How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Arkansas
If you enjoy the idea of a hands-on, fast-paced job in the automotive industry, you may want to consider becoming a diesel mechanic. In this role, you’ll troubleshoot, maintain and repair diesel engines, which are used to operate a number of heavy machinery items in the farming, transportation, construction and other industries. Diesel mechanics use computer diagnostics and welding equipment, among many other tools, to ensure that these engines are running smoothly. The job also requires the use of mechanical knowledge and strong analytical skills, making for a challenging but rewarding career.
Prerequisites for Beginning Work
The state of Arkansas does not require the licensing of diesel mechanics. However, many employers require at least a high school degree or GED for consideration. You can also obtain a certificate or associate’s degree in diesel technology from a community college or technical school, or receive on-the-job training from your employer. Additional certifications, while not necessary, are available to mechanics who would like official recognition of their abilities.
Degree Programs in Arkansas
Mechanics interested in learning the basics of their trade before seeking work can enroll in one of the following training programs:
- Arkansas State University. ASU’s Newport and Beebe campuses offer technical certificates in diesel technology and truck service and maintenance. Both programs take less than one year to complete and include hands-on experience.
- Pulaski Technical College. Part of the University of Arkansas system, Pulaski Tech offers certificates in diesel technology and tractor and trailer servicing. Students in these programs learn how to repair and maintain a variety of equipment in addition to workplace safety and tractor/trailer operation.
- Northwest Technical Institute. The medium and heavy truck technology program at Northwest Technical Institute runs for two years and uses both classroom and hands-on instruction to teach students about preventive maintenance, testing procedures and problem diagnosis, among other skills.
You can begin working as a diesel mechanic without obtaining official licensing or certification. However, many choose to obtain their National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification to demonstrate their advanced skills to potential employers and clients. The ASE is a well-respected organization within the field and awards certifications to mechanics who have completed two years of relevant work experience and passed one or more of 50 available exams, which cover a variety of specializations.
Salary and Career Expectations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that diesel mechanics in Arkansas can expect an average annual salary of $40,440, or about $19.45 per hour.
Job growth, meanwhile, is expected to total 12.1 percent during the 10 years to 2026, according to the Projections Managing Partnership. This is well above the national average of 9.3 percent during the same time period for this job field.
Working as a Diesel Mechanic in Arkansas
Diesel mechanics work with cars, trucks, farm equipment and more. Jobs in the automotive field are the most common, though a variety of specializations are available. The majority of jobs will be available in repair shops in urban areas, such as Little Rock, though roles in more rural farming areas may also be available. Diesel mechanics may also find success as independent contractors or business owners.
Businesses often keep extended hours to allow for emergency repairs. However, if you are looking for a dynamic career that encourages problem solving and hands-on work on a daily basis, a career as a diesel mechanic may be for you.