Diesel mechanics are specially trained to work on the engines of automobiles and machines that run on diesel fuel, as opposed to machines that run on unleaded gasoline. Most vehicles that run on diesel tend to be heavy, such as freight trucks, buses and construction vehicles. Employers often prefer to hire diesel mechanics with formal postsecondary training in the field.
Diesel technicians reported an average wage of $20.99 per hour and average salary of $43,660 per year to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012. This is higher than the salary of less specialized automotive mechanics who perform work on unleaded vehicles; they earned an average of $39,060 per year in 2012. It's also more than motorcycle mechanics, who reported an average salary of $34,910 to the BLS during the same period.
Geographical Salary Differences
Diesel mechanics can expect to earn different salaries depending on where they live. As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the three lowest-paying states for this occupation were West Virginia at $34,740, Arkansas at $34,830, and Mississippi at $34,980 per year. The three states with the highest average salaries for diesel mechanics were Hawaii at $58,420, Alaska at $55,910, and Wyoming at $54,710. Regionally, the highest average salaries were reported in the West and Northeast, and the lowest average salaries were reported in the Southeast and Midwest.
Employment Sector Wage Differences
The expected pay of diesel mechanics varies considerably by the industry in which they find employment. The few employed in deep sea, coastal and Great Lakes water transportation earned the most in 2012, averaging $79,250 a year. Those working for the federal government averaged $68,800 per year, and diesel mechanics employed by private courier and delivery services such as UPS averaged $59,740 per year. Diesel mechanics who service municipal vehicles for local governments averaged $50,640 per year, and those employed by urban transit systems averaged $47,430 a year. At the lower end of the pay scale were those employed in the general freight trucking industry, who earned an average of $39,940, and those working for charter bus companies, who averaged $40,830 per year.
The job prospects of diesel engine mechanics depends largely on whether or not they are formally trained. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training mechanics on the job costs time and money. Therefore, mechanics who already have formal college training can expect to have a high likelihood of finding a job, while those without formal training may struggle to find employment. The bureau also reports that an additional 35,200 new jobs for diesel mechanics will be created between 2010 and 2020.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Motorcycle Mechanics
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images