How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Tennessee
Job growth and salaries are both strong for diesel mechanics in Tennessee, making this a good career choice for anyone who enjoys working with their hands. A diesel mechanic is an auto mechanic with special training in working on buses, trucks and diesel equipment. Training requirements are minimal. Once you get started with a training or education program, you will be ready to work as an entry-level mechanic within one or two years.
Paths to Becoming a Diesel Mechanic
You don’t need any special license or specific type of training or education to work as a diesel mechanic in the state. You do need training, however, as this is a job with specialized skills. There are two main ways to get that training and work toward becoming a mechanic. Both begin with finishing and graduating from high school or earning your GED, followed by:
- Finding a diesel mechanic willing to take you on as an apprentice. You’ll work and earn a lower salary for a year or two as you train and learn on the job.
- Completing a program in diesel technology at a post-secondary institution. This may include earing an associate’s degree or a certificate. Upon graduation you’ll be ready to work as an entry-level mechanic on diesel vehicles and equipment.
Post-Secondary Programs in Tennessee
If you prefer to earn a degree or certificate at a college, you have a few options in Tennessee, which include:
- Lincoln College of Technology, Nashville. Lincoln Tech’s diesel mechanic school offers two program options. The diesel and truck technology diploma program includes 63 credit hours and takes about a year to complete. The diesel and truck service management program includes 78 credit hours and will earn you an Associate of Occupational Studies degree. This is a two-year program, which includes coursework beyond diesel technology to help you advance in the industry.
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville. This school gives you different options for locations. At each of the three campuses you can enroll in the diesel powered equipment technology program, which takes 20 months to complete on a full-time schedule. You can choose between day and night classes. Shorter options include certificate and diploma programs in preventative maintenance service technician, diesel engine assembler, diesel technician and diesel technician assistant.
Diesel Mechanic Certifications in Tennessee
You do not have to be certified or licensed in Tennessee to work as a diesel mechanic. It’s a good idea, though, to get certified. The most widely-acknowledged type of certification is through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. All that is required to get certified is a passing score on the appropriate exam. For diesel mechanics, certifications through ASE include transit bus, school bus, electronic diesel engines, medium-heavy duty truck and truck equipment
Salary and Job Outlook for Tennessee Diesel Mechanics
Growth across the country for careers in diesel is steady at five percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In Tennessee, you can expect faster growth at a rate of just over nine percent between 2018 and 2028. This means that by 2028 there will be about 780 additional positions for diesel mechanics throughout the state.
The BLS records a mean annual salary of $47,350 per year for diesel mechanics. In Tennessee, the average salary is $44,890 per year. There are always opportunities to earn more by working toward a leadership position in a company, with more years of experience or with specialized certifications. Top earning diesel mechanics in Tennessee make over $63,000 per year.
How to Start a Career as a Diesel Mechanic in Tennessee
As you begin looking for jobs after learning and training, expect to find the most open positions in the state’s big population centers: Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. According to the BLS, the industry that employs the most diesel mechanics is truck transportation. You’ll also find jobs with local school districts and bus transportation companies, dealerships, diesel equipment manufacturers and more.
Some recent job listings in the state include positions for diesel mechanics with Waste Management in Nashville, TravelCenters of America in Knoxville, Cumberland Trucks in Murfreesboro, Penske in Nashville and Cumberland International Trucks in Nashville.