How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Kentucky
Diesel mechanics are specially trained mechanics who mostly work on buses and trucks. They may work for trucking companies, inspecting and repairing big rigs. School districts and public transit systems also employ diesel mechanics to keep their buses up and running. If you enjoy working with your hands and are prepared to train for a year or two, you may want to consider a career as a diesel mechanic in Kentucky.
Steps to a Career as a Diesel Mechanic in Kentucky
The Kentucky state government does not require that you have any specific education or training, or that you hold a license or certification, in order to become a diesel mechanic. However, you will need training in order to work in this role. Different employers have their own requirements, but generally there are a few ways you can learn the trade after high school or earning a GED:
- Enroll in a post-secondary program that teaches you through classroom learning and hands-on training. This option typically takes a year or two.
- Find a mechanic willing to train you as you work. This may take two to three years before you can begin working as a full diesel mechanic, although you will earn a little as you train.
- Complete Kentucky’s Transportation Mechanic Apprenticeship Program, which is two years in length.
Kentucky Programs in Diesel Technology
Kentucky is home to a few post-secondary academic programs that will give you the knowledge and the hands-on practice needed to begin working as a diesel mechanic. Two options include:
- Transportation Mechanic Apprenticeship Program. Also known as TMAP, this state-run program includes a two-year apprenticeship with a mechanic so that you can earn and learn at the same time. You’ll take classes through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System as well, for a total of 2,000 hours of classroom learning and work experience. The training options include both automotive and diesel technology.
- Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Kentucky is home to 16 community and technical colleges, many of which offer multiple options for diesel technology. For example, at Gateway in Florence, you can earn a two-year associate’s degree in diesel technology, a diploma in medium and heavy truck technology, or a certificate in a number of related specialties including diesel engine mechanic, heavy duty break mechanic and more. The two-year program offered at many of the system’s schools is the best way to get into a career as a diesel mechanic.
While the state of Kentucky doesn’t require that you hold any certification to begin working in this industry, many employers do. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE, offers the most widely-recognized certifications, which a lot of employers require. To become ASE-certified, you need to pass the exam in the related area. For instance, related to diesel you can take exams in school bus, transit bus, electronic diesel engines, medium-heavy duty truck and truck equipment.
Salary and Job Outlook for Kentucky Diesel Mechanics
Nationwide, the growth in careers for diesel mechanics is steady but not big. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that the industry is growing by five percent through 2028. The BLS also reports on salaries, and that the mean salary for diesel mechanics across the country is $47,350 per year and $22.76 per hour.
The situation is more promising in Kentucky, where job growth for diesel mechanics has been estimated at 9.1 percent. There should be over 400 new positions through 2028. The mean salary for diesel mechanics in the state was $43,340 per year in May 2018 and $20.84 per hour. The highest earners in this career in Kentucky made more than $61,000 per year. Experience, areas of specialty and additional certifications can help you earn more.
Diesel Mechanic Careers in Kentucky
The work of a diesel mechanic is dirty and physically demanding, but if you enjoy working with your hands, it can also be rewarding. Most of these mechanics work full-time hours in truck transportation companies. Other employers are local transit systems and schools, repair shops, truck manufacturers and dealerships.