When deciding whether to obtain a degree in either auto or diesel mechanics, it’s important to know the difference between the two. 

The work in these fields is very similar, from repairs to services. The main difference is the type of vehicle associated with each. 

We want you to make the best possible decision when it comes to your future education. 

To help you decide which path is right for you, read on as we dive into the difference between auto mechanics and diesel mechanics. 

We’ve also included which job opportunities, as well as salaries, you can expect in each field. Let’s go! 

Diesel Mechanics vs. Auto Mechanics

Before jumping into what each degree offers, let’s first define the difference between these two mechanical areas.

Diesel Mechanics

Diesel mechanics or diesel technicians are responsible for the maintenance and repairs of diesel engines. 

With a background in diesel mechanics, you can expect to work on engines found in buses, ships, trucks, and railway locomotives. Some electrical generators also require experience in diesel mechanics when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

As a diesel mechanic, you can work in a variety of places. These include truck dealerships, fleet maintenance companies, and freight businesses.

The tasks of diesel mechanics usually include:

  • Replacing and repairing diesel engine parts
  • Performing maintenance on diesel engines
  • Implementing preventative measures such as oil changes and tune-ups

Ultimately, diesel mechanics ensure these massive engines run smoothly. Knowledge of tools is a must! These tools include wrenches, welding equipment, and computers to help with diagnostics.

Auto Mechanics

Auto mechanics are skilled in repairing, servicing, and maintaining various types of automobiles. These professionals are responsible for both the engine and body of lightweight vehicles.

It is important to keep detailed records of each service, for warranty purposes. 

This career path also includes the following:

  • Repairing and servicing brake and electrical systems
  • Assessing engine performance and repairs
  • Knowledge of suspension, heating, and air-conditioning

Auto mechanics can expect to install, adjust and maintain mobile electronics such as sonar, sound, and security devices. 

It’s also an auto mechanic’s responsibility to advise customers on preventative maintenance and any additional repairs their vehicles may need.

Diesel Mechanic and Auto Mechanic Degrees

While both career paths require similar skills, each goes through specialized training.

For instance, certified diesel mechanics specialize in heavy-duty vehicles with diesel engines. They have a thorough knowledge of how these engines work. These are distinctly different from standard engines. 

Auto mechanics, on the other hand, have a better in-depth understanding of electrical systems in small passenger vehicles.

Let’s examine what you can learn when pursuing a degree as a diesel mechanic or an auto mechanic.

Diesel Mechanics Degree

A diesel mechanics degree will teach you about mechanical construction equipment, agricultural equipment, truck repair, and maintenance.

You can expect your program to include the following:

  • Industry standards
  • Diesel mechanics theory
  • Technical skills
  • Safety
  • Air Conditioning for Diesel Technology
  • Diesel Equipment Maintenance

While this degree primarily focuses on theoretical knowledge, you will also have the opportunity to complete an apprenticeship.

Auto Mechanics Degree

When pursuing an auto mechanics degree, you’ll specialize in mechanics for lightweight vehicles. These vehicles can range from passenger cars to motorcycles.

You can expect your program to include the following:

  • Electrical systems and electronics
  • Engine diagnosis and repair
  • Suspension and steering
  • Automotive transportation, air conditioning, and refrigeration
  • Hydraulic brake systems
  • Engine performance
  • Computerized engine control systems

Both degrees have very similar areas of learning. However, graduates from each degree will walk away with distinctly different areas of expertise. 

Job Opportunities 

Whether you choose a career in diesel or auto mechanics, know that there is demand for both. 

That being said, there is a higher demand for diesel mechanics, with approximately 30,000 employed in the US.

Knowing the potential salary of each qualification is important. Let’s look at the job opportunities for diesel and auto mechanics. 

Job Opportunities for Diesel Mechanics

Diesel Technology graduates are employed in the agricultural, industrial (truck and heavy equipment), and mining industries. If you pursue this path, you may also end up working for construction equipment companies, or fleet owners. 

A similar career path is that of medium-heavy vehicle truck technology technicians.

While salaries differ from area to area, diesel mechanics can expect to earn an average salary of $44,691.

Those specializing in diesel mechanics can find job opportunities as bus and truck mechanics, or diesel engine specialists. You may also find yourself working with heavy vehicles or marine diesel engines.

Expect to diagnose, adjust, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks. You’ll also maintain and repair any diesel engine. 

If this sounds interesting, you’ll also love working as a mechanical engineering technology technician

Here are some everyday job tasks that you can expect:

  • Using software tools to diagnose major and minor issues
  • Conducting safety inspections to ensure the vehicle is running smoothly and complies with safety requirements
  • Performing services and maintenance work such as oil changes and tire rotations

Job Opportunities for Auto Mechanics

According to Zippia, auto mechanics are most in-demand in Chicago, IL. As an auto mechanic, you can expect to earn a salary of $41,573.

Some auto mechanics also work as automotive mechanics technology technicians. Since auto mechanics also focus on the body and repair of the vehicle, you can also find work as collision repair technology technicians.

Auto mechanics are responsible for the following:

  • Repairing cars
  • Conducting minor or significant services on vehicles
  • Performing replacement services, such as oil changes
  • Completing proper vehicle inspections to find existing and potential issues

If you like the engineering aspect of auto mechanics, check out the career path of an automotive engineering technology technician.

Regardless of your choice, these degrees will allow you to get hands-on with a variety of machines. But, is it necessary to get a degree? 

Should You Get a Degree in Either? 

No matter which path you take, most auto and diesel mechanic jobs will require formal training with an apprenticeship. 

A degree backed by real-life experience will make you an ideal candidate for a position as an auto or diesel mechanic.

Auto Mechanics Training

To become a certified auto mechanic, you’ll need formal training with an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship will help you to gain real-life experience under the supervision of a mentor. 

An auto mechanics degree will teach you about working and developing your skills as an auto mechanic. The apprenticeship will give you real-life training and could lead to a permanent job if you perform well as an apprentice.

Diesel Mechanics Training

A diesel mechanic will also need to train as an apprentice, similar to auto mechanics. 

During this training, you’ll learn what kinds of tools, vehicles, and services are involved with your dream job.

Gaining experience, and training, will show you what to expect from work as a full-time diesel mechanic.

Final Thoughts

There are similarities between studying diesel and auto mechanics. Ultimately, your decision depends on your interests!

We suggest auto mechanics if you find performing repairs and services on lightweight vehicles a fantastic route. 

A degree in diesel mechanics is an excellent choice if you’re interested in heavy-weight vehicles such as ships, trucks, and trains.