When I first figured out I wanted to be a mechanic, I was fortunate to have a transportation company job. We had our own shop, and I was able to move down as a mechanic trainee. I am so grateful for that opportunity. I had considered several times looking at other options. An important question to ask when you’re still weighing your options between car mechanics and diesel mechanics is, which job is better?
Diesel mechanic versus Auto mechanic.
On the whole, a career as a diesel mechanic is superior to an automotive mechanic. With an average of $3.19 more per hour, job diversity, and the security the field provides, automotive just can’t match the diesel field. Let’s dive into these benefits in greater detail.
I have been a diesel technician since I was 18. So, this article may be a little biased toward the career path I would recommend. But I want to clear the air between car guys and diesel guys. Some of my best friends are auto mechanics.
Let me clue those in who are still learning car mechanics. I want to give you 15 reasons diesel mechanics is a better career than car mechanics. Also, check out my youtube video at the bottom of this page.
1. Diesel Mechanics make a better Salary
Number 1 and perhaps the most compelling of the list is the money ????. That’s right, the Benjamins. Who is it going to be?
Do diesel mechanics make more than auto mechanics? Yes, diesel mechanics make an average of $47,350 per year or $22.76 per hour, and auto mechanics make an average of $40,710 per year or $19.57 per hour. source
That’s right—end of the argument. We make more. Forget it. What more of a reason do you need? Money is, after all, the reason we do all this. I know, though, that some of you might say, “John, I really enjoy working on my car.”
A lot of times, these benefits aren’t going to be the pay. In most cases, diesel techs receive better options for insurance and retirement. These may not seem important when you are young, but as you age in the workforce, you realize just how important they are.
Ok. So, work on your car. I guarantee you will not share that enthusiasm for another person’s vehicle, especially when it is not a cool one. When it’s a Honda, it’s not nearly as much fun as a classic mustang.
The bottom line, you can use the extra dough to support your habits. Like working on the racecar, buggy, motorcycle, or whatever you’re into.
2. Diesel Mechanics have more Job diversity
In auto mechanics, you are limited to just that. While you can work on vehicles in many different capacities, you will be working on cars for the most part. In diesel mechanics, you have many other applications to choose from.
Some of the different diesel applications include Marine, Generators, Government fleets, Semi truck fleets, Fire apparatus and suppression, Heavy equipment, farm equipment, and others.
Once you become familiar with the diesel engine, you have many options for where and what you work on. There are many options and opportunities. Sick of working on Semis? Go work on a cruise ship. Tired of dozers? Go check out generators.
Your diesel experience opens you up to many opportunities and will give you a long and interesting career.
Want to see articles on the best tools for diesel pros? ????????
Just getting into being a diesel tech? See my complete tool guide
3. Diesel Mechanics have more Job security
Diesel mechanics are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics will grow by 3% from 2019 to 2029, which is a rate that is as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by the increase in freight transportation and the need for more efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Jobs security is important. We all want to have faith that our job is not constantly in jeopardy, and it is expected to be there years from now. If you are banking a career in diesel mechanics, I think you are making a good decision. Even in 2021. There are a couple of reasons I believe this,
- This may be controversial, but I see the diesel market having longer viability than gas engines in the future. There are lots of reasons for this. Diesels are used in the industrial and heavy-duty markets, something that will stay that way for years to come. While gas engines are having somewhat of a threat from electric vehicles diesels are adapting using natural gas and other alternative fuels.
- There is also more security with a diesel mechanic position because of the size or type of company you work for. Most diesel jobs are going to be with large companies or municipalities. This work will be done on fleets of things like heavy equipment, fire apparatus, semi-trucks, generators, and others. For this reason, these companies become more stable. These industries are more stable and reliable. This is not a guarantee, but more likely that your job is safe.
In the car world, your job is heavily dependent on the salesman at the dealer you are working at. They don’t sell enough cars, and the dealership can fail. If you are in a regular shop, you are dependent on the management of that small business for your income. Really unless you are working in a fleet or municipality environment like a city or county, your job is in a bad spot.
4. Just say no to the dealer
A lot of car mechanics are relegated to the dealer. A shame, really. I have a great friend who worked for a Volkswagen dealer for years. I never really got much out of it but a paycheck. That’s the thing about dealers. When you work for the dealer, you don’t work for the car manufacturer.
That’s right, and Ford doesn’t sign your check. Billy, the “huge” guy does. Or insert whatever car dealer commercial in your area. ???? So, why is that a bad thing? Unlike Ford motor company, with its great pay and benefits, the car dealership is a small business.
That means your benefits will be limited, your pay will be less, and you will likely be paid a flat rate ???? , and no one wants that. That’s not to say that there are all negatives, but this is not a career you should set out for. Set your eyes a bit higher.
Diesel techs, on the other hand, are a lot less likely to work for a dealer or work for flat-rate pay. Diesel mechanics are usually in a fleet environment or for a company that works on equipment. There are more expensive vehicles and equipment, so the customers are normally bigger companies and more stable income for whatever business you’re in.
5. Diesel engines are made to work on
Ever started working on a car and thought, “why did they put that there?” Have you ever had to remove half the engine to get the part you need? Cars are made to look pretty. ???? Not so much for your semi-truck or fire apparatus.
When you lift the hood on a semi, it opens up like it was made for you to see the whole thing. This is super helpful when you need to get to something. Also, on equipment like loaders or dozers, the engine is set in an accessible area.
While small diesel cars and trucks are smashed into a small space, when you get into the industrial side diesels, there is a vast improvement in the area with which you have to work. I am not saying it is always that easy but
This is not the case for VWs or European diesel trucks and cars. A lot of the time, they can be even more crammed than a gas car. Sometimes you can really see tight spots around turbos or batteries, but for the majority of diesel engines, they will be placed in large workable areas.
6. Tools, Tools, Tools
This next one may not be true for every diesel guy, but I have worked for several big companies in the diesel world, and I can say that they have always provided the bigger tools for you. More and more shops are purchasing larger and more expensive tools needed for more specialized jobs. This makes sense for the shop not only to help the guys out and save them some serious money but also gives them control to make sure jobs are done right.
For example, all the shops I worked for kept a full set of torque wrenches for the guys to use. They did this because they had them calibrated regularly. As you know, over time, torque wrenches can get out of spec. This way, they helped us out and got the job done right.
This is just one example of this. Many other things shops have provided like large wrenches, sockets, ¾ impacts, tire-bars, drills, dial-indicator, freon leak detectors, and many other things.
From my experience, this is not something smaller shops or dealerships do. This can cost you a lot of money if you are required to have these more expensive items and Definity is something to consider when deciding between diesel or auto mechanics.
7. Diesel Mechanics have more Job growth
Another huge factor in weighing whether diesel mechanics is a better career than auto mechanics is job growth. When this is factored in by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is drawn out to 2026.
Diesel mechanic jobs are expected to have **9%**Growth until 2026. Auto mechanics are only expected to have 6% until 2026. source
This may not seem like much until you realize that that’s literally 33% more than auto mechanics. This should be a large factor in your decision-making process. There needs to be room to grow, and it is good to know that your industry is expanding in the future.
8. Diesel Mechanics have Less Stress
This may have a few exceptions. There were times when I was working on fire apparatus that the stress was a little high, but for the most part, you will find most diesel tech positions having a lower stress level. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- Not many shops use book times
In case you don’t know, book time is the expected amount of time you should complete a job. This is huge in the car world. Most shops ride their guys to have the vehicle out and abide by book time. In the case of flat-rate pay, they are paid by that book time.
Diesel techs don’t deal with a lot of book time. There were a select few jobs that I saw the issue of time come up. i.e., brake jobs. Most things in diesel are not that straightforward. It may take a couple of hours to diagnose an air leak on a truck. You may run into an electrical problem that takes a day or two to figure out. No pressure! Take the time and do it right. That’s the mentality of most shops I have worked in.
2. Not dealing with the public
Most diesel jobs being fleet there are some benefits stress-wise. Often, the equipment you are working on may have an assigned driver, or the truck you have torn apart may have a department head checking on it, but that is a far cry from Karen, who has 3 kids and needs her car back today.
While there are deadlines in all types of mechanics and times when you will need to hustle, you will find that those times are not as often in a well-run shop.
9. Diesel Mechanics have more Upward mobility
Something else that may be an important factor to you is your ability to advance in your career. Do you have goals to be the shop foreman? Maybe even a high position? In-car mechanics, most of the time being in a dealership setting, the highest position to aspire is the shop manager. This may not be where you want to end up as this can be a stressful job in that area.
There is often a supervisor and then fleet manager, in diesel mechanics and then depending on your company regional manager often called field engineer. There are also in the trucking world a VP of maintenance, or if you are in a diesel dealer like CAT or Cummins, the sky is the limit.
10. Diesel Mechanics do the Same work for better pay
What I mean by this one is that diesels are no more difficult than gas/petrol engines. This means you reap all the benefits mentioned in this list for essentially the same work.
People sometimes look at big pieces of equipment and trucks and think they must be much more complicated than cars. Simply not true. You should not let the size of the equipment intimidate you. They really are just nuts and bolts. You can fix them just as easily.
I have enjoyed my career as a diesel technician and have reaped all the benefits I listed. I hope that this article answers the question, why diesel mechanic is a good career? There are so many awesome places you can take your career in diesel and awesome people to meet. Good luck on your path!