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Anybody have knowledge of the wage a diesel mechanic makes?

ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 BannedO HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
Been thinking about how much I have been pissing and moaning about my job and pay lately and decided to take ya'lls advice and do something about it. I really have no other skill than using my hands to make a living, so I think its best to stick with it. I have a solid understanding of the mechanics of diesels, but not much on how to diagnose running issues with them. Im thinking of going to a night school or such to get my certification in diesels and diagnosing them. My question is, does this in itself pay well being that I could go from heavy equipment to OTR semi's, etc?

Replies

  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Google wages for your area, labor & industry etc.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Dellrose TNPosts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Virtually everything that's on the road has gone to computer electronic control, just like cars. My son drove for Averitt Express, a big company based in Cookeville Tennessee, and his truck had all sorts of computer controls on it. I just renewed my ASE certs on heavy trucks, and there's a LOT of electronic-related questions on the test. If you can get into a big fleet shop or a dealership, the pay should be about the same as a car dealer tech makes, or possibly a little higher. You'll need to buy several thousand dollars' worth of heavy-duty tools to move up to the big stuff. In most of the Diesel shops where I do inspections, the techs have at least 30K$ worth of tools in boxes that go on forever!
    Jerry
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    My google fu is terrible but I'll give it a try.
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Jerry I didn't consider the tools needed beyond what I already own for typical cars and trucks. Good call. Do I need to be looking at a school, college, tradeschool, etc to get the ball rolling?
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    there you go,

    Overview of BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation

    http://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Dellrose TNPosts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Nashville Auto-Diesel College is probably the best in the business so far as training and job placement rate, but the tuition is outrageous! A 14-month in-residence course was about 20K$ the last time I checked into it, plus living expenses. One school to avoid like the Plague is Universal Technical Institute. Check into the possibility of a state-supported trade school or maybe a community college with a Diesel mechanics course to get the basics of fuel system work and diagnosis. NADC was bought by Lincoln Tech a few years ago after being owned by the same family for almost 100 years. My father was Chief Instructor in the automotive division back in the late 1960's.
    Jerry
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Well I would have to stay local, but Im thinking that there is a tradeschool around here that I know offers automotive and Im wondering if they offer courses in diesel and heavy equipment repair. Im hoping maybe this could turn out to be a good thing if I put forth the effort and maybe get payed well for the work that I put in on a daily basis.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I think that with what you know now and are certified in now you should be doing rather well.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    I think that with what you know now and are certified in now you should be doing rather well.
    I would think so too. It seems that I have exhausted all the auto shops around this area minus a few dealerships because the dealer life is just not for me. The private shop I am with now would be nice if they stopped catering to the douche workers that refuse to do their jobs and reward the few of us that work twice as hard. Myself and the other "hard workers" still cant figure out why the owner and manager don't have the gull to speak up and do whats right. I just know that Im tired of waiting for "fare."
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    My dad went to college for diesel mechanic. He took a job with Saunders Leasing right out of school. They were eventually bought out by Ryder but he moved up to service manager before he died at 40 years old. He did pretty good with it. Buford seems to be doing fine working on heavy equipment. It is definitely worth exploring.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Thanks for the input Jerm. And I didn't know Buford worked on heavy equipment. Hopefully he chimes in too.
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member In the sticks, OHPosts: 5,617 Senior Member
    I know our head mechanic makes big bucks. Probably six figures. Heavy equipment.
    He's been doing it for 30 years, and is one of the best in town, though.
    There's definitely good money in being a heavy equipment mechanic. It takes a special kinda guy though, to battle the elements, mud, dust,dirt, and do everything out of a service truck. There are shop type equipment mechanics, engine builders, also.
    Looks like the average wage around here is about $45-50,000.
    Heck, a guy can make a great living just rebuilding Cummings, and Detroit diesels and Allison transmissions out of his garage.
    There are different levels of courses, from 31 hour certificates, to associates and bachelors degrees.

    Probably the best way to go about it, get a cert, and then try to get on as an apprentice/novice somewhere. Most of the job is OJT.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Dellrose TNPosts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Try manhandling a track back onto a Cat dozer after it runs off in ankle-deep mud a couple of degrees above (or below) freezing, and then tell me what you think the pay rate should be! One of the nastiest jobs I ever got into was trying to clear ice out of the fuel lines on a big Peterbilt tractor at -2 degrees F., in a sleet storm, and that was in a relatively clean paved parking lot of a truck stop. I really feel for the guys who have to do it out in the mud and diesel grease on a construction site in all sorts of nasty weather!
    Jerry
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    I am not by any means, wanting to work on heavy equipment out of a service truck. I am hoping to find a shop that works on large equipment such as heavy equipment and semi's, etc. I am used to the life of a typical repair shop and not looking to deviate far from it. I have already found a few places like CAT and Bobcat that are looking for inshop diesel techs and their payrate already shows to be around 10k more a year than I make already. I wont lie her guys. I make $15 an hour which is tough to run a family of four off of in todays economy with a single income. I just want to do better for my family and myself ya know.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Dellrose TNPosts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Good grief! That's a starvation wage for anybody with more than a basic knowledge of anything automotive! I was in four dealer shops doing warranty inspections last Friday, and the lowest posted labor rate was $85.00 an hour. The Range Rover dealer charges $104.00/Hr. Most line techs will average 35% or so of their hourly labor rate, so you should be knocking down 25-30 bucks an hour, minimum. When I was doing road service out of a 1-ton dually truck over 20 years ago, our labor rate was $50.00 an hour, and that's in Tennessee, where us inbred backwoods hicks work for nothing, according to the guys up north!
    Jerry
  • BufordBuford Senior Member CA. Beach citiesPosts: 6,721 Senior Member
    Being a heavy equipment mechanic has served me well. I used to install and work on shipboard propulsion systems. I got a call about 23 years ago from a friend asking me if I would be interested in a job as a heavy equipment mechanic. Smartest thing I did. The dealership I worked for sent me to the factory schools. If it moves dirt, makes roads or lifts heavy things I fix it. Its a tough job and at times you will be under a lot of stress. It is also rewarding, they let me play with what I fix. Like Jerry said everything is computer controlled now. You have to stay up with the diagnostics because thats where the money is. When you go out on a job with 10 trucks of asphalt lined up and the whole damn paving crew standing around you better know how to get that equipment up or let them know they need to bring in a back up.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    The lazy bastard at the shop with 22 years seniority that I often babysit, makes 17.50 an hour, mind you that we work off NO commision. Im being raped here boys. I know many people are quick to say that they are the best thing since sliced bread in what they do, but for me being 28 years old, I am a pretty sharp youngin. I take alot of pride in doing what I do and being a problem solver. My boss (the owner,) is a gready, money hungry fool. What kills me is that I can make the shop 2k or 15k a week and either way, I bring home a paycheck of 5 to 600 a week.
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Buford, I have no problem running under pressure. Its one thing that Im best at. In your opinion, does my jump from Auto tech to diesel tech sound like a good idea to you? I have a good knowledge with fords powerstroke diesels and the cummins engines in dodges, but the weirdo chevy diesel leaves me scratching my head except for replacing injectors and injection pumps along with other mechanical components.
  • BufordBuford Senior Member CA. Beach citiesPosts: 6,721 Senior Member
    I am not by any means, wanting to work on heavy equipment out of a service truck. I am hoping to find a shop that works on large equipment such as heavy equipment and semi's, etc. I am used to the life of a typical repair shop and not looking to deviate far from it.

    Well I have a shop deal right now with a road call once in a while. You want the good money but you don't want to do the time. I took me years of working in mud and rain and extreme heat to get where I'm at now. Used to have to get a 5 gallon bucket of water to put my wrenches in because they got too hot to hold. I wish you the best of luck. You have a lot of stipulations on what you will and wont do and that will not go over well in the field of heavy equipment mechanic.
    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • ghostsniper1ghostsniper1 Banned O HI OPosts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    Well I have a shop deal right now with a road call once in a while. You want the good money but you don't want to do the time. I took me years of working in mud and rain and extreme heat to get where I'm at now. Used to have to get a 5 gallon bucket of water to put my wrenches in because they got too hot to hold. I wish you the best of luck. You have a lot of stipulations on what you will and wont do and that will not go over well in the field of heavy equipment mechanic.
    Understood. If that is the case, I am willing to do what is needed to climb the ladder of life. Obviously the gig I have been doing for so long hasn't been treating me well. Im not trying to be picky. I just dont know much beyond the typical repair shop for cars and trucks. So what is your honest input, of what I should do next to get into this field? If its a service truck with road calls, so be it. Do you think my current certs will qualify me to get my feet wet? Btw, I have had my fare share of laying on cold concrete, working in 100+ degree temps in the summer, etc just to get the job done. I am a hard worker by nature. Its how I thrive and have survived thus far.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Dellrose TNPosts: 18,428 Senior Member
    As long as you're willing to bend over and grab your ankles for that kind of pay, it makes no difference how good you are. You're being used, and you're the only one who can change that. Do what's necessary to get paid what the job you're doing is worth, be aware that you don't become the top tech in a couple of weeks, and tell them where to stick their slave labor job.
    Jerry
  • JermanatorJermanator Senior Member Posts: 16,244 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    As long as you're willing to bend over and grab your ankles for that kind of pay, it makes no difference how good you are. You're being used, and you're the only one who can change that. Do what's necessary to get paid what the job you're doing is worth, be aware that you don't become the top tech in a couple of weeks, and tell them where to stick their slave labor job.
    Jerry
    Yep. An experienced tech should be getting $20 minimum... And that is still cheap.
    Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
    -Thomas Paine
  • ilove22silove22s Senior Member OregonPosts: 1,526 Senior Member
    dont know about diesel mechanics...but from what i suspect and others have pointed out alot of the vehicles/equipment will be "fly-by-wire" technology if not now, but probably in the near future. some car/suv mfg are using the tech currently and i would belive that you have to know just about everything including computers and diagnostics of the WHOLE system.

    if you can go to some diesel shops and request some time for an "informational" interview so you can ask some questions as to what they look for in terms of schooling/knowledge and skills.

    also, if you care to, look into some other trades. I was talking to an HVAC (furnance) guy that does residential and he says there arent alot of newer people going into that trade. some places had a 10k signup bonus.

    good luck in your search.
    The ears never lie.

    - Don Burt
  • Make_My_DayMake_My_Day Senior Member Lake County, FloridaPosts: 7,927 Senior Member
    Florida has state sponsored tech schools that have a diesel mechanics program located in Orlando. It is called "Mid-Florida Tech." Your state should have something similar, but if not, you really should consider moving out of your area to a place that at least has the opportunity to earn more money with your current skills. Sometimes doing the hard thing now, will make it easier for you in the long-run.
    JOE MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT:
    THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE NEW COMMUNISTS!
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Pensacola, FLPosts: 10,826 Senior Member
    ilove22s wrote: »
    dont know about diesel mechanics...but from what i suspect and others have pointed out alot of the vehicles/equipment will be "fly-by-wire" technology if not now, but probably in the near future. some car/suv mfg are using the tech currently and i would belive that you have to know just about everything including computers and diagnostics of the WHOLE system.

    Literally... I was checking fluids in the Cruze last night, and couldn't find the power steering reservior. So I looked at the rack. There is no pump anymore, it's all electric!
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Pensacola, FLPosts: 10,826 Senior Member
    Don't limit yourself to automotive either. I had to start at $14, but in 18mo I'm over $17.50 for an easy job where you watch the machine do the work 88% of the time. Level I tops at $19 and change, then you start learning more machines, become a Level II, and they top at $22...

    Working shifts is the downside, but you get another $.65 for working afternoons.... $.75 more for Midnights...
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
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