Diesel Service Manager Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a diesel service manager? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to see if becoming a diesel service manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Diesel Service Manager

Diesel service managers provide a combination of hands-on mechanical maintenance and repairs in addition to managerial and supervisory duties. Below are some pros and cons that might help you make an informed career decision.

Pros of a Diesel Service Manager Career
May qualify with only a high school diploma or its equivalent*
Decent pay for the level of education (median salary of about $43,630 for diesel engine technicians in 2014)*
Diversity of job tasks for technicians (inspect brakes, engines and electrical equipment for buses, trucks and diesel engine vehicles)*
Jobs can include benefits (health, dental, vision, life insurance, etc.)**

Cons of a Diesel Service Manager Career
Substantial work experience can be required**
Potentially hazardous conditions on the shop floor*
Must monitor employee performance for efficiency**
May be responsible for profit and loss performance and reporting**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings on Careerbuilder.com in April 2012.

Essential Career Information

Job Duties and Description

As a diesel service manager, you would oversee the technicians in a dealership that sells, maintains and repairs diesel powered engines used in buses and trucks. You're often responsible for hiring and monitoring all personnel. Most likely you'll have full responsibility for profit and loss performance and reporting. As such, it will fall to you to control costs, build a loyal clientele, maintain sales records, meet sales objectives and establish good employee relations. You may be called on to conduct training classes for your staff. You look into employee and customer complaints with an eye toward establishing and maintaining an efficient and pleasant work atmosphere and cordial customer relations. You must keep abreast of manufacturer's policy procedures and warranties. You may also be responsible for creating an operating budget and a marketing plan.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for diesel service mechanics was about $43,630 in 2014. As a service manager, your salary is typically higher than that of a mechanic. However, your experience as a certified mechanic or manager often plays a big part in determining the actual amount. The BLS projects that employment opportunities for diesel service technicians are expected to increase 9% from 2012-2022. The need for service managers is expected to keep the same pace. This is about the same as the national average for all occupations. Because diesel engines are more efficient and durable than gasoline engines, you may see an increase in their use not only in trucks but in smaller vehicles as well.

Education and Training

The BLS states that most employers require diesel mechanics to hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. While employers often place more importance on work experience as a working mechanic and manager than they do on formal degree programs, certificate and associate's degree programs are available in diesel technology. These programs could help you gain relevant knowledge and experience in the field. Schools may offer diesel technology programs that emphasize service management. Areas of study could include engines and fuel systems, preventative maintenance, air-conditioning systems, vehicle electronics, transmissions and powertrains.

In addition to training and possible education, future diesel service managers should possess a common set of skills that are necessary to the job. This can include technical skills, mechanical skills, dexterity and customer service.

What Employers Are Looking for

Diesel service managers should be thoroughly knowledgeable and up-to-date on all aspects of diesel technology. It's important that a service manager is able to address any situation having to do with the coordination of the duties of mechanics and technicians and respond effectively and correctly to customer concerns. Work experience is typically mandatory for manager positions. Below are some examples of job postings made during April 2012:

  • A truck stop in Tennessee has an opening for a diesel mechanic manager. In this role you'd be directly responsible for coordinating and supervising all mechanics and technicians, counseling employees and investigating accidents. Applicants should be computer literate and have a considerable amount of experience in tractor-trailer maintenance and repair.
  • A Pennsylvania truck stop is seeking qualified applicants for a position as a full-time truck service assistant manager. Applicants should have at least one year of experience working in truck service and repair. The job entails ordering, scheduling, maintaining inventory and providing excellent customer service. You'll have full profit and loss responsibilities of the entire repair shop.
  • A truck dealership in Virginia is looking for applicants for the position of general manager. To be eligible for consideration, applicants must have at least five years of senior management experience, preferably at a truck dealership or similar business. Applicants must also be computer-literate and hold a bachelor's degree. They should have experience with setting budgets, performing financial analysis and possess strong supervisory and communication skills.
  • A truck shop in Arizona wants to hire a shop manager who has at least five years of appropriate management experience. Applicants should have an associate's degree or related mechanical or automotive certificate or a combination of the two. Strong computer skills are a must. You should have a working knowledge of management principles and be able to communicate clearly and effectively with workers and customers. Hours may include evenings, weekends and on-call assignments.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Though you can secure a position with only a high school education, you may find that employers may take more notice of you if you hold a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree. Computers are being used more often in all businesses, including diesel repair shops. Your postsecondary training should include computer usage in addition to management techniques and communication skills.

You may notice that employers require that their managers have considerable on-the-job time either as technicians or in a supervisory capacity. The more experience you can accumulate, the better off your chances may be for securing the position you want. According to the BLS, certification by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the industry standard for quality in diesel technology. While certification is voluntary and primarily used for mechanics and technicians, you may find ASE certification can demonstrate your dedication, competence and experience as you apply for a management position in diesel service.

Alternative Career Paths

Industrial Production Manager

If manufacturing is more appealing to you than maintenance and repair, becoming an industrial production manager may be a suitable career alternative, if. You may spend time on the production floor overseeing and coordinating day-to-day operations of a plant that may in fact manufacture diesel-fueled vehicles. Time spent on the shop floor may be hazardous, since you'll be working and walking around heavy equipment. The BLS states that you may be able to secure an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in an area such as business administration or industrial engineering. Employers may also require you to have 2-5 years experience either as a production worker or supervisor. With a median annual salary of about $88,000, the BLS projects employment opportunities for industrial managers to increase about nine percent from 2010-2020.

Industrial Engineer

An industrial engineer is a type of efficiency expert. An industrial engineer looks for ways to increase productivity or provide a service by way of the efficient use of information, equipment, machines and personnel. The BLS states that with a bachelor's degree, you may qualify for an entry-level position. You may find that a co-op program might be to your liking. Schools offer 5- or 6-year co-op programs that provide you with real-world business experience while you earn your degree. Some states require industrial engineers to be licensed. The BLS determined the median annual salary for industrial engineers to be about $77,000. Employment opportunities for industrial engineers are only expected to increase six percent from 2010-2020. Because an industrial engineer is a generalist, there is a wide range of job settings. These include research and development firms, hospitals, manufacturing industries and consulting services.

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