How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Virginia
Growth in careers for qualified diesel mechanics is expected to stay strong in Virginia for years. With a year or two of training you could be ready to land a job in this exciting industry. Diesel mechanics work for companies that own and operate buses, trucks and other types of diesel equipment. They are responsible for inspecting, maintaining and repairing these vehicles.
What You Need to Work as a Virginia Diesel Mechanic
In order to become a diesel mechanic, you don’t need to have any specific training or licensing, but you do need to be trained. Mechanics are skilled and have specialized knowledge, and there are two main ways that you can gain those skills:
- After high school or earning a GED, enroll in an academic program for diesel or truck mechanics at a post-secondary institution. These programs are designed to give you the knowledge and hands-on experience to begin working in an entry-level position.
- Instead of completing an academic program, you can apprentice with a master mechanic. With this option you learn on the job and earn a salary as well.
Academic Programs for Diesel Technology in Virginia
An apprenticeship is a valid way to get into this career, but if you would rather complete a certificate or degree program, you have several options in Virginia, including:
- Tidewater Community College, Norfolk. Tidewater has several programs related to diesel technology and is accredited by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Two associate degree options include medium/heavy truck service technician and diesel marine technician. You may also choose shorter certificate programs in diesel engine technician, diesel marine technician and diesel medium/heavy truck service technician.
- Advanced Technology Institute, Virginia Beach. This school offers a diploma program in heavy vehicle technology. It includes 48 credit hours and 1,200 actual hours of classroom work and hands-on training in the vehicle lab. This program takes about 60 weeks to complete.
- Northern Virginia Community College, Manassas. At the Manassas campus, you can complete the career studies certificate program in diesel mechanics technology to be prepared for an entry-level job. This program takes just one year to complete and includes 28 credit hours.
Diesel Mechanic Certifications in Virginia
No specific certifications are required by the state to begin working as a diesel mechanic. Many employers may require certifications, however, and most accept those offered by ASE. ASE exams in school bus, transit bus, electronic diesel engine, truck equipment and medium-heavy duty truck are appropriate for diesel mechanics.
Virginia’s Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth in careers for diesel mechanics is steady at five percent across the country. In Virginia, growth is even stronger. New jobs are being added at a rate of 10.9 percent. This represents about 700 new jobs for diesel mechanics between 2018 and 2028 and means that you can enjoy good job security in the state.
The average salary for diesel mechanics in the U.S., according to the BLS, is $47,350 annually. In Virginia, diesel mechanics earn $48,470 on average. Those who make the most in the state are earning more than $66,000 per year, thanks to additional certifications and specializations, years of experience and leadership roles in their companies.
Working in Virginia as a Diesel and Truck Mechanic
In 2016, there were over 7,000 diesel mechanics working in Virginia. This number is growing, and finding your first job shouldn’t be difficult. Demand is high for qualified workers. The areas in and around Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Newport News and Alexandria will have the most opportunities. Diesel mechanics work for public bus systems, school districts, transportation companies and any company that has a fleet of trucks. Virginia’s coast and ports also provides the unique opportunity to look for work with maritime companies, working on marine equipment and ships.