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How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Iowa

Agriculture is the heartbeat of Iowa. The state is known for corn, cattle, soybeans and dairy. As a result, choosing a job as a diesel mechanic could provide a variety of opportunities for employment. Big rigs are used to move livestock, grain and dairy, and companies like Pella, a window manufacturer, and Hy-Vee, a grocery chain, use them to transport products to other areas. Their fleets would no doubt need to be maintained.

Choosing to become a diesel mechanic involves becoming educated in a wide array of topics, including electricity, refrigeration, welding and hydraulics. 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 complex and exciting career that involves all aspects of repairing and maintaining diesel vehicles and equipment.

Requirements for Becoming a Diesel Mechanic in Iowa

Only a high school diploma or GED equivalent is required to become a diesel mechanic, but additional education is preferred by employers. Trade schools and colleges throughout Iowa offer programs that teach the skills needed to repair and maintain diesel vehicles. Programs can vary in length, as some schools offer specialized programs beyond their standard curriculum. There is typically 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, good physical health and flexibility. A career as a diesel mechanic could be ideal for someone with the desire to have a career where no two days or weeks are alike.

Training Options for Diesel Mechanics in Iowa

In order to be considered for the best jobs available as a diesel mechanic in Iowa, formal education with hands-on training is required. Courses are quite comprehensive and cover everything from welding and electricity, to fluid changes to tire changes and everything in between. Some diesel mechanic programs available in Iowa are:

  • Northwest Iowa Community College. Located in Sheldon, this is an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program in Diesel Technology that is four semesters and two summer sessions in length. The school offers an additional AAS program in Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance.
  • Kirkwood Community College. Located in Des Moines, this is a 17-month AAS program in Diesel Truck Technology. A commercial driver’s license is recommended for this program. Once that degree is completed, students can choose to earn an additional AAS Degree in Diesel Agricultural Technology, which provides extra courses on agricultural equipment and heavy equipment.

Certification of Diesel Mechanics in Iowa

Holding a state license is not required to be a diesel mechanic in Iowa, but certification from National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is often listed as a preferred qualification among employers. This can lead to enhanced opportunities and better pay. Diesel mechanics who pass several of the tests available for ASE certifications have the opportunity to earn ASE Master Status.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations in Iowa 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 Iowa, CareerOneStop expects growth in this field of approximately 12.8 percent during the ten years between 2016 and 2026, which is a significantly higher rate than the nationwide average.

In May 2018, the median annual salary for diesel mechanics in Iowa was $42,090. 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 $20.67. Cedar Rapids has an hourly mean rate of $25.47 for diesel mechanics and a median annual salary of $52,970, while Des Moines comes in at $23.11 for the hourly mean and a median annual salary of $48,070.

Working as a Diesel Mechanic in Iowa

Choosing a career as a diesel mechanic means choosing a definite mix of duties. 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 farm or a company sized somewhere in between. Certain times of the year can bring an influx of work, such as the month of August when the Iowa State Fair is held. Within the state of Iowa, there should be opportunities throughout much of the state, with higher pay rates in larger cities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.