The Difference Between Automotive Technicians and Diesel Technicians

The Difference Between Automotive Technicians and Diesel Technicians

Thinking of working in auto or diesel repair? While these career paths share many similarities, they provide two different services.

Job skills and requirements

Automotive and diesel technology programs both typically include courses on servicing and repairing engines, transmissions, steering and suspension, climate control systems, electrical systems, and more. They also rely on many of the same fundamental skills, like an understanding of math, technology, and mechanics.

And although these basically seem to cover the same topics (and just about all you need to know about most motor vehicles!), the truth is that diesel systems just function differently. For starters, though gasoline and diesel engines are both internal combustion engines, diesel engines rely on compression ignition instead of using spark plugs to ignite fuel.

Work environment and pay

Both automotive techs and diesel techs perform basic care and maintenance on motor vehicles, perform diagnostics and assessments, and perform repairs and enhancements to ensure they run smoothly and efficiently. Job growth for both positions is also expected to grow at about the same rate, with 6% growth projected for auto techs and 9% growth projected for diesel techs—about as fast as average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While auto techs work primarily in dealerships and with mechanics, diesel techs are more likely to work in the truck transportation field or in wholesale trade. And their salaries can also vary, according to the BLS. Automotive service technicians and mechanics made a median annual salary of about $40,000 in 2018, while diesel techs earned about $47,000 the same year.

Ready to get started? The Imagine America Foundation has a robust database of schools where you can find both diesel technician and automotive technician programs in your area—so you can begin your journey to a great automotive or diesel technology career! IAF is proud to work with partner institutions like Universal Technical Institute, who offers training programs in a variety of technical fields—including both automotive and diesel technology.

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