How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Montana
Montana is known for its clean air and beautiful scenery, including Glacier National Park and Big Sky Resort. Gold and sapphire mining are state highlights as well. The Waggoners Trucking and Big Sky Brewing Company are two companies that have headquarters in Montana and would require the services of diesel mechanics to maintain their vehicles.
To be a diesel mechanic, you need to be proficient at working with your hands. Someone who enjoys being challenged with a variety of tasks could be well suited to this career. It also requires stamina, patience and excellent interpersonal skills.
Requirements for a Diesel Mechanic in Montana
A high school diploma or GED equivalent and willingness to learn are important in order to become a diesel mechanic in Montana. Completing a training program is also essential to be eligible for better positions and higher wages. Several schools in Montana offer programs that teach students to assess, evaluate, maintain and repair diesel vehicles. Program length depends on the type you choose.
Becoming a diesel mechanic requires hard work and dedication. This career involves math skills, being comfortable using hand tools and the ability to lift significant weights. It is important to have adequate problem-solving skills as well.
Educational Opportunities for Diesel Mechanics in Montana
The best diesel mechanic job opportunities available in Montana require completing a program with hands-on training. Students learn tasks such as welding, fluid changes and tire changes as well as the ins and outs of all systems and parts of diesel vehicles. Some diesel mechanic programs available in Montana are:
- Helena College. Located in Helena, certificate and associate’s degree programs are both available in diesel technology. The tool set recommended for this program costs between $3,000-$4,000.
- Montana State University – Northern (MSUN). Located in Havre, certificate, associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs are available in diesel technology, with the additional options of degrees for agriculture mechanical technology. Several employers in the area count students from these programs as part of their staff. Some of them are John Deere, General Electric and Montana Peterbuilt.
Certification of Diesel Mechanics in Montana
Montana does not require a state license to become a diesel mechanic, but certification from National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is typically a preferred qualification among employers. Having ASE certification gives an edge to applicants, as shops hiring them will know that their skills have been tested. A diesel mechanic who passes multiple tests for ASE certifications will have the opportunity to earn ASE Master Status.
Job Opportunities and Salary Outlook for Diesel Mechanics in Montana
Within the state of Montana, CareerOneStop expects growth within this field to be approximately 11.2 percent during the ten years between 2016 and 2026, which is higher than the average rate of growth for this field nationwide. 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 measured growth
The hourly mean rate of pay for diesel mechanics in Montana during 2018 was $24.59. The median annual salary paid to diesel mechanics in the state as of May 2018 was $50,300. This means that half of all the people who worked as diesel mechanics earned more than this and half earned less. Pay is a bit higher in larger cities like Billings and Missoula.
Working as a Diesel Mechanic in Montana
Diesel mechanics need to be able to use nearly all of their senses to identify issues with vehicles and any of their systems as well as to fix them. It is important to be able to hear where a sound is coming from and to see where tiny electronic components are located. The smells of welding and chemicals are also common in this type of work environment. Diesel mechanics need to be able to work in some uncomfortable positions throughout the day, and shops can have unpredictable temperatures as well.
Being a diesel mechanic means being flexible, as no two work weeks will ever be exactly the same. It’s possible to do a repair on a tractor one day and to perform scheduled maintenance on a fleet vehicle the next. Customers bring an additional facet to the job, as they have varying needs and require patience and understanding. There is never a dull moment in this career.
There are several trucking companies that have a large presence in Montana, including Watkins & Shepard Trucking, which would require diesel mechanics to maintain their fleets of vehicles.