How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Oregon
If you enjoy working with your hands and have an interest in auto repair, you should consider becoming a diesel mechanic. Diesel engines are essential to the operation of heavy vehicles like buses, delivery trucks and trains and are also found in factories and other industries such as mining and construction. As a diesel mechanic you will diagnose problems, provide service and repairs and help maintain engines and diesel systems across a wide spectrum of industries.
Working as a diesel mechanic is a dirty, noisy job, as you’ll often be working in auto shops, factories or even by the side of the road as you make emergency repairs. Diesel mechanics typically work full-time, and frequent overtime is common throughout the industry. You may have weekend shifts or be required to travel to job sites around your area. As a diesel mechanic your skills will be in demand, and as you gain experience you’ll have many opportunities for advancement.
Requirements for Diesel Mechanics Oregon
Oregon does not have any formal requirements for becoming a diesel mechanic, but most companies prefer to hire entry-level mechanics with at least a high school diploma or GED and a background in auto mechanics. While you can learn skills and gain knowledge from on-the-job training, acquiring a certificate or your associate’s (AS) degree in diesel technology will help you advance your career and make it easier to become professionally certified.
Educational Programs in Oregon
Oregon has a variety of options for gaining education in diesel mechanics. You may opt for taking a short course to obtain a certificate in diesel technology or work toward your AS degree. Many mechanics take additional courses in diesel technology and repair after completing their basic automotive coursework. These are a few of your options for training within the state of Oregon:
- Portland Community College (PCC). PCC offers several options for those interested in diesel mechanics. They offer a one- and a two-year certification course in diesel technology, with classes scheduled in the evenings to accommodate working students. They also have an AS degree program that can typically be completed in two years of full-time study. These programs combine classwork and practical training in an auto shop. PCC has a robust job placement program and boasts that the majority of their students are offered multiple positions when they complete the program.
- Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC). If you live in eastern Oregon, you might consider the diesel technology programs at BMCC. Located in Pendleton, BMCC is the only school in the eastern part of the state to offer this type of education. They have a short one-year certification program for training diesel technician assistants, or you can go for your AS degree in diesel technology. In addition to gaining knowledge about diesel engines and repairs, you’ll also learn about safe shop practices and the basics of arc and oxy-acetylene welding.
- Rouge Community College (RCC). For residents of southern Oregon, RCC offers a diesel technology program at their Grants Pass campus. They have a short diesel specialists course for those who want to obtain a certificate in diesel technology, or you can sign-up for their full two-year AS degree program. RCC places a heavy focus on hands-on experience in their diesel labs. While you will take courses in the fundamentals of diesel technology, most of your time is spent in the shop learning as you work on these systems.
Certification for Diesel Mechanics
While not required for employment, obtaining professional diesel certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) will make you more desirable to potential employers. Your employer may even help you obtain this certificate once you have gained enough experience on the job.
To complete this certification, you’ll need to have two years of diesel mechanic experience and be able to demonstrate your knowledge by passing the ASE national exam. Once you’ve obtained the initial certification and gained a further three years of work experience, you may pursue the Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnostic Specialist certification for further advancement.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 3,680 diesel mechanics in Oregon in 2018, and the field is expected to expand an additional 12.5 percent by 2026. There are approximately 430 job openings a year for diesel mechanics across a wide range of industries.
The mean hourly wage of a diesel mechanic in Oregon was $24.52 per hour, or about $51,000 a year, in 2018. This is slightly above the national average of $22.76 per hour. While Oregon doesn’t have the highest demand for diesel mechanics in the country, there are always openings for new mechanics, so you should not have difficulty finding employment opportunities.
Working as a Diesel Mechanic in Oregon
Diesel mechanics in Oregon are in steady demand, especially for the transportation and construction sectors. As a diesel mechanic, you’ll have a lot of interesting job opportunities and can advance your career as you gain skills and knowledge. These specialized mechanics often work in auto shops and provide oil changes and other maintenance services for vehicles with diesel engines. You may also find work in public transportation with Tri-Met, with one of the local railroad companies, or in the logging or mining industries across the state.