How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Alabama
Diesel mechanics, or diesel technicians, are responsible for maintaining and repairing diesel engines. Diesel engines are usually found in trucks, buses, bulldozers and cranes. Some boats also have diesel engines. Diesel mechanics make both minor and major repairs to these engines. They might work on all types of diesel engines or just on one type, such as only buses or boats.
Some tasks that diesel mechanics might perform include examining the engine to determine and plan what work will be required, inspecting brakes, steering systems and transmissions in addition to engines, reading and interpreting diagnostic results, repairing or replacing parts and performing essential maintenance. Diesel mechanics might use laptops or handheld computers to detect engine problems. They also use other handheld and power tools, including wrenches, welding equipment and ratchets.
What Does it take to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Alabama?
To work as a diesel mechanic in Alabama, a high school diploma or GED is usually required, along with a valid driver’s license. Some employers may prefer to hire a mechanic who has a CDL. Certification and technical school training are not mandatory to work as a diesel mechanic in the state, but many employers may prefer those as well. Most training can be done on the job, but if you are starting out and don’t know another mechanic who could take you under their wing, completing some postsecondary training is wise.
Personal requirements for the job include the ability to lift heavy objects and to work in awkward positions, including squatting, crouching and bending. This job also requires a lot of walking and standing, and you may often be exposed to extreme weather and sometimes hazardous materials.
Diesel Mechanic Training in Alabama
Most diesel mechanics in Alabama only have a high school diploma or equivalent and don’t have any other formal training. However, since this can be a competitive job field, having training may help you to get hired, since you will already be equipped with the knowledge to do the job and not need additional training. Completing a formal education may also mean higher pay. There are a few programs in Alabama that can prepare you to work as a diesel mechanic, including:
- Shelton State Community College. Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa offers a diesel mechanic program that trains students to work on diesel engines through instruction and hands-on laboratories. Classes are offered both full- and part-time. There are three certificates you can earn through this program: You can earn a short-term certificate in basic or advanced maintenance, which both take 15 credit hours to complete, or an engine specialist certificate, which takes 12 credit hours to complete. The official certificate in diesel mechanics at Shelton State can be completed in 52 credit hours. The certificate program consists of general education courses in addition to the diesel mechanics curriculum.
- Lawson State Community College. Located in Birmingham, Lawson State has a medium/heavy-duty truck technology program that prepares students to work on diesel-powered equipment and trucks. The curriculum consists of in-class and lab courses, as well as opportunities to work in mechanics shops to get hands-on experience. This program offers three pathways: an associate training degree, a certificate program and a short-term certificate program.
- Gadsden State Community College. Gadsden State’s diesel technology program equips students with the minimum knowledge and skills needed to work as an entry-level diesel mechanic. This is a certificate program and can be completed in 56 credit hours. Fifty of these hours are technical, and six are general education hours. Students must be at least 17 years old to enroll in this program.
Diesel Mechanic Licensing and Certification in Alabama
You don’t have to get a license or earn any certification to work as a diesel mechanic in Alabama.
However, doing so will show employers that you are dedicated to working in the job field. You may also find that you have more employment opportunities and better pay if you are certified.
Certification as a diesel mechanic can be obtained through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. You must have two years of work experience, or one-year work experience and a two-year degree, as well as pass the ASE certification test to receive certification.
Job and Salary Outlook for Diesel Mechanics in Alabama
As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, diesel mechanics in Alabama were making a median annual salary of $43,830 in 2018. The average hourly pay for this career that same year was $21.07. Those with more education or who hold certification can make as much as $62,180 annually.
The job field for diesel mechanics is expected to see a 9.4 percent increase in the number of jobs available in the state by the year 2026. This is right on track with the expected national increase of 9.3 percent.
Working as a Diesel Mechanic in Alabama
If you are looking for a job that doesn’t require a lot of training but offers job security, you should consider working as a diesel mechanic in Alabama. Be prepared to work in multiple positions, sometimes crouching or bending and often standing for long periods. You will also be working with a mix of hand and power tools, so you should be comfortable working with both.
Diesel mechanics might find work at truck dealerships, transportation companies or school districts. They may also work in privately owned shops or operate their own shops. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a job anywhere throughout the state. However, you may want to start your job search in some of the larger cities such as Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery.