How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in California
On any freeway from San Diego to San Francisco, you will find different types of diesel-powered vehicles. Trucks carrying produce, fuel or even other vehicles are quite common. Buses are seen on the freeways as well, carrying passengers along designated routes or to specific destinations, such as ballgames or casinos. Because of the number of diesel engine vehicles on the road, there is a definite demand for diesel mechanics in California.
Choosing to become a diesel mechanic involves commitment and a willingness to get your hands dirty. Communication proficiency, problem solving abilities and attention to detail are some of the skills that would be used on a daily basis. This is a multifaceted career that involves everything from changing tires and brakes to completely overhauling diesel engines and everything in between.
Requirements for Becoming a Diesel Mechanic in California
As with most careers, education beyond a high school diploma is typically required in order to have the best opportunities as a diesel mechanic. Trade schools and colleges throughout California offer programs that teach the skills required to assess, evaluate, repair and maintain diesel vehicles. Programs can vary in length, as some schools offer specialized programs beyond their standard curriculum. There is often financial aid available, including scholarships. Job placement assistance is offered at some schools upon completion of their diesel mechanic programs as well.
This is a career that requires excellent fine motor skills, visual acuity and the ability to work in less than comfortable positions for a majority of the day. A career as a diesel mechanic could be ideal for someone with a curious nature who enjoys solving problems and working with their hands.
Training Options for Diesel Mechanics in California
In order to be considered for the best jobs available as a diesel mechanic in California, formal education with hands-on training is required. In addition to learning about the diesel engines themselves, courses are quite comprehensive and cover everything from top to bottom, from fluid changes to tire changes and everything in between. Some diesel mechanic programs available in California are:
- Universal Technical Institute. Offering locations with diesel mechanic programs in Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga and Sacramento, there are opportunities to complete their core year-long program, as well as to enroll in specialized training specific to particular manufacturers. The core program includes courses in climate control, hydraulic systems and preventative maintenance, as well as electronic systems and technology.
- San Diego Miramar College. Students can choose from three options to obtain a certificate or from two options to earn an Associate of Science degree. There are nine specialties to choose from, including Diesel Engine Overhaul Technician and Truck and Bus Fleet Service Technician.
Certification of Diesel Mechanics in California
It is not a requirement within the state of California to hold a license, but certification from National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is often listed as a preferred qualification among employers. This can lead to better opportunities and better pay. Diesel mechanics who pass multiple tests for ASE certifications have the opportunity to earn ASE Master Status.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations in California for Diesel Mechanics
Within the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the diesel service technician and mechanic field is expected to grow by a rate of approximately 5 percent, which is steady but moderate growth. Within the state of California, CareerOneStop expects growth within this field of approximately 13 percent during the ten years between 2016 and 2026.
In May 2018, the median annual salary for diesel mechanics in California was $56,830. This means that half of all those who held this position earned more and half earned less. The hourly mean rate of pay during 2018 was $27.32. In some parts of northern California, such as San Jose and Santa Clara, those numbers are a bit higher at $33.58 hourly and $69,840 annually.
Working as a Diesel Mechanic in California
Choosing a career as a diesel mechanic means choosing a varied list of duties. It’s not likely that two days will be the same. Some days might be slower and include oil and tire changes, while others involve repairing a refrigeration system, a hydraulic system or an engine.
There are lots of smells and sounds unique to working as a diesel mechanic. Welding and being able to lift heavy parts are often expected. Work can be found with a large company seeking to maintain their fleet, with a family-owned business or a company somewhere in between. Within the state of California, there should be opportunities throughout much of the state, particularly near shipping hubs and larger cities, such as San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.