Diesel mechanics play an important role in keeping the physical and the economic engines of the world running. The bulk of our major industries, from mining to agriculture, transport and manufacturing, rely on vehicles that run efficiently. Without somebody to fix and maintain parts, these industries would literally grind to a halt. If you are considering engineering studies, a diesel mechanic job may be right up your street.


Here’s a rundown of a typical day in the life of a diesel mechanic:


  • Work hours can vary greatly, but if you have a regular 8 to 5 job at a vehicle dealership or workshop, you’ll arrive before the shop opens to ensure that your tools are in working order. Your toolbox is your most valuable asset, and will include a variety of repair and testing equipment.


  • You’ll often also be tasked with ordering engine parts and keeping an inventory of parts, so this is another job you’ll want to complete to feel properly prepared for the day ahead. If you see that you don’t have a part you need for an upcoming job, you will need to order it early in the day.


  • When the shop opens, you may already have a job waiting for you from the night before, or one that rolls in as soon as the doors open. Part of your job will involve prioritising tasks that come in at the same time. You’ll often feel a sense of urgency from customers such as truck drivers or fleet managers, as they depend on their vehicles to make a living. Generally, you’ll put these commercial customers ahead of personal vehicle customers.


  • Your manager will ask you to keep track of the hours you work for each job so that they can bill the customer accordingly.


  • Each job will require a different set of skills or tasks. A repair job will involve identifying and repairing a problem in mechanical, electrical or electronic systems. You may also be performing maintenance such as engine tune-ups or brake adjustments, or using computers to test equipment and to do research on a problem that’s difficult to solve.


  • Throughout the day, you’ll be required to operate shop machinery and heavy equipment such as hydraulic jacks, overhead cranes, compressors and drill presses. To do your job effectively, it’s vital that you have a good understanding of how all this machinery works.


  • Sometimes, an emergency job may come in at the end of the day, which will require you to stay after your normal schedule. The businesses that rely on your expertise often run around-the-clock, so overtime work as a diesel mechanic is common.


Days for a diesel mechanic are busy but rewarding, and the career prospects are varied.


Diesel Mechanic's Tools


What are the career prospects like for a diesel mechanic?

South Africa’s automotive industry is vast, meaning that diesel mechanics enjoy excellent career options. There is a steady demand for good mechanics, and a wide range of potential employment sources. Large companies in industries that use heavy vehicles often employ in-house mechanics at good salaries, while workshops and dealerships rarely come to a standstill. Apart from working on trucks, buses and personal vehicles, diesel mechanics can also find specialised work in the shipping, rail, construction and aviation industries. See the average salary for a diesel mechanic here.

The technical nature of the job means that people with a formal qualification or vocational training have a much better chance of being hired as a diesel mechanic. Click here to find out how you can study towards a national certificate with Oxbridge Academy.


Have any further questions about how to become a diesel mechanic? Read: How to Become a Motor Mechanic