How to Become a Diesel Mechanic in Wisconsin
Today’s world requires an increasing use of diesel engines as trade and online shopping grow, so it’s a great time to begin your career as a diesel mechanic in Wisconsin. Diesel mechanics are like regular mechanics, except they specialize in diesel engines that power large vehicles such as trucks, buses and agricultural machinery. The career field is growing steadily according to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP), with a 5 percent increase in employment predicted by the year 2026.
Diesel mechanics inspect, maintain and repair diesel engines. While some are self-employed, most diesel mechanics in the U.S. work for truck transportation companies. This career requires a year or less of education, and skills can be learned mainly on the job. Diesel mechanics must be good with their hands, able to read manuals and diagrams, and be physically fit to bend over and stand for long periods of time. In Wisconsin, this is a big career field, and you can be on your way to starting your career by studying at one of the many schools offering diesel mechanic programs.
Career Preparation Overview
Diesel mechanics is a trade that can be learned through experience, education or both. All you need to get started is a high school diploma or GED, but studying at a trade school or technical school will greatly increase your chances of certification and employment. While certification isn’t required to land a job in this field, it’s generally preferred by potential employers.
Learn Tools of the Trade
Most educational programs for diesel mechanics last two years or less, but you can study more advanced skills beyond that, specializing in numerous diesel engine manufacturers’ equipment. These are a couple of options for Wisconsin residents:
- Northcentral Technical College. This Wausau school offers a 37-credit Diesel Equipment Mechanic technical diploma, which teaches entry-level skills for heavy truck service and repair. The program may be completed 100 percent in Wausau or partially in other campus locations. You can also receive a Diesel Technology Associate Degree, which takes 70 credit-hours of study. This school has a transfer agreement with colleges across the U.S. for you to complete your bachelor’s degree in a related field.
- Madison Area Technical College. On this school’s Truax campus, you can earn a Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technician two-year technical diploma. Students can choose a Diesel Equipment Technology Associate Degree path as well, which includes 432 hours of work as paid intern with industry partners.
Become Certified in the Industry
Most diesel mechanics become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This organization offers tests to mechanics that prove their skills in the industry. Employers prefer certified mechanics, and income rates for certified workers are higher. You can test to become ASE-certified in:
- Truck Equipment
- Transit Buses
- Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist
- Medium-Heavy Trucks
- School Buses
Each test covers a unique set of skills and consists of 45 to 70 multiple-choice questions covering day-to-day situations a diesel mechanic may encounter. The more ASE certifications you earn, the easier it will be to find a job that offers what you’re looking for.
A Closer Look at Wisconsin Diesel Mechanics
Diesel mechanics in Wisconsin have an excellent career outlook and solid earning potential. In 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that 6,600 diesel mechanics were employed in Wisconsin. By 2026, that number is expected to increase by 10.5 percent (double the growth rate for diesel mechanics around the country).
As for income, Wisconsin diesel mechanics earned a median annual salary of $47,550 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is right on track with the national annual median income of $47,350 that year.
Where is a Good Place to Start?
Where there are lots of trucking centers, you’ll find diesel mechanics. There were 1,430 diesel mechanics employed in the Milwaukee area in 2018, making it the largest employer for diesel mechanics in Wisconsin, according to the BLS. Income rates were the highest in the Janesville-Beloit area that year, with a median income of $57,300.
The highest employment rates per 1,000 jobs for diesel mechanics in Wisconsin can be found in La Crosse, Fond du Lac and Wausau. With so many job opportunities at your fingertips, becoming a diesel mechanic in Wisconsin is a sensible choice for those interested in the automotive industry. This field is bound to continue growing, and more professionals will always be in demand.