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Become A Carman

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Working As A Carman

  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Carman Do

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries.

Duties

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians typically do the following:

  • Consult equipment operating manuals, blueprints, and drawings
  • Perform scheduled maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating parts
  • Diagnose and identify malfunctions, using computerized tools and equipment
  • Inspect, repair, and replace defective or worn parts, such as bearings, pistons, and gears
  • Overhaul and test major components, such as engines, hydraulics, and electrical systems
  • Disassemble and reassemble heavy equipment and components
  • Travel to worksites to repair large equipment, such as cranes
  • Maintain logs of equipment condition and work performed

Heavy vehicles and mobile equipment are critical to many industrial activities, including construction and railroad transportation. Various types of equipment, such as tractors, cranes, and bulldozers, are used to haul materials, till land, lift beams, and dig earth to pave the way for development and construction.

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians repair and maintain engines, hydraulic systems, transmissions, and electrical systems of agricultural, industrial, construction, and rail equipment. They ensure the performance and safety of fuel lines, brakes, and other systems.

Service technicians use diagnostic computers and equipment to identify problems and make adjustments or repairs. For example, they may use an oscilloscope to observe the signals produced by electronic components. Service technicians also use many different power and machine tools, including pneumatic wrenches, lathes, and welding equipment. A pneumatic tool, such as an impact wrench, is an air tool powered by compressed air.

Service technicians also use many different hand tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches, to work on small parts and in hard-to-reach areas. They generally purchase these tools over the course of their careers, often investing thousands of dollars in their inventory.

After identifying malfunctioning equipment, service technicians repair, replace, and recalibrate components such as hydraulic pumps and spark plugs. This may involve disassembling and reassembling major equipment or making adjustments through an onboard computer program.

Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians service and repair farm equipment, such as tractors and harvesters. They also work on smaller consumer-grade lawn and garden tractors. Most work for dealer repair shops, where farmers increasingly send their equipment for maintenance.   

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain construction and surface mining equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, and excavators. Most work for governments, equipment rental and leasing shops, and large construction and mining companies.

Rail car repairers specialize in servicing railroad locomotives, subway cars, and other rolling stock. They usually work for railroad, public and private transit companies, and rail car manufacturers.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians and mechanics who primarily work on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

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How To Become A Carman

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because vehicle and equipment technology is increasingly sophisticated and computerized, some employers prefer to hire service technicians who have completed a formal training program at a postsecondary institution.

Education

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a high school diploma or equivalent. High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, physics, and welding provide a strong foundation for a service technician’s career. However, high school graduates often need further training to become fully qualified.

Completing a vocational or other postsecondary training program in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics is increasingly considered the best preparation for some entry-level positions. Offered by vocational schools and community colleges, these programs cover the basics of diagnostic techniques, electronics, and other related subjects. Most programs last 1 to 2 years and lead to certificates of completion. Other programs, which lead to associate’s degrees, generally take 2 years to complete.

Training

Entry-level workers with no formal background in heavy vehicle repair often receive a few months of on-the-job training before they begin performing routine service tasks and making minor repairs. Trainees advance to more complex work as they show competence, and usually become fully qualified after 3 to 4 years of work.

Service technicians who have completed a postsecondary training program in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics require less training.

Many employers send new service technicians to training sessions conducted by equipment manufacturers. Training sessions may focus on particular components and technologies or types of equipment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some manufacturers offer certification in specific repair methods or equipment. Although not required, certification can demonstrate a service technician’s competence and usually commands higher pay.

Important Qualities

Dexterity. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must perform many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, with a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They must often disassemble major parts for repairs and be able to reassemble them.

Organizational skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must maintain accurate service records and parts inventories.

Physical strength. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be able to lift and move heavy equipment, tools, and parts without risking injury.

Troubleshooting skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be familiar with diagnostic equipment, which can help find the source of malfunctions when they are difficult to identify.

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Carman Typical Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Car Repairman 4.4 years
Carman 4.0 years
Rail Car Repairman 3.5 years
Rail Car Mechanic 3.1 years
Tank Welder 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Carman
Welder 26.8%
Mechanic 6.4%
Driver 4.5%
Foreman 3.8%
Technician 3.6%
Supervisor 3.3%
Owner 2.8%
Conductor 2.8%
Assembler 2.6%
Manager 2.6%
Top Careers After Carman
Welder 28.9%
Driver 6.9%
Operator 4.9%
Mechanic 4.0%
Journeyman 3.7%
Technician 3.1%
Foreman 3.1%
Owner 2.9%
Supervisor 2.9%
Conductor 2.9%

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Top Skills for A Carman

  1. Car Releases
  2. Safety Appliances
  3. Railcar Frames
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Inspect and repair all safety appliances, air brake parts, draft systems, and trucks on rolling stock.
  • Inspected railcar frames and bodies for holes, cracks, and other defects.
  • Inspected and repaired trailer hitches and other lading equipment, also maintaining and lubing all trailer hitches according to AAR regulations.
  • Inspect and repair freight cars as quickly as possible to get the trains to destination on time.
  • Repair damaged and defective cars using power and hand tools, forklifts, jacks and cranes, cutting torches and welders.

Carman Demographics

Gender

Male

88.3%

Unknown

6.2%

Female

5.5%
Ethnicity

White

67.3%

Hispanic or Latino

13.4%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Carman Education

Schools

Texas Christian University

7.4%

University of Phoenix

7.4%

Johnson County Community College

6.4%

Tulsa Welding School

6.4%

Universal Technical Institute

6.4%

Moraine Valley Community College

5.3%

Pueblo Community College

5.3%

Lewis and Clark Community College

4.3%

Owens Community College

4.3%

Kaplan University

4.3%

Hawkeye Community College

4.3%

Amarillo College

4.3%

Bellevue University

4.3%

Southwestern Illinois College

4.3%

Casper College

4.3%

IVY TECH STATE COLLEGE - KOKOMO - Health Sciences

4.3%

The Academy

4.3%

HVAC Technical Institute

4.3%

Illinois Central College

4.3%

Joliet Junior College

4.3%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

33.8%

Automotive Technology

11.0%

Business

10.0%

Criminal Justice

6.0%

Industrial Technology

5.0%

General Studies

4.7%

Electrical Engineering

4.7%

Education

3.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.0%

Computer Science

2.3%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.3%

Management

2.0%

Fire Science And Protection

1.7%

Aviation

1.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.7%

Drafting And Design

1.3%

Kinesiology

1.3%

Nursing

1.3%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.3%

Music

1.3%
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Degrees

Other

47.1%

Certificate

17.9%

Associate

17.6%

Bachelors

10.7%

Diploma

3.1%

Masters

2.9%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.2%
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What Is It Like To Work As A Carman

5.0

25 years as a RailRoad Carman!

May 21, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Carman.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Carman?

Working on my own when necessary, working with fellow Carmen when necessary! As a Carman I worked as a welder, a truck driver, a wrecker driver, a train inspector and many other jobs. RailRoad work can be tough, but it is also very rewarding, good pay, good benefits and a good retirement pension... Show More

What do you NOT like?

As a RailRoad Carmen, you may have to work all kinds of shifts, my first 4 years I worked from 11PM to 7AM with Tuesday and Wednesday off. You may also be required to work overtime. Although as you acquire seniority, you are able to get better assignments... Show More

How Would You Rate Working As a Carman?

Are you working as a Carman? Help us rate Carman as a Career.

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