Trucking Industry Recruitment: What Is It Really Like to Work on Diesel Engines?

The trucking industry is still an enigma to many Americans, many who may not even realize they depend on truck drivers to transport their needed goods back and forth across the country.  However, even those in the know, forget is that there is another necessary facet to the trucking industry that not even all drivers think about daily: the shops that perform the preventative maintenance and repairs for semi-trucks.  Becoming a diesel mechanic or technician is not for the faint of heart; it takes years of hard work and dedication to pass all of the certification exams and/or gain the necessary experience to be employed by a shop that works on heavy-duty diesel engines.

Today, Lionzone is diving into what it takes to work in a diesel engine shop, keeping fleets of semi-trucks performing at their best on U.S. highways and byways.  Join us today in learning how diesel mechanics and technicians get training, find jobs, and perform in one of the grittiest industries in America!

“Go Grease Lightning!”

Diesel mechanics and technicians work on heavy-duty diesel engines, keeping America’s semi-trucks on the road and transporting goods.  How does one become a diesel mechanic or technician, though? 

According to the website,, certification is not necessary when applying for an entry-level diesel mechanic job.  For some, only a high school diploma is required.  On the other hand, while not mandatory, many employers would like to see some testing and certification from their prospective employees so they can determine the prospect’s skill level and experience with heavy-duty engines.  The most common certificates come from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence, also known as ASE.  ASE standards cover engine systems, brakes, electrical systems, and preventative maintenance. 

More and more often, diesel mechanics are starting to look into earning associate’s and bachelor's degrees in Diesel Technology.  Colleges and universities are setting out to show that these types of hands-on jobs are just as rewarding and fulfilling as the office and academic jobs these schools have been tailoring their programs towards.  Other prospective mechanics and technicians looking to jump into a career in this field are choosing to attend vocational schools for programs that offer hands-on training along with academic learning.  Many who enter this field appreciate the knowledge gained from the classroom, but almost all of them say that the real training starts in the field, where they can reach into the engines and really learn how they work.  In whatever way mechanics and technicians decide to get their training, once it is complete, they are finding that the field is wide open for them at this time. 

“Engines pumping and thumping in time…  He’s going the distance…”

Since the American economy relies so heavily on diesel trucks, trained diesel mechanics or technicians can find employment in a variety of places.  Between equipment dealers, repair companies, diesel engine manufacturers, or privately owned shops, there is a growing need for people that can work on these types of engines, and this demand has been growing for several years now.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated, all the way back in 2010, that there were roughly 242,000 diesel mechanics in the U.S., but they believed that another 35,000 would be employed by 2020.  In 2022, the BLS clocked the total number of diesel mechanics at over 291,000, with another 8% increase in jobs in this field expected by 2030.  What does that mean?  There are jobs for diesel mechanics and diesel technicians out there, and there will be for a while! 

“Nothing can touch my 409…”

So, what should the men and women ready to get to work on these powerful diesel engines expect from these types of jobs?  For many, it is a steady job with comfortable pay and regular hours.  The base salary for a diesel mechanic averages a little over $50,000, and it is roughly $48,000 for diesel technicians.  While some shops operate on a 24-hour schedule to accommodate emergency and roadside repairs, many are open during normal, daytime hours. 

On any given day, the responsibilities of a diesel mechanic or diesel technician will vary depending on the work in the shop that day.  Most mechanics and technicians will see some similar duties on their daily roster, and they could include:

  • Performing any work outlined on orders
  • Verifying part warranties
  • Diagnosing and repairing any vehicle or engine malfunctions
  • Communicating with team members, customers, and parts departments
  • Making repair recommendations to customers and managers
  • Documenting all work done on vehicles
  • Testing vehicles before and after repairs to ensure quality completion
  • Maintaining a working knowledge of diesel engines
  • Maintaining a neat and orderly work area
  • Maintaining accountability for all un-owned tools
  • Upholding federal, state, and local laws concerning hazardous waste and materials

These responsibilities are extremely important, and, while they may not encompass everything that may come into the shop, it is a fairly accurate representation of what working on diesel engines entails.  One of the things that so many mechanics and technicians seem to enjoy is that rarely are two days ever the same.  Each shift brings new challenges, new equipment, and new customers to work with, and this keeps many on their toes.  The work is difficult and tough and can be very dirty, but, with a good salary and decent hours, many mechanics and technicians report liking their jobs. 


The life of a diesel mechanic or a diesel technician is not one of ease and comfort.  There are many responsibilities, and the work never stops.  Each day will bring new engines and new vehicles to work on in the shop.  However, even if the American people don’t realize it, we all depend on these workers to keep semi-trucks up and running and transporting our commercial goods across the country. 

Join us for more on this in April!  We will be continuing our dive into working in a shop, and we will be hearing from diesel mechanics and technicians about what it is like for them to work on the heavy-duty engines it takes to make this country run!


Meaghan Goldberg covers recruitment and digital marketing for Lionzone.  A Patterson, GA native, after graduating from both Valdosta State University and Middle Tennessee State University, Meaghan joined Lionzone in 2018 as a digital recruitment strategist before becoming the social media manager.



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