How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Washington
Diesel mechanics are skilled specialists who work on installing, repairing and maintaining diesel engines and equipment. They might work on any vehicle or machine that contains a diesel engine, including boats, buses, cranes and trucks. This career requires little to no post-secondary education because most training can be done on the job. However, completing training before looking for a job may increase your chances of getting hired. The job field for this career is currently experiencing a growth spurt, so you can look forward to having a job with security.
Requirements to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Washington
There are no statewide guidelines to work as a diesel mechanic in Washington. However, you will need training to work in the state, whether it be under an experienced mechanic on the job or by taking a formal training program and receiving a certificate or diploma. You will also need to have a high school diploma or GED. Many employers also require a valid driver’s license, and some prefer their employees to have a CDL as well. While it is not a statewide requirement, some employers in Washington do require that their mechanics have completed a post-secondary program in diesel technology. If you can do so, completing one of these programs would be a wise choice.
Post-Secondary Programs for Diesel Mechanics in Washington
If you do choose to complete a formal training program in diesel technology, Washington has several you can pick from. Here are a couple of your options:
- Centralia College. Located in Centralia, this school offers students the opportunity to earn an Associate in Applied Science in Diesel Equipment Technology. This program takes two years to complete and consists of 105 credit hours of general and program-specific courses. Students may also go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Diesel Technology if they complete an additional two years of study after they earn their associate’s degree.
- South Seattle College. The curriculum taught in the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology Program at South Seattle College is National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) based, meaning the program is designed to help students pass the certification exam offered by the ASE. South Seattle offers students the option of earning a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree and either stopping with that or continuing to complete a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. A certificate program in Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology is also available and can be completed in 72 credit hours.
National Diesel Mechanic Certifications
Licensure or certification isn’t mandatory to work as a diesel mechanic in Washington. However, many employers in the state prefer to hire a certified mechanic and will even pay them more than those who are not certified. The most common certifications for mechanics are those offered by the ASE. You take and pass the relevant exam and receive your certification. The ASE provides certifications for diesel mechanics in electronic diesel engines, medium-heavy duty trucks, school bus, transit bus and truck equipment.
Job Outlook and Salaries for Diesel Mechanics in Washington
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that careers in diesel mechanics are growing nationally at a rate of five percent. In Washington, the growth for this career is 14 percent. Approximately 930 more diesel mechanic jobs are expected to be added in the state by the year 2026.
The BLS also reports on salaries, and their data show that in May of 2018, diesel mechanics in the state of Washington were earning an average of $26.84 an hour, or $55,830 annually. Mechanics who have more experience or hold one or more certifications can likely earn as much as $77,920 annually.
Starting Your Career as a Diesel Mechanic in Washington
Currently, over 6,000 diesel mechanics are employed in Washington State. If you don’t complete any formal training, you may want to find an experienced mechanic who will take you under their wing and train you. If you have completed a program, then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding an entry-level job with places like trucking companies, vehicle dealerships, repair shops, vehicle manufacturers, school districts and transit systems.
With the amount of growth the job field is experiencing, you should be able to work pretty much anywhere in the state as a diesel mechanic. Some of the larger cities in the state such as Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Kent may be a great place to start.