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Diesel Opportunities

When most people see the word ‘diesel,’ they think of diesel trucks, but the truth is that diesel technicians have many more opportunities available to them. Diesel engines are also found in buses, trains, ships, farm and mining equipment, and even as the engine of choice to some drag racing teams. The expansion of diesel engines into other fields, such as aviation, is imminent, with diesel being not only the cheaper fuel in some places, but also a more efficient means of propulsion.

When Rudolf Diesel invented the engine in the late 1890’s, he had some idea of what it could be used for, but he probably didn’t know what kind of impact his invention would have on both the world and the people living in it. As diesel replaced steam, ships and locomotives were able to travel longer distances more quickly, making travel efficient and timely. A trip that would take weeks now took days, having an impact on both public relations and the economy. It also meant that there would be more skilled technicians needed, something that continues to be true as diesel engines expand into various mechanical fields.

Diesel mechanics have several opportunities, and not all are based in repair shops. Mechanics with a background in locomotives, for example, can work in train yards, but are also in demand for museums and exhibits with working models. They may also be employed by groups that are interested in preserving railway heritage, which is both productive and rewarding. Ship mechanics also have opportunities that lie beyond shipyards. An obvious choice is in military service, working on ships and aircraft carriers, but one that many don’t consider is a cruise ship. Cruise ships need mechanics to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes, and one of the greatest benefits of the job is the travel. Cruise employees also get free room and board, so there is little expense and nearly all of their earnings can be saved.

Mechanics who specialize in farm equipment are likely to be based in a shop, but not all work happens inside. Often farmers have equipment that breaks down on the job, and a mechanic may be called upon to drive to the field or farm and make repairs on site. Mechanics specializing in forestry or mining equipment have similar opportunities, working in shops with occasional on-site calls. These mechanics may also be employed by rental and service companies to maintain and repair rental equipment. Those mechanics who are proficient with racing engines have the prospect of employment with any number of racing teams who use diesel as their means of propulsion, an exciting career indeed.

As diesel engines continue to change and progress, so do the opportunities available to the mechanics who work on them. Rudolf Diesel projected that the engine could use any number of fuels, including vegetable oil and products derived from coal tar, increasing the agricultural and mining economies. Most of today’s engines use a petroleum-based diesel fuel, but as the supply of natural resources and fossil fuels continues to decrease, biodiesel engines, which use fuel made from renewable resources, will increase in use. Diesel technicians will have to keep up on the latest advances in engines and the applications thereof, keeping this an exciting and innovative field for years to come.

Read about schools offering diesel technology programs.
Read about career opportunities as a diesel technician.