How Much Does a Diesel Mechanic Make a Year?

By Marcy Lovitch · July 28, 2023 · 6 minute read

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How Much Does a Diesel Mechanic Make a Year?

Even if you haven’t thought about diesel mechanics before, chances are you’ve benefited from their expertise. These skilled technicians fix the machines that harvest our food, the generators that provide electricity when the power goes out, the big rigs that ferry our goods across the country, and so much more.

Being a diesel mechanic requires a certain skill set and level of training. Generally speaking, they tend to earn slightly more than auto mechanics. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for a diesel mechanic is $48,690 per year, or $23.41 per hour. (By comparison, the median pay for an auto mechanic is $46,880 per year, or $22.54 per hour.) However, pay rates can vary depending on where a technician works and their level of experience.

What Do Diesel Mechanics Do?

Diesel mechanics inspect, repair, and maintain vehicle engines that run on diesel fuel. This includes everything from trucks, overhaul buses, and trains, to cruise ships, generators, and construction and agricultural equipment. Their goal is to make sure vehicles are safe for both drivers and passengers.

A diesel mechanic position is a manual labor trade job you can get without a college degree, though most employers want diesel techs to have at least a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. While you don’t need secondary education to do the job, you do need specialized training, which can be acquired on the job, through a certificate program, or by attending a trade or vocational school.

And though diesel mechanics may need to occasionally speak with customers about issues with the vehicles, it can be a good job for introverts.

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Examples of a Diesel Mechanic’s Job Responsibilities

There are many daily responsibilities for a diesel mechanic, ranging from simple servicing to major repairs. For instance, when examining a diesel engine, the mechanic can run a diagnostic test to determine if the engine is running properly. If there’s a problem, a diesel mechanic can replace a vehicle’s engine, transmission, steering, and braking systems.

Here are some other essential work duties a diesel mechanic typically performs:

•   Identifying any engine malfunction issues

•   Securing the parts needed for servicing

•   Test driving vehicles for performance

•   Communicating issues about the vehicle to the customer and advising them on how best to maintain the machinery

•   Keeping detailed work records on engines serviced

What Is the Starting Salary for a Diesel Mechanic?

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for an entry-level diesel mechanic in the U.S. is $38,456 a year. This breaks down to approximately $18.49 an hour, which in some states is only a few dollars more than minimum wage. Working at this rate comes out to be $739 a week or $3,204 a month.

Whether you’re paid a set weekly salary or hourly rate, starting out as an entry-level diesel mechanic can be challenging. The wages may be difficult to live on, especially if you have a lot of financial obligations or live in a place with a higher cost of living.

But if working with machinery and, in particular, on diesel engines is what you really want to do, it can be worth any initial sacrifices. And the good news is, diesel mechanic jobs are expected to continue to grow. So in time, you can move up the ladder or seek out a new job to increase your yearly salary.

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What Is the Average Diesel Mechanic Salary by State?

If you’re considering going into the field, you may be wondering how much a diesel mechanic makes a year. As previously mentioned, the median pay for a diesel service technician and mechanic is $48,690 per year, or $23.41 per hour.

Keep in mind that in certain areas, there’s an increased demand for diesel mechanics, which means there’s a greater chance pay rates will be higher. Per ZipRecruiter, here’s the average diesel mechanic salary by state.


Annual Salary

Alabama $47,167
Alaska $51,024
Arizona $44,680
Arkansas $49,830
California $46,127
Colorado $46,225
Connecticut $52,830
Delaware $50,876
Florida $36,659
Georgia $35,806
Hawaii $62,784
Idaho $52,657
Illinois $43,238
Indiana $48,669
Iowa $57,473
Kansas $53,686
Kentucky $46,223
Louisiana $42,718
Maine $50,513
Maryland $48,486
Massachusetts $53,382
Michigan $43,086
Minnesota $61,283
Mississippi $52,587
Missouri $52,531
Montana $42,669
Nebraska $45,549
Nevada $53,507
New Hampshire $47,757
New Jersey $44,682
New Mexico $47,691
New York $58,441
North Carolina $49,082
North Dakota $47,576
Ohio $50,582
Oklahoma $50,671
Oregon $51,376
Pennsylvania $41,550
Rhode Island $56,114
South Carolina $45,138
South Dakota $59,477
Tennessee $55,858
Texas $41,608
Utah $56,740
Vermont $45,870
Virginia $47,185
Washington $59,028
West Virginia $42,562
Wisconsin $41,647
Wyoming $44,289

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Diesel Mechanic Job Considerations: Pay and Benefits

Looking for a diesel mechanic job? Along with researching positions with competitive pay, it’s important to factor in employer benefits.

Here are common employee benefits offered to diesel mechanics:

•   Health, dental, vision, and life insurance

•   401(k) with possible employer match

•   Tuition reimbursement

•   Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and/or Health Savings Account (HSA)

•   Paid sick days, vacation, and holiday pay

•   Parental leave

•   Stock options

•   Profit sharing

•   Low prescription drug costs

•   Wellness programs, such as free counseling services

Pros and Cons of a Diesel Mechanic’s Salary

When it comes to a diesel mechanic’s earnings, there are potential upsides and downsides you’ll want to keep in mind.

Advantages of a Diesel Mechanic’s Salary

Disadvantages of a Diesel Mechanic’s Salary

Salary can be comfortable depending on state or city where you work Wages may not be enough if you live in a state or area with a higher cost of living
Steady work schedule with opportunities for overtime pay Salaried workers may not be entitled to overtime pay
Pay can rise with career experience, increased job education from extra certification, training programs, or vocational school Lack of work experience and little to no training can mean a lower salary when you first start out
Can receive a commission, tips, or bonus in addition to base salary, depending on the company Employers may not offer commissions or bonuses, and employees may not be allowed to accept tips

The Takeaway

The median pay for a diesel service mechanic is $48,690 per year, or $23.41 per hour, according to the latest figures from the BLS. However, that amount can vary by state, and there may be opportunities to earn more with additional training and experience. Diesel mechanics are in demand, and jobs are expected to continue growing. This means skilled technicians may have opportunities to join companies that offer benefit packages, potentially move up the ranks, and even increase their take-home pay.

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What is the highest-paying diesel mechanic job?

According to some of the top online job seeker sites, the highest salaries for a diesel mechanic clock in around $70,000 or more a year. Types of diesel mechanics who generally make more money include those who work on heavy duty trucks, tractor trailers, and water-based vessels such as cargo and cruise ships.

How much does a diesel mechanic earn in the Bay Area?

The average annual diesel technician salary in San Francisco is $58,022, but salaries can span from $42,000 to $79,000 a year. The average hourly rate for diesel techs in the Bay Area is $27.90.

Is being a diesel tech worth it?

For people who enjoy working with their hands and have an interest in the workings of machinery, becoming a diesel tech can be a rewarding career. The field offers opportunities for constant learning, increased expertise, job stability and room for career advancement.

Photo credit: iStock/sathit trakunpunlert

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