How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Nebraska
Diesel mechanics are in demand across the U.S. In Nebraska, industry growth is strong, so you can expect good job security and decent salaries. This can be a physically-demanding job, but if you enjoy working with your hands and with other people, it may be just right for you. A little bit of training and learning over a year or two is all it takes to get started in this exciting career.
Steps to Become a Nebraska Diesel Mechanic
Nebraska has no specific requirements for working as a diesel mechanic – no licensing or education and training. But to get into this career you will need some training, as the work is highly skilled. The two main ways to become a diesel mechanic are to complete a post-secondary degree or certificate program and to become an apprentice. The former will provide everything you need to become a mechanic, including foundational knowledge and hands-on training. As an apprentice, you’ll learn by doing and have the benefit of earning money while you train.
Academic Programs for Diesel Technology in Nebraska
The academic route to a career in diesel is beneficial, because you can count on the consistency of the programs. Also, it may be difficult to find a mechanic willing to train you as an apprentice. Nebraska has several community college programs for diesel mechanics:
- Central Community College, Hastings. Central offers students training to become mechanics several options. There are short certificate programs in diesel electrical and diesel engine performance, a diploma program in diesel technology and an associate’s degree program in diesel technology. The degree program takes two years to finish but will give you the most career options. Several industry partners help students with school costs and provide internships.
- Metropolitan Community College, Omaha. At Metropolitan, you can choose from among three different associate degree programs related to diesel technology: diesel service, heavy equipment and power generation. The school also offers certificates in diesel sales and diesel truck.
- Southeast Community College, Milford. The Milford campus offers students an associate’s degree program in diesel technology. It is approved by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and includes a cooperative period of training that allows you to learn by doing and to earn a salary.
Nationally Recognized Certification
National certification is strongly recommended for working as a diesel mechanic. Many employers will only hire mechanics certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Certification through ASE in truck equipment, medium-heavy duty truck, transit bus, school bus or electronic diesel engines will help you show employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job. To achieve certification, you only have to pass an exam. Your academic program should prepare you for this.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diesel mechanics across the U.S. earn $47,350 annually on average. In Nebraska, the average salary for this field is $43,460. However, there is potential to earn more, up to $60,000 with specializations, more years of experience and leadership positions on the job.
The BLS reports five percent growth in jobs for diesel mechanics across all states, but Nebraska is seeing stronger growth. Jobs for qualified diesel mechanics are increasing at a rate of over 11 percent. The estimate is that 300 positions will be added to the economy between 2018 and 2028.
Beginning a Diesel Mechanic Career in Nebraska
With strong job growth, a completed education program and ASE certification, you will have no trouble starting your career in Nebraska. The most jobs will be available in and around the state’s bigger cities: Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue and Grand Island.
Start your search with any company that has trucks and buses: local school districts, public transit companies, trucking companies, farm equipment companies and others. Some recent job listings in the state for diesel mechanics have included positions with Schulz Transportation Services in Lincoln, Roehr’s Machinery in Hebron and the American Fence Company in Omaha.