How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Illinois
If you live in Illinois and you’re interested in the automotive industry, consider becoming a diesel mechanic. These types of mechanics are specially trained to inspect, repair and maintain diesel engines, which are in buses, trucks and other heavy automobiles and machinery. Duties of diesel mechanics include interacting with customers to learn their repair needs, performing basic diesel engine care and maintenance (such as oil changes) and using technical charts and manuals to guide their work.
For the most part, diesel mechanics work on trucks, with 19 percent of them being employed in this area. Others work in the wholesale trade, government and automotive industries. Diesel mechanics must be able to work in environments that contain toxic chemicals, heavy machinery and loud noises. They must also be able to lift heavy objects and be flexible enough to bend over often.
What Does it Take to Be a Diesel Mechanic?
The only thing you need to become a diesel mechanic is a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Many jobs train their employees in the trade. However, because of advances in technology, diesel engines and machinery are becoming more computerized and complex. For this reason, it’s advisable that diesel mechanics train in high school classes and college courses to learn the trade. Even better, consider pursing certifications from well-known agencies to increase your employability and income rate.
Study Options in llinois
There are lots of options for Illinois students to train in diesel mechanics. Some manufacturers even cover student tuition costs. Here are a few Illinois schools with diesel mechanic programs:
- Universal Technical Institute of Illinois. Located in Lisle, this school offers five manufacturer-specific programs that last 45 weeks. The core diesel program takes less than a year to complete. Graduates of UTI’s diesel programs are eligible to take the ASE exam and can substitute their year of study for one of the years of automotive experience required by the ASE.
- Parkland College.This Champaign school’s Diesel Power Equipment Technician program teaches students to work on diesel engines in agriculture, construction and motor truck vehicles. Full-time attendance is required, and graduates are guaranteed 100 percent job placement.
- City Colleges of Chicago-Olive Harvey. In Chicago, on Woodlawn Ave., this school offers a 70-hour Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Diesel Technology. Students learn skills to repair and maintain highway, industrial and marine vehicles. Graduates are qualified to take numerous certification exams.
Licensing isn’t required to practice in this field, but diesel certification is attractive to employers and customers. The standard agency for certification is The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). To receive certification, you must demonstrate two years of diesel mechanic experience and pass a 100-question exam. After receiving basic certification and accumulating five years of experience, you can pursue Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnostic Specialist certification for further career prominence.
Wages and Job Prospects: What to Expect Down the Line
In May 2018, the annual median income for Illinois diesel service technicians and mechanics was $52,190, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Compared to the national median annual income of $47,350 for the same profession, Illinois diesel mechanics are paid well.
The number of diesel technicians in Illinois is expected to grow at a rate of 10.4 percent by the year 2026, which is faster than average for all jobs.
Where to Work in Illinois
In May 2018, the highest number of bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists worked in the Chicago area, numbered at 7,230. However, the highest paid were in Springfield, where they earned a median annual income of $56,240, followed closely by those in Chicago who had a median income of $55,790. By far, the highest rate of employment for these specialists per 1,000 jobs was found in Kankakee, which is the trucking center of Illinois.
The opportunities to become a diesel mechanic are there – you just have to go for them. Start by taking shop classes in high school and then search for trade schools and vocational schools near you to begin the road to diesel mechanic certification and employment.