending a trade school can be a great way to gain the foundational knowledge that employers in the field are looking for.

The Diesel Technology program at Universal Technical Institute (UTI) helps teach students how to work on a range of commercial diesel vehicles and engines that are on the roads today. The program’s courses cover everything from engine services and repairs to preventative maintenance.

Some of the biggest names in the industry work alongside UTI to help train students in state-of-the-industry technology and practices. They include Navistar International Corp.; Daimler Trucks North America; Cummins, Inc.; Detroit Diesel Corporation, Caterpillar; Mack Trucks, Inc.; Mercedes Engines, Fendt, Peterbilt and Volvo Trucks North America.15

The Diesel Technology program is also Master Certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. Those graduating from the Diesel program can substitute their training for one of two years of work experience required to become ASE certified.16

An ASE certification can be beneficial when applying for jobs in the industry and can help make students stand out against others in the applicant pool. Students graduating from the Diesel program will be prepared for entry-level careers in the industry.1 Eventually, with time and experience, they could work their way into roles as heavy-duty diesel technicians.

Get Diesel Technology Training at UTI

Want to take the first step toward a career as a heavy-duty diesel mechanic? You can gain hands-on experience when you attend UTI’s Diesel Technology program. Train with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Peterbilt, Cummins and more.

Students also have the opportunity to take specialized training courses, which are developed in conjunction with leading manufacturers.11 These can teach you how to work on diesel vehicles and machinery using state-of-the-industry tools and equipment.

Students can graduate in as little as 45 weeks from the core program ready for an entry-level position in the industry.7 To find out more, request information today!

UTI Campuses That Offer Diesel Mechanic Training

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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.

11) See program details for eligibility requirements and conditions that may apply.

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.

16) Not all programs are accredited by the ASE Education Foundation.

29) UTI’s Diesel Technology Program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as diesel technicians. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as diesel truck technicians, including in industries such as heavy equipment repair, power generation, and agriculture. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists (49-3031) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $32,360 to $94,400 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled diesel technicians in North Carolina is $24.18 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $20.56 and $17.49, respectively.

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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