Lincoln Tech has 22 campuses located throughout the United States, and they have been educating tomorrow’s workforce since 1946. Lincoln Tech trains its students to enter the workforce in the automotive, skilled trades, health sciences, culinary, spa and cosmetology, and information technology career fields. They are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
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Bob Martin: Joining us on this edition of Imagine America Radio is Jim Kuntz, campus president, Lincoln Tech in South Plainfield, New Jersey. The topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio: diesel technician careers. As a leading provider of quality education and training for diesel technicians, we couldn’t think of anyone or any school better to talk about this than Jim Kuntz and Lincoln Tech.
Before we start off, may I call you Jim?
Jim Kuntz: You can.
Bob: Great. We really appreciate you joining us. For the benefit of our audience, could you very quickly outline what a career in diesel technology is, and what are diesel technicians doing on a daily basis?
Jim: Sure. Well, let me start off by saying, if you want a great career in diesel, prepare to get your hands dirty. Diesel techs inspect, keep up, and repair diesel engines for car dealerships, private garages, repair shops. And diesel engines are known for their hard work—and because of that, they’re found in a lot of very hardworking vehicles: buses, large trucks, boats, bulldozers, dump trucks, cranes, light-duty trucks and cars, and even forklifts can be powered by diesel engines.
Diesel engines are different from gas-powered engines, and they have different needs and requirements for being serviced. Mechanics typically deal with everything from routine oil changes to full engine rebuilds. Diesel techs have to understand the vehicles’ electrical systems, engine, and all of its working parts. And they’re familiar with the mechanical/technical using diagnostic computer software on some of the most advanced vehicles to identify these issues.
Lee Doubleday: Jim, this is Lee. I’m talking to Jim Kuntz, campus president of [Lincoln Tech] South Plainfield, New Jersey. I have a question for you: What does the career outlook look like for diesel technicians—both on maybe a national level and then maybe even a little more granular in the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania region alone?
Jim: So, the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics say that possibly in the year 2028, it’s projected there’s going to be a need to hire almost 300,000 diesel technicians across the country. I can tell you that in the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania region, we just do not have enough graduates to keep up with the demand. Job growth is expected to be around 35,000 for these diesel techs.
Lee: Wow! 35,000 for your area and 300,000 nationally. It looks like diesel mechanics are in high demand, so it seems like something worth getting an education in. I have a three-parted question for you.
Number one, should someone go to school to learn how to become a diesel technician? Number two, what does a typical program include? Is it heavy equipment, suspension systems, etc.? And number three, how long is a typical diesel technician program?
Jim: Well, you’re looking at anywhere from 13 to 16 months, depending on if you want a degree or diploma. And absolutely, you need to attend school. The trucks are so advanced technology-wise that today’s backyard mechanics, they’re just not going to be able to keep up.
In terms of what does the program include? You are looking at suspensions systems. We have a lot of—in South Plainfield, we have a heavy equipment program as well that’s all powered by diesel equipment or diesel engines. And you’re looking at tracking systems, hydraulics, there’s even a welding component in it—along with diesel engines. We even give a short course on gas engines, so they get the theory on gas engines as well. That’s a very small part of the program. So all of those things are what you’re going to be looking at at South Plainfield – Lincoln Tech.
Lee: Wow. Thank you for kind of running me through that. Now, let’s say I’m a student who’s interested in diesel technology. When I tour a campus that offers this program, what are a few things that I should be looking for? Because a program such as this, it seems as though I’m going to need to learn on updated equipment in order to stay relevant with current work environments. So would the equipment that the school uses to train its students be something I should consider? And what else should I consider? Is it accreditation or maybe instructor certifications or partnerships with employers? I know that’s a big deal.
Can you kind of give me a checklist on what it is that I should be looking for when deciding where I should go to school to learn diesel technology?
Jim: Absolutely. You certainly want to ensure that the equipment in the school is up to date and it works. That’s extremely important. At Lincoln Tech, all of our equipment is real world, and it’s what you’re going to be working on if you’re in a dealership or in a truck stop.
You want to ensure that the program is accredited and certified for both. We are ACCSC accredited, and we’re ASE certified. That means, once you go out to get your certifications, the time you spent at the school will count towards your certification. All of our instructors are certified in the classes they teach, and most are master technicians. So you know you’re being taught by competent individuals.
Two or three times a year, we’re holding career fairs at South Plainfield. The last three career fairs we had, we had over 60 employers there. Like I said earlier, we have more—or less graduates than the demand is being called for. We’ve actually had students offered jobs on the spot at our career fairs. So we have a lot of different partnerships or relationships with the local community, and some have even gone out of state to find jobs as well.
Bob: We’re talking to Jim Kuntz, campus president, Lincoln Tech of South Plainfield, New Jersey. You’ve been around a long time in this area and trained a lot of diesel technicians. Tell us what you think, in your mind, are the three or four most important personality traits of a successful student, successful employee? And I got to believe a lot of these folks are looking at opening up their own shops.
Jim: Yes, they are. The first thing you need is you need to have really good analytical skills. Analysis plays an essential role in diagnosing diesel engines and malfunctions. Even if the diesel engine utilizes electronic-diagnosed equipment, whether it’s a railway car or a semi-truck, diesel techs need to be able to thoroughly examine and diagnose those diesel-powered vehicles. You want to be able to have troubleshooting skills. Troubleshooting skills work directly with the technician’s and the mechanic’s analytical skills to successfully repair diesel-powered engines. You want interpersonal skills. At some point in time, you’re going to become a manager of a shop. Especially if you want to own your own shop, you’re going to be dealing with customers on a day-to-day basis. And if you’re really interested in moving up the dealership’s ladder or the independent shop’s ladder and getting to management—or if you want to own your business—you’re going to have to have some really good leadership skills. For those who wish to obtain leadership positions at diesel corporations, having the proper leadership skills is going to be vital to increasing one’s chance of being promoted.
Bob: That’s great, Jim. We really appreciate it. We’re talking to Jim Kuntz, campus president, Lincoln Tech in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Here are my takeaways—and correct me if I’m wrong or modify them if you feel a need to.
My first takeaway from today’s conversation is that I understand that diesel technician careers are in extremely high demand, with job opportunities available both nationally and regionally. Further, I understand that there’s 300,000 job opportunities nationwide and 35,000 in the South Plainfield metro area.
Second thing I heard is Lincoln Tech – South Plainfield, New Jersey, is a leading nationally accredited school providing education and training needed to fill these jobs right now. You’ve got the programs that can lead people to successful employment.
Finally, I’m hearing a guy by the name of Jim Kuntz at Lincoln Tech that’s available to answer any questions for potential students, parents, guidance counselors, whatever. So, Jim, I’m going to give you a chance, if you don’t mind, to repeat your contact information—email, telephone numbers, that sort of thing.
Jim: Sure. The first thing is the website: lincolntech.edu. If you want to contact me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can call the school directly at (908) 756‑7155.
Bob: We want to thank today’s guest, Jim Kuntz, Lincoln Tech – South Plainfield, New Jersey. The topic of today’s episode of Imagine America Radio has been diesel technician careers. We want to thank today’s podcast audience for taking time out of their busy and hectic schedules to listen to this edition of Imagine America Radio.
On behalf of my colleague, Lee Doubleday, and myself, please be safe and we’ll be talking to you all very soon. Thank you and goodbye.