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Diesel mechanic vs. diesel technician: The differences

Schneider diesel technician working on the computer near his service bay.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In the diesel industry, people often consider the terms ‘diesel mechanic’ and ‘diesel technician’ to mean the same thing. But many debate if there is a distinction between the two.

Let’s look at the arguments so you can make your own decision.

Diesel mechanic vs diesel technician definition

There are two main thoughts on what makes someone a diesel technician versus a diesel mechanic:

  1. If they focus on the mechanical parts of a diesel engine, they’re a diesel mechanic. If they work on the mechanical and electrical components of a diesel engine, they’re a diesel technician.
  2. Nowadays, semi-trucks use a lot of technology. So, anyone who works on trucks needs to know about both the mechanical and electrical systems. Both titles can be used interchangeably.

The section below explains the differences for those who believe there is a distinction between the two terms.

Diesel mechanic vs. technician job breakdown

1. Responsibilities.


Both diesel mechanics and technicians repair and maintain diesel-powered vehicles. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Identifying mechanical issues in diesel engines.
  • Doing preventative maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotations.

  • Performing minor and major repairs, such as engine overhauls and component replacements.

  • Communicating with customers.


Besides the “hands-on” tasks listed above, diesel technicians also use tech tools, such as computer systems. This helps to identify and diagnose problems within an engine’s electrical systems.

2. Skills


Both diesel mechanics and technicians must have a variety of skills to get their job done safely and correctly, including:

  • Diagnostic and repair skills.
  • Hydraulics knowledge.

  • Tooling knowledge.

  • Problem-solving skills.

  • Communication skills.


The biggest difference between a diesel mechanic and a technician is their technical expertise. While a diesel mechanic has basic computer skills, a diesel technician must have in-depth knowledge of technical programs so they can work on the electrical systems in diesel equipment.

The following are just some of the tasks a diesel technician does that require technical skills:

  • Understanding fault codes for engines and fueling systems.
  • Diagnosing electrical issues.

  • Troubleshooting codes.

  • Running different tests.

3. Certifications.


Both diesel mechanics and technicians can pursue a variety of professional certifications to advance their careers. These include certifications focused on:

  • Brake systems.
  • Diesel engines.

  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

  • Preventative maintenance.

  • Suspension and steering.


Since diesel technicians need to know about electrical systems, they can get a special certificate. This certificate is focused on understanding a diesel engine’s electrical and electronic systems.

4. Training and education.


Most companies ask for more training after high school for mid- to senior-level positions, whether you want to be a diesel mechanic or a diesel technician. Depending on how you decide to become a diesel professional, your training might include hands-on work experience and basic classes.

It’s important to note some educational institutions use the terms ‘diesel mechanic’ and ‘diesel technician’ interchangeably when describing their diesel programs. Many programs include training on vehicle electronic systems and technology no matter which term they use.

How hard is it to become a diesel technician?

You need the right skills and technical knowledge to be a diesel technician. Discover how hard it is to become one and see if it’s the right career for you.

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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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