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Diesel technicians, commonly referred to as diesel mechanics, inspect, repair and overhaul diesel-powered vehicles. They are trained to maintain and repair any type of diesel engine. From oil changes and tire rotations to complete engine rebuilds, diesel technicians can do it all.

Becoming a diesel mechanic requires specific training, experience and skills. Here at Universal Technical Institute, we’ve found that successful diesel mechanics share many of the same traits that allow them to do their job well.

Keep reading to learn about 7 traits of successful diesel technicians.

Analytical Skills

Do you love investigating problems and finding solutions? This is a big part of what a diesel technician does.

Diesel technicians are trained to identify problems in the diesel systems they work on. Their in-depth knowledge of engine operations and the different components that come together to make diesel systems run allows them to spot problems that the average person might miss.

Their work doesn’t stop here, however--once they’ve diagnosed the problem, they are responsible for finding and executing the solution. Whether this means completing a simple oil change or doing a full-on engine rebuild, diesel technicians are always up for the challenge.

UTI diesel instructor Adam Schmeel turned his passion for working on diesel engines into a career. He’s always pushing his students and encouraging them to take on new challenges in order to become the best technicians they can be. One of his favorite things to do is go out to the local Sacramento drag strip and challenge UTI students to bracket races. Check out his story below:

Comfortable With Technology

Thanks to technology, today’s diesel industry looks dramatically different than it has in years past. The modern diesel engine uses primarily electronic equipment, which requires technicians to know how to work with the electrical components and computer programs that run the engines of the systems they repair. They must know how to use electronic diagnostic equipment and interpret data from complex systems.

Diesel technicians must stay up-to-date with new technology so they can utilize it to do their job. In addition to being comfortable with technology, it’s important for them to have a desire to learn in order to keep pace with this ever-evolving industry.

Math Skills

Diesel technicians use math on the job every day. However, if you don’t consider yourself to be a mathematician, don’t panic. The type of math used by technicians has more to do with being comfortable using decimals, fractions and basic number calculations. This allows technicians to calculate measurements and mileage quickly and efficiently--ultimately making their job easier.

Think on Your Feet

The most successful diesel technicians can adapt to changing situations and have the ability to think on their feet. This is a fast-paced industry, and technicians often have to diagnose problems and repair engines on the spot.

Relying on their industry knowledge and experience, technicians are able to diagnose, repair and troubleshoot efficiently without missing a single detail. Techs who possess this quality gain the trust of their customers, peers and employers.


Desire to Learn

Successful diesel technicians are always looking for new opportunities to learn and gain new skills. Training is essential to keeping up with industry changes and staying relevant in the workforce.

In addition to completing specialized diesel training like UTI’s Diesel Technology program, technicians can learn from older, experienced technicians in the field. This is a hands-on career, which requires hands-on training and practice. There’s no better way to dive in than to invest in yourself through training, gain real-world experience on the job and ask plenty of questions along the way.

In order to demonstrate their desire to learn and master their craft, diesel technicians can test for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Becoming ASE certified can be of great benefit when applying for jobs, as it demonstrates your ability to potential employers.


Safety is incredibly important in the transportation industry, especially when it comes to diesel. These technicians work with large, powerful equipment that can be potentially dangerous without proper safety procedures in place.

Diesel technicians are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe work environment, which requires wearing the right gear including protective eyewear, disconnecting the battery when working on electrical systems and cleaning their work area and surrounding areas thoroughly.

People Skills

While a majority of a diesel technician’s time is spent under the hood and chassis, they also must be able to effectively communicate with their customers, vendors, parts suppliers and fellow technicians. Successful diesel technicians are able to work with all different personalities, which allows them to collaborate with others in the workplace and most importantly, keep their customers happy.

Building and maintaining positive relationships with those around them is critical to the success of a diesel technician. Not only does it make their job easier and more enjoyable, but it can help them to go far in the industry and pave the way to career advancement, such as by taking on a manager role. While understanding the mechanical side of the career is important, having this in addition to great people skills is a powerful combination.

Train to Become a Diesel Technician

Does this sound like a career you would enjoy? With relationships with 35+ leading brands, employers and aftermarket companies, Universal Technical Institute is a great choice for your diesel training. UTI’s 45-week Diesel Technology program can provide you with the fundamentals you need to service powerful trucks and engines. After completing your core program, you can continue your training with programs created in conjunction with leading manufacturers, including:

To learn more about what a future at UTI could look like, request information today.

Want to Learn More About the Diesel Technology Program?

If you're interested in learning how you can register for the Diesel Technology program Just click the link below or call (800) 834-7308 to speak with one of our friendly Admissions Representatives.