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Bus and Truck Mechanics

At a Glance

  • Repair and maintain diesel engines in a variety of vehicles
  • Have a low level of social interaction
  • May work overtime, nights, and weekends
  • Have a commercial driver's license
  • Train on the job or through a formal training program
  • Many belong to unions

Career summary

Bus and truck mechanics maintain and repair diesel engines.

Bus and truck mechanics may also be called truck, bus, transit or diesel mechanics.

#Part of 3114 Heavy Equipment Mechanics. Removed some titles that were redundant because of 100095 and added WOIS title.

#reviewed 3/28/19 lh

Bus and truck mechanics work on several types of vehicles with diesel engines. These include heavy equipment and:

Some bus and truck mechanics maintain vehicles. They change oil, check batteries, adjust brakes, and grease parts. They also clean or replace parts. They inspect and adjust vehicles' safety and protective features and check for loose bolts.

Bus and truck mechanics repair vehicles that are not working properly. They read job orders to learn what work needs to be done on vehicles. They follow the factory guidelines for upgrading parts or tuning engines.

They sometimes use hand-held computers to determine which part of the vehicle is causing the problem. They attach computers to parts and read the gauges to identify problems. They often take engines apart to fix problems.

Bus and truck mechanics use power tools to weld exhaust systems, to grind brakes, or to hoist heavy engines. They also use hand tools such as pliers, wrenches, and screwdrivers.

Some mechanics work on all parts of busses or trucks. Mechanics may also specialize in a particular area, such as pumps, generators, brakes, or transmissions.

Mechanics keep shop machinery functioning. They maintain and repair machinery, such as pumps and compressors.

Related careers

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to bus and truck mechanics.

Common work activities

Bus and truck mechanics perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, bus and truck mechanics:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Bus and truck mechanics frequently:

It is important for bus and truck mechanics to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for bus and truck mechanics to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Bus and truck mechanics need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a bus and truck mechanic, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Some bus and truck mechanics complete formal training programs. Professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer these programs. In most diesel service technician programs, you get a combination of class instruction and hands-on practice. Programs last between six months and two years. You usually earn an associate degree when you complete a two-year program.

In a diesel service program, you study the latest truck technology. You learn how to service and repair vehicles. You also learn how to understand technical manuals. In addition, you learn to communicate with customers and coworkers.

On-the-job training

Most bus and truck mechanics are trained on the job by an experienced mechanic. You begin by working as a helper. As a helper, you usually clean parts and put fuel in vehicles. As you gain more experience, you work on more complex tasks. During training, you learn to:

On-the-job training usually takes three to four years to complete.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be mechanics. They offer training in several types of engines, such as boat, auto, and heavy equipment. Training lasts eight to 29 weeks, depending on your specialty. Further training occurs on the job.

Washington apprenticeships

In Washington, the requirements for automotive machinists apprenticeship programs are as follows:

Additionally, applicants must:

Be sure and contact Labor and Industries, or check their apprenticeship website to see if programs are currently being offered.

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#Checked apprenticeship info 2/15/18 cj. This is becoming difficult to verify 3/28/19 lh

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire bus and truck mechanics who graduate from formal training programs. Many employers work with training programs to provide instructors with the latest equipment, techniques, and tools. Employers help students learn what they need to know for the job. This relationship also helps employers hire skilled workers.

For unskilled entry-level jobs, employers look for workers who have mechanical aptitude and strong problem-solving skills. Bus and truck mechanics also must be at least 18 years old and in good physical condition. Most employers require completion of high school or a GED.

Some construction contractors seek mechanics who have a welding or hydraulics background. Some construction equipment mechanics are hired through the International Union of Operating Engineers. Many employers want workers to have, or be able to obtain, a commercial driver's license.


Take auto or agricultural mechanics classes while in high school. Start buying and collecting tools that are used in this occupation since most mechanics are required to supply their own. Some firms prefer experienced auto mechanics who are then trained in the additional skills required for working on trucks. Opportunities are best for people with formal training. Computer skills will be needed as this occupation shifts toward computer-oriented servicing. Workers also must keep current with technical information and government regulations. Attending a school whose program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) can be beneficial.

Costs to workers

Mechanics who test drive trucks must get a combination driver's license (CDL) and pay a fee to the State of Washington. Most bus and truck mechanics must buy their own hand tools. Some are required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and annual dues.

#Moved details on licensing costs and contact info to licensing section since the license is required for workers who need to test drive the trucks they work on, 2/21/12 cj.


Mechanics who test drive trucks or buses must get a combination driver's license (CDL) from the Washington State Department of Licensing. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and have a valid Washington State driver's license.

For more information on commercial driver's licenses, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Driver Examining CDL Program (external link)

PO Box 9030
Olympia, WA 98507-9030

#Checked info & made minor change to fees 2/21/12 cj. Minor fee update cdl to wsdl lh 5/10/13. Checked info 2/12/14 cj. no changes 3/15 lh or 3/21/16 cj. Fees are getting complicated. link to DOL is fine and will just use that for fee information. lh 2/8/17 lh. Info ok 2/15/18 cj. fine 3/28/19 lh

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists (SOC 49-3031)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $17.08 $21.34 $26.58 $31.44 $37.46
Monthly $2,960 $3,698 $4,606 $5,449 $6,492
Yearly $35,520 $44,390 $55,290 $65,390 $77,920
    Bellingham Hourly $14.50 $19.29 $23.20 $28.79 $34.83
Monthly $2,513 $3,343 $4,021 $4,989 $6,036
Yearly $30,177 $40,122 $48,244 $59,876 $72,464
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $22.19 $25.73 $29.82 $35.53 $39.17
Monthly $3,846 $4,459 $5,168 $6,157 $6,788
Yearly $46,151 $53,511 $62,032 $73,907 $81,477
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $10.84 $16.96 $19.71 $27.19 $30.29
Monthly $1,879 $2,939 $3,416 $4,712 $5,249
Yearly $22,533 $35,275 $40,995 $56,537 $62,995
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $15.34 $20.29 $24.11 $28.86 $35.46
Monthly $2,658 $3,516 $4,178 $5,001 $6,145
Yearly $31,897 $42,194 $50,146 $60,018 $73,767
    Longview Hourly $19.42 $25.48 $29.38 $33.95 $37.57
Monthly $3,365 $4,416 $5,092 $5,884 $6,511
Yearly $40,388 $53,012 $61,119 $70,621 $78,145
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $16.34 $21.32 $26.22 $29.14 $31.34
Monthly $2,832 $3,695 $4,544 $5,050 $5,431
Yearly $33,982 $44,340 $54,540 $60,624 $65,176
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $16.84 $19.13 $25.96 $28.83 $31.87
Monthly $2,918 $3,315 $4,499 $4,996 $5,523
Yearly $35,045 $39,801 $54,000 $59,967 $66,290
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.68 $23.75 $29.06 $35.00 $39.58
Monthly $3,237 $4,116 $5,036 $6,066 $6,859
Yearly $38,841 $49,410 $60,438 $72,796 $82,326
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $14.78 $19.62 $24.02 $27.89 $30.11
Monthly $2,561 $3,400 $4,163 $4,833 $5,218
Yearly $30,744 $40,805 $49,950 $57,999 $62,633
    Vancouver Hourly $18.55 $21.93 $26.56 $30.94 $36.13
Monthly $3,215 $3,800 $4,603 $5,362 $6,261
Yearly $38,566 $45,623 $55,240 $64,374 $75,144
    Wenatchee Hourly $20.63 $22.85 $25.96 $28.98 $39.19
Monthly $3,575 $3,960 $4,499 $5,022 $6,792
Yearly $42,918 $47,530 $53,993 $60,277 $81,521
    Yakima Hourly $14.09 $17.87 $22.24 $25.96 $30.09
Monthly $2,442 $3,097 $3,854 $4,499 $5,215
Yearly $29,313 $37,170 $46,268 $53,992 $62,602
United States Hourly $15.00 $18.13 $22.76 $28.47 $34.70
Monthly $2,600 $3,142 $3,944 $4,934 $6,014
Yearly $31,200 $37,710 $47,350 $59,210 $72,180

Wages vary by workers' level of responsibility and education. Beginners usually earn 50 to 75 percent less than what skilled workers earn. Mechanics who work evenings, nights, and weekends are paid more for working odd hours. Mechanics who work for government agencies often earn more than those who work for schools or trucking and courier services.

Many bus and truck mechanics are members of a union. Union members are usually paid more than non-union members.

Most full-time bus and truck mechanics receive benefits. Common benefits include health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation. Some employers may also provide uniforms, money for tools, or pay for additional training.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists (SOC 49-3031)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 7,079 11.1% 16.1% 814
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 306 12.7% 13.4% 36
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 278 11.9% 8.6% 32
    Benton and Franklin Counties 205 9.3% 15.0% 22
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 168 7.7% 11.9% 18
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 607 9.1% 15.2% 67
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 536 12.9% 14.1% 64
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 412 13.6% 14.6% 49
    King County 2,352 10.5% 19.6% 266
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 361 12.2% 13.8% 42
    Pierce County 820 12.9% 15.2% 98
    Snohomish County 359 12.5% 12.4% 43
    Spokane County 523 12.2% 13.9% 62
United States 285,300 4.8% 5.2% 28,400

National employment

Almost every area of the country needs mechanics. However, many of the companies that hire mechanics, such as bus lines and trucking companies, are located in larger cities.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow about as fast as average. Job growth is closely tied to the trucking and freight industry. The increased use of diesel trucks will increase the number of jobs for diesel mechanics. Demand for bus and truck mechanics may also be increased due to environmental regulations. Mechanics will be needed to retrofit and modernize existing vehicles.

Job opportunities are good for those who have attended formal training programs. Those who have not attended these programs may have tougher competition for entry-level jobs.

Other resources

Association of Diesel Specialists (external link)
7250 Heritage Village Plaza, Suite 201
Gainesville, VA 20155
Automotive Service Association (external link)
8209 Mid Cities Boulevard
North Richland Hills, TX 76182
Automotive Service Association Northwest (external link)
7403 Lakewood Drive West, Suite 7
Lakewood, WA 98499
International Union of Operating Engineers (external link)
1125 - 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster