Heavy Equipment Mechanic: Training and Career Information

Heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain heavy vehicles, mobile equipment and their components. Some of the vehicles that heavy equipment mechanics may work on include trucks, tractors, bulldozers, cranes, forklifts and railcars.

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Heavy Equipment Mechanic Training Information

Although on-the-job training may be sufficient, formal training programs are an option for those who would like to become heavy equipment mechanics. Community colleges and vocational schools may offer diesel technology programs that cater to students who aspire to become heavy equipment mechanics. Programs are 1-2 years long and result in either a certificate or an associate's degree. Students enrolled in these programs learn the basics of diagnostic techniques, hydraulics and electronics. Completing a formal training program may allow heavy equipment mechanics to advance to the journey level sooner than their peers who have undergone on-the-job training.

Those who decide to learn their trade through on-the-job training may need to train for 3-4 years before they are considered to be fully qualified. Trainees gradually work their way up. They perform routine service tasks and minor repairs after a few months of training, and gradually move on to more advanced jobs. Trainees may also be required to attend week-long sessions hosted by heavy equipment manufacturers. During these sessions, manufacturers instruct trainees in the repair of their equipment. Some manufacturers may offer certification in specific types of repair or for working with specific types of equipment. Earning a certification may allow heavy equipment mechanics to advance their careers or take on more responsibilities.

Heavy Equipment Mechanic Career Information

Mechanics who choose this specialization perform routine maintenance checks on heavy vehicles and mobile equipment. They diagnose and repair problems found in engines, transmissions, electronic controls, brake systems, electrical systems and fuel pumps. They help to ensure that vehicles are safe and perform well. Heavy equipment mechanics may use tools, such as torches, saws and welders to fabricate or modify equipment parts. They also perform routine adjustments to fluid levels, brakes, hoses, belts, tires and clutches, as well as change oil and filters. Additional job duties may include maintaining service logs and road testing vehicles.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician employment would grow 16 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is about average for all professions combined (www.bls.gov). Formal training will give mechanics an edge in the job market. Mobile heavy equipment mechanics (except engines) earned a median annual salary of $46,050 in May of 2012, according to the BLS.

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