The average hourly wage for a diesel mechanic in the United States is $21.70 per hour1. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the field to grow at an average rate2, but it remains a trade that does not require a college degree to earn a job position. This guide examines the role of diesel mechanic, including popular and lucrative career paths and the training necessary to pursue these roles.
Highest Paying Diesel Mechanic Jobs
Diesel mechanics can make a good living in the trade sector, but employment with one of the following industries offers the most lucrative career positions.
Marine Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $99,820
Marine diesel mechanics make nearly six figures on average3. Diesel mechanics in this field service large watercraft in both fresh and saltwater environments. These ships transport cargo and people across lakes, rivers, or oceans, and maintenance remains a critical part of doing that safely.
Job seekers can prepare with a special certification such as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential4 and the Merchant Marine Credential5. Workers may need to relocate to foreign or domestic ports and need excellent problem-solving skills.
Express Delivery and Courier Services Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $52,090
Express delivery and courier services pay just over $50,000 per year6 to maintain trucks and other continuously running vehicles. The business model requires that vehicles remain in top shape to handle the rigors of the road, so diesel mechanics should find employment regularly.
Diesel mechanics can find higher-paying positions in this field by completing an associate degree and a certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence7. Mechanics can take positions in both metro and non-metropolitan areas.
Federal Executive Branch Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $83,950
Mechanics working for the executive branch make just over $80,000 per year6. They repair and adjust large vehicles such as buses and trucks. They take responsibility for troubleshooting, maintenance, and overall quality inspections and must remain comfortable working with large jacks, flame-cutting machines, and other heavy machinery.
The field also includes some computerized testing devices, so candidates should understand mechanic-related technology.
Natural Gas and Oil Distribution Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $89,790
Natural gas and oil distribution diesel mechanics make close to $90,000 per year6 to maintain the industry’s large trucks. The field offers placements both domestically and abroad, giving candidates the opportunity to travel.
They also maintain vehicles necessary to transport these products long distances, including train components, as well as other heavy machinery. The field offers opportunities to work on a variety of machine components.
Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Technicians and Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $73,680
Technicians and mechanics in this industry make just over $73,000 per year6 to maintain complex systems for power delivery. Many mechanics find employment with a specific company and work to maintain large distributed systems.
The industry needs people familiar with more than diesel engines, as they also keep other pieces of heavy equipment in compliance with safety regulations.
Architectural and Engineering Services Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $67,250
Diesel mechanics working in architectural and engineering services make just under $70,000 per year6. They’re responsible for building, maintaining, and troubleshooting engines involved in this sector. This option requires excellent problem-solving skills and knowledge of compliance issues and regulations.
This choice comprises a smaller part of the overall industry but offers a lucrative choice for those interested in working in public service.
Interurban and Rural Bus Transportation Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $55,390
Diesel mechanics that find employment in this sector make around $55,000 per year6. They make up a vital part of public infrastructure and accessibility. These mechanics maintain the vehicles responsible for the transportation needs between cities and in rural areas that rely on limited services.
Though comprising a smaller section of the overall industry, these mechanics still occupy close to 1,000 positions6. As cities grow and change, this position could offer long-term career stability.
Local Government Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $60,920
Local governments pay their mechanics just over $60,000 per year6. Like the federal branch, local governments also rely on diesel mechanics to manage and maintain city vehicle fleets from maintenance trucks, sanitation vehicles, and snow response vehicles.
Governments of all sizes need diesel mechanics to maintain vital vehicles and to comply with safety regulations. Currently, the field employs about 23,000 people around the country6.
Support Activities for Water Transportation Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $66,780
Diesel mechanics supporting water transportation make an average of just under $67,000 per year6. These mechanics work for companies and groups that maintain ports and harbors, pier facilities, and canals.
Mechanics here fill in to support a variety of work with the vehicles flowing through the water spaces and maintain equipment that aids in shipments and cargo. They make up a smaller part of the industry, but companies still employ about 400 people in these positions6.
Urban Transit Systems Diesel Mechanics Average Annual Salary: $53,880
Diesel mechanics maintaining urban transit systems make an average of about $54,000 per year5. They maintain vital public transportation vehicles, including buses and some trains. These mechanics support infrastructure for moving people from place to place while maintaining critical safety standards.
Urban transit employs around 2,000 mechanics per year and offers one of the highest concentrations of employment in the field6. Cities will continue to change, and this position could offer long-term stability.
Popular Career Paths With Diesel Mechanic Training
Career choices for diesel mechanics include a variety of industries.
- Oil, gas, and electricity: These industries rely on diesel engines in large transport trucks and trains to move products from place to place.
- Manufacturing, shipping, and logistics: Mechanics involved in these industries provide vital support for ensuring that businesses and the public can access goods and materials.
- Small business mechanics: Independent mechanics can work on personal vehicles or maintain vehicles for businesses using larger diesel trucks.
- Government: Governments from the local to the federal level need trucks and other diesel vehicles to administer public services, perform civic maintenance, and keep transportation flowing.
- Specialized industries: Fields like marine or special water activities also offer high salaries and lucrative careers because of their requirement for niche training. Candidates will need experience to apply.
In each of these industries, the more training or experience candidates possess, the higher salaries can reach. Employers in fields that rely on diesel engines to maintain operations look for reliable and experienced mechanics with problem-solving skills.
Average Salary for Diesel Mechanics
Diesel mechanics make an average of $21.70 per hour1. As mechanics gain more experience, start their own businesses, or join niche industries, such as marine or oil fields, they can earn closer to $30 per hour or more1.
Location can also make a difference. For example, diesel mechanics in San Diego, California, make an average of $27.76 per hour8 while those in Knoxville, Tennessee, make an average of just $17.62 per hour9.
How to Find a Job After You Graduate
High school remains a minimum requirement for becoming a diesel mechanic, but mechanics need more training to gain employment in fields that command higher salaries. Most potential diesel mechanics earn at least a certificate, with some choosing an associate degree. An associate degree delves deeper into the mathematics and science behind engines and allows for more significant career expansion.
Students can then take mastery certification exams, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Alternatives include certification from certain manufacturers for specific engine types. Potential job seekers can also leverage critical mechanic skills from military experience to find a position.
Potential mechanics can also pursue internships with licensed mechanics to learn the field or find entry-level jobs that offer critical on-the-job experience. They can continue to learn new skills, including vital technology skills for Industry 4.0.
Discover More About a Diesel Mechanic Career
Q. How much do diesel mechanics make?
The average diesel mechanic salary is around $50,000 per year, according to PayScale1. However, job seekers can pursue higher education and work in specialized industries that need diesel mechanics for operations.
Q. What is the starting salary for a diesel mechanic?
Entry-level salaries vary from state to state, but typical entry-level mechanics make around $20 per hour1.
Q. What is the job outlook for a diesel mechanic?
The BLS expects the field to grow around 8%, which is on par with most industries2.
Q. What is the highest-paying diesel mechanic job?
Mechanics lucky enough to find employment as a marine diesel mechanic can expect to earn close to six figures3. Those in the natural gas industry can make an average of about $89,000 per year6.
Q. What state pays the highest diesel mechanic salary?
Positions vary, but diesel mechanics in Alaska enjoy an average hourly wage of $28.88 per hour10.
Q. How long does it take to become a diesel mechanic?
Basic diesel mechanic certification can happen in a matter of three to nine months. Associate degree seekers must complete an average of two years of study. Internships and apprenticeships can add another one to three years to the overall timeline. For specialized fields, job seekers may need a certain amount of general experience to qualify for positions.
 PayScale (2021). Average Diesel Mechanic Hourly Rate. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Diesel_Mechanic/Hourly_Rate
 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/diesel-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
 PayScale (2021). Average Marine Diesel Mechanic Salary. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Marine_Diesel_Mechanic/Salary
 Transportation Security Administration (2021). Transportation Worker Identification Credential. https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic
 United States Coast Guard (n.d.). How to Obtain a Merchant Mariner Credential. https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Portals/9/NMC/pdfs/helpful_links/how_to_obtain_mmc.pdf
 Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Occupational Employment and Wages: Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493031.htm
 National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (n.d.). ASE Certification Tests. https://www.ase.com/ase-certification-tests
 PayScale (2021). Average Diesel Mechanic Hourly Rate: San Diego, California. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Diesel_Mechanic/Hourly_Rate/a6909781/San-Diego-CA
 PayScale (2021). Average Diesel Mechanic Hourly Rate: Knoxville, Tennessee. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Diesel_Mechanic/Hourly_Rate/b2d884ae/Knoxville-TN
 PayScale (2021). Average Diesel Mechanic Hourly Rate: Anchorage, Alaska. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Diesel_Mechanic/Hourly_Rate/d7cd9085/Anchorage-AK