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A guide to the diesel technician career path: Entry-level to executive

A Schneider diesel technician is standing outside of service bay doors.
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March 14, 2022

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Whether you’re wondering what you can do with a diesel technician degree or are looking to develop your skills while on-the-job, having a clear understanding of what a typical diesel technician career path looks like will be beneficial as you map out your future in the shop.

Below we’ve listed some promising shop advancement opportunities to give you a better idea of where your career as a diesel technician could take you.

Stages of a diesel technician career path may include:

1. Diesel technician I.

What does a diesel technician I do?

The diesel technician I role is for entry-level technicians who perform troubleshooting, routine maintenance and component replacements. They may also handle non-technical tasks, such as parts socking and maintaining a clean work area.

How to become a diesel technician I

Diesel technician I is the first career step for recent tech school graduates, and in some instances, individuals who want to learn the trade on the job versus going to school.

2. Diesel technician II.

What does a diesel technician II do?

Work assignments for diesel technician II roles involve a wider variety of maintenance tasks compared to entry-level roles, including tire replacements, brake installations, safety inspections and tractor system repairs. This exposure to more complex repairs makes it ideal for up-and-coming technicians looking to deepen their maintenance expertise.

While Schneider uses the title “Diesel Technician II” to distinguish our mid-level technicians, some shops may lump entry-level and mid-level technicians in one role.

In these situations, technicians are gradually given more responsibility the longer they are in the role.

How to advance to diesel technician II

After about two years of on-the-job experience, technicians may be given the opportunity to advance to diesel technician II. Companies sometimes start individuals with a technical degree and no experience at diesel technician II and leave the diesel technician I roles for people who do not have a degree in diesel technology.

3. Mobile diesel technician.

What does a mobile diesel technician do?

Some companies have mobile diesel technicians who perform on-site maintenance at locations outside the shop with a service truck that’s stocked with tools and parts. The environment these technicians work in varies between shops. For example, Schneider's service truck technicians work mostly at customer sites, distribution centers and rail yards.

Other shops may have their technicians handle roadside repair jobs, which are more dangerous since work is done close to fast-moving traffic. Schneider technicians do not perform roadside work.

How to become a mobile diesel technician

When hiring for mobile diesel technician roles, shop leaders look for technicians who can be trusted to communicate with customers and work independently. This type of position usually requires about two to four years of experience working in the shop.

Senior diesel technician standing near the service bays in a Schneider facility.

4. Senior diesel technician.

What does a senior diesel technician do?

Generally speaking, senior diesel technicians are highly skilled technicians who can perform more challenging maintenance tasks, including major wreck repair.

Schneider’s senior tractor technicians are responsible for truck diagnosis, estimations and corrections, routine rebuilds and replacements and technical repairs. They are also trusted with making critical repair decisions that deliver the best value and prioritize safety.

How to become a senior diesel technician

Depending on the company, diesel technicians may find opportunities to advance to senior technician roles as they improve their skills through schooling or on-the-job training. You would need about two to four years of experience working as a diesel technician to move up to a senior-level role without a degree or certification.

5. Maintenance team leader.

What does a maintenance team leader do?

Maintenance team leaders generally work closely with their technicians, providing guidance and driving success among team members.

In addition to coaching technicians, Schneider’s maintenance team leaders track performance, assist with on-the-job work and safety audits and make repair decisions that minimize equipment downtime. They also assist the shop manager with a variety of duties, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of how shops operate.

How to become a maintenance team leader

Maintenance team leader roles are usually available as an advancement opportunity for senior technicians with at least four years of total work experience in the shop. These are individuals who have shown leadership potential in their work, usually by coaching other technicians through challenging repairs.

6. Shop manager.

What does a shop manager do?

Generally speaking, the job duties of a shop manager include a wide range of administrative tasks that support the day-to-day operations of the shop.

For example, Schneider’s shop managers are responsible for maintaining a high-performance environment by leading efforts that lower the cost of repairs, increasing equipment availability in the shop and ensuring the service provided is up to standard.

They are given a broad exposure to the entire company, which opens up a number of other career opportunities within the enterprise.

How to become a shop manager

Skilled maintenance team leaders with about two to four years of experience may have opportunities to pursue a management position. A strong track record of developing successful technicians are essential to getting the job.

7. Corporate-level maintenance opportunities.

Examples of corporate maintenance jobs

Though the shop manager position is often the highest rank within a diesel shop, many larger companies offer room to advance to a higher-level maintenance role within the organization. Generally speaking, these opportunities deal with the overall coordination of fleet or equipment maintenance efforts.

Accomplished diesel shop managers who want to continue leading maintenance facilities sometimes advance to a regional leadership position.

Schneider’s regional maintenance directors lead all maintenance sites within their designated region by:

  • Providing strategic direction to maintenance sites across their designated region.
  • Planning for the current and future needs of those maintenance sites.
  • Making best value decisions that result in maximum equipment availability.

Many Schneider shop managers leverage their team management experience to pursue leadership roles in other areas of maintenance, including parts distribution, operations, inventory management, fleet sales and operations.

How to advance to a corporate maintenance leadership role

Shop associates who advance to a corporate maintenance leadership role are selected for their strong team management and problem-solving skills. A regional maintenance director role requires about six years of experience in a shop management position.

As a shop manager, you should focus on driving efforts that develop team members, ensure timely and high-quality service, lower repair costs and uphold safety standards.

Schneider Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Rob Reich is just one example of an executive who started his career in one of our company shops.

Rob came into a shop manager role in 1992 after serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and leveraged his frontline leadership experience to effectively lead Schneider’s shops in New Orleans and Los Angeles.

The opportunity prepared him for a role in Schneider’s maintenance operations division, where he continued to advance through several senior leadership positions across the company.

Looking for a diesel technician career with room to advance?

Schneider offers a wide range of diesel technician opportunities in our nationwide shop network. Work with a proven company that takes your safety and career growth seriously.

About the author
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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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