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If you’re interested in a career as a diesel technician, you may be wondering what type of technical education program would best prepare you for your career.
On one hand, an automotive program with a manufacturer-specific advanced training program (MSAT) such as Ford or GM can set you up for a career as a technician in a dealership, where you could specialize on diesel vehicles. On the other hand, you can attend a diesel technician program and focus on heavy equipment.
When considering a career in the diesel industry, it’s important to understand the different types of diesel technicians and the specific kinds of equipment they work on. Keep reading to learn all about the differences between light-duty and heavy-duty diesel technicians and what type of career path may be right for you:
Before moving further down the path toward a decision about which type of technician career to pursue, it may help to define some of the terms. Definitions for light-duty vs. heavy-duty diesel may vary slightly, but for the purposes of deciding on which program best lines up with your goals, the following is a good starting point:
Automotive dealerships often have technicians that specialize in one service area or another. For example, you may have a technician who is an expert in electrical diagnosis or you may have someone who is the drivetrain specialist.
If your goal is to work on diesel pickups like Ford F-Series or Ram Trucks in a dealership or aftermarket shop, that is quite different than someone who has the goal to work on big rigs, buses or industrial power generation equipment.
Choosing an educational path is a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly. Asking yourself the following questions may help you decide what will work best for you:
While some technicians desire to work bumper to bumper on light-duty diesel vehicles, others prefer working on over the road trucks or heavy equipment. The daily tasks are different, and the education is different as well. Do you have a preference? What setting do you see yourself being most comfortable in and most satisfied with?
Power generation engines and heavy-duty industrial equipment may have the same engine internals as diesel powered passenger vehicles, but the daily tasks for the technicians that service these items varies greatly. Take the time to investigate your preferences and goals is before enrolling in a training program.
Depending where you live, the demand for diesel technicians may lean more heavily toward light-duty rather than heavy-duty work.
For example, urban areas may have fewer drivers with diesel powered pickup trucks, but they may be closer to industrial opportunities for big rig and heavy equipment technicians such as truck stops or shipping ports. On the other hand, suburban and rural areas can have a higher ratio of light-duty diesel trucks on the road, but may not have the same opportunities for heavy equipment technicians.
Not everyone is interested in or able to explore relocation for their careers. Family or other commitments may restrict the flexibility for moving. If that is the case for you, consider your immediate area and research the demand for technicians.
Demand for diesel technicians can be high due to the various settings in which a technician may be needed. Heavy-duty diesel technicians may be needed to work on heavy equipment, big rigs, marine applications, power generation and more.
Maintaining fleet vehicles such as buses or tractor trailers is one avenue to pursue. Another avenue is a field service technician who travels to customer locations to diagnose and repair heavy equipment for farming or agricultural needs.
As with any career, automotive and diesel technicians must consider their long-term goals and whether or not they align with their chosen industry.
Is your goal to work your way up to lead technician, or maybe become a service manager? Perhaps you see yourself owning a small business repair shop after gaining experience in the field. Some other career options that experienced technicians often pursue include:
Depending on your long-term career goals, try to select a training program that will best put you in a position to achieve them. For example, a diesel training program is more specialized and can prepare you for a career working on heavy-duty equipment, while an automotive program with a diesel specialized training program is a bit broader and can lead to a career in a dealership working on light-duty equipment.
One route isn’t better than the other—they both have advantages that are specific to certain career paths. It’s all about choosing a program that aligns with the career path you envision for yourself!
Do you dream of pursuing a career in the automotive or diesel industry? Universal Technical Institute offers a variety of core and specialized training programs that can prepare you for a career you love. Visit our trade school programs page to explore all we offer at UTI, and request more information to get in touch with one of our admissions representatives today!
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
2) For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, and to review the applicable Gainful Employment disclosure, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
6) UTI graduates' achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI’s Custom Training Group on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.