Diesel mechanics specialize in the repair of engine systems that run on diesel fuel. While they most commonly repair tractor-trailer trucks and buses, diesel mechanics may also repair heavy vehicles such as bulldozers and cranes, boats or even passenger vehicles that run on diesel. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who have some form of postsecondary training in diesel engine repair.
Average and Median Salary Figures:
As of 2011, diesel engine mechanics earned an average of nearly $43,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hourly wage paid to a diesel mechanic in 2011 was $20.63. The middle-earning 50 percent of diesel mechanics reportedly earned between $33,000 and $52,000 per year. The highest-paid 10 percent of diesel mechanics reported annual incomes of $61,000 or more.
Pay by Industry:
More than 40,000 diesel mechanics worked in the freight trucking industry as of 2011, earning an average of between $38,000 and $39,000 per year. Those working directly for automotive repair shops averaged about $40,000 per year. As for diesel mechanics who worked primarily on buses, those in the charter bus industry averaged about $40,000, while those working on public transportation systems made about $44,000 per year. Diesel mechanics employed by local governments earned about $49,000 per year, while the few employed by the federal government averaged $67,000 per year.
Pay by Region:
In general, diesel mechanics working in the Northeast and West tended to make the most, while those in the South Central states reported the lowest mean salaries. Alaska ranked first, with an average annual salary of $57,490 per year, followed by Hawaii at $55,860 per year. Wyoming ranked third, with a reported average salary of $54,400 per year. The lowest average salaries, about $35,000 per year, were reported by Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth among diesel mechanics to occur at a rate of 15 percent, about as fast as the growth rate predicted for the economy as a whole. While candidates with formal postsecondary training are expected to find good employment opportunities, those without such training will likely face strong competition in the job market. Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence can also improve the job prospects of diesel mechanics.