What Is the Average Salary for Entry-Level Diesel Mechanic Jobs?

Diesel mechanics maintain and repair large trucks, buses, bulldozers, cranes and farming equipment. If you think this sounds like an interesting job description, read on to learn more about possible salaries, job duties and training requirements for an entry-level diesel mechanic. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

Entry-level diesel mechanics usually perform basic maintenance procedures. You may perform more complicated tasks as you gain experience, such as diagnose and repair engine problems, replace worn out components of braking and cooling systems, or troubleshoot electrical problems.

Education Requirements

Many aspiring diesel mechanics learn the skills they need by enrolling in a community or technical college's training program. The length of your training might vary depending on whether you're earning a certificate, diploma or associate's degree in diesel mechanics or a related field, but most programs can be completed in six months to two years. Your classes will likely include hands-on and classroom instruction in electrical systems, air conditioning systems and brake systems. You'll also learn how to properly diagnose, repair and rebuild a diesel engine.

Salary Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual salary for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists as of May 2012 was $43,660 (www.bls.gov). The bottom 10 percent of these workers earned $26,820 a year or less, and the top 10 percent earned $63,250 a year or higher. When you first start out, your earnings may be less than the average. PayScale.com reported that most diesel mechanics with less than one year of experience earned between $9.72 and $13.36 per hour as of January 2014.

Salary by Industry

In May 2012, the BLS reported that the top employers of bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists were general freight trucking and local government, with average wages of $39,940 and $50,640, respectively. Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and supplies merchant wholesalers had annual average wage of $43,800, while the automotive repair and maintenance industry had an average wage of $40,260. Employing just 60 workers each in May 2012, water transportation and the federal executive government paid these workers the highest average salaries of $79,250 and $68,800, respectively.

Salary by Location

According to May 2012 data from the BLS, bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists made the highest average wages in Hawaii ($58,420), Alaska ($55,910), Wyoming ($54,710), Nevada ($53,360) and Connecticut ($52,490). Workers made below-average wages of $24,270-$39,180 in several states, including South Carolina, Montana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Alabama and West Virginia.

Salary by Certification

As a diesel mechanic, you may earn higher wages if you're certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). According to January 2014 figures on PayScale.com, most diesel mechanics with ASE certification earned between $23,422 and $65,000 annually. However, you'll need at least two years of work experience to sit for an ASE certification exam in an area such as electronic diesel engine diagnosis or truck equipment. If you pass all available tests in an area, you can become a master technician. Diesel technicians with the ASE Master Technician certification earned hourly wages of $15.32-$29.16 in January 2014, according to PayScale.com.

Job Outlook

According to the BLS, diesel service technician and mechanic employment should grow at a comparatively average rate of nine percent over the 2012-2022 decade. However, there may be some negative effects on growth due to trucks and buses being more durable. Overall, the BLS expects good prospects for qualified mechanics who possess formal education and training.

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