Thinking of Becoming a Diesel Mechanic? How to Do it Right.
Our Saskatoon diesel shop was built on the love of diesel auto’s. Our techs here live and breathe diesel (not literally, we would be concerned in that case) – and they all took a good amount of training to be fully licensed, professional diesel mechanics.
Working in the auto repair industry is rewarding, which is why we love to see people aspire to be great diesel technicians.
People keep the industry alive, and great mechanics keep the industry genuine.
The best in the biz don’t attribute their success to just training and schooling alone, though. We asked our longest standing tech’s here at Superior Diesel what kept them excelling throughout their career- and how to best get started.
Pick Your Diesel Mechanic School Wisely
Training isn’t everything when becoming a killer diesel mechanic, but it’s a huge (and essential) part of it.
It’s pretty common for aspiring techs to know their way around a car before they even get to school, but self-taught experience alone doesn’t cut it.
Self-taught knowledge is valuable, but you’ll likely have some gaps in your learning where you end up missing important skills or knowledge.
Just like you’d be weary of a computer tech who never actually completed training, car owners want to know that a shop’s techs are fully trained and up to date skill wise.
As an experience diesel shop, it gets frustrating to see under-developed programs or unaccredited schools offering “full diesel mechanic training”. We see aspiring techs straight out of school that come to us with burning passion and dedication to the trade- but they haven’t been taught all the fundamental skills.
So, selecting the right diesel mechanical training program is crucial.
Tips On Choosing the Right Training Program
✔ Ensure the school is accredited. To become accredited, a school or training program has to demonstrate that they meet or surpass standards of excellence. It signifies the quality and accuracy of their educational provisions. That isn’t to say that unaccredited schools don’t offer quality education, but you have no way of verifying they’re a-ok.
✔ Ask about the class size. Training to become a mechanic is super hands on, and requires a lot of attention from instructors to work through processes and parts. Lecture based classes can afford larger populations. Hands on training requires more one-on-one and extra support to make sure you’re really understanding the curriculum.
✔ That being said, be weary of programs that entail a large amount of book-based training. There is no better way to learn than by physically doing, so while some paper and pen training is required, the majority of your training should be strictly hands on.
✔ Go on a tour, and check things out. Look at the equipment, learn about the instructors, learn about alumni.
✔ Ask about the job placement rate. The higher it is, the higher chance of the program successfully setting up their techs for success in the working world.
The Learning Never Stops
The auto industry changes. There are always new models and new techniques for mechanical services that you need to keep on top of.
If you think your learning is over once you finish up training, you’re in for a bumpy ride.
As a career driven tech, it’s on you to keep your knowledge up to date and to re-enroll in applicable training to further yourself.
Safe Mechanics Are The Best Mechanics
Whether it’s enthusiasm for your work, or just plain carelessness, safety as a tech isn’t important- it’s a must.
Developing workplace habits starts from day one, and techs who pay little attention to the safety of their workplace have never made it very far- in our experience at least.
It can be easy to become over confident, or want to cut corners.
It may even come from a place of excitement- your love for cars might cause you to work in a little bit of a frazzled nature. Whatever it may be, sloppy techs not only stop the acceleration of their career, but they also put themselves and others in danger.
After all, you are dealing with machines that weight up to 14,000 pounds. Precision & safety are #1!
Develop Your Computer Skills
You might not like it, but diesel mechanics work with computers pretty regularly.
Developing your computer skills is really important for a few reasons:
✔ Computers are used for diagnostics, and we have a strong feeling you’ll need these.
✔ Communication with customers and suppliers
✔ Writing notes in customer files, work orders or supply orders
✔ Navigating through your company’s CRM systems
✔ Creating and submitting reports, stories of cause and attaching pictures for insurance companies
To name a few. And while you don’t have to develop ninja like computer skills, you’ll need to be able to sufficiently operate and understand one.
If you don’t know much about computers, that’s fine! It doesn’t take long to develop these skills with some short courses or self-training.
Communication Skills Are Everything
A good diesel mechanic is able to communicate to various people, in various “languages.”
No need to rush off and learn Spanish- we’re talking about the ability to communicate with your shop, with suppliers and with customers.
While you understand industry lingo and what’s going on, drivers may not- it’s on you to be able to accurately and simply communicate with them about their car’s service.
You’re not exactly at the forefront of the customer service within a shop, but your ability to positively communicate is a must.
It may feel a little silly, but for those of you that are a little more shy or talking just isn’t your thing, there are resources out there to help you out.