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Become A Heavy Equipment Technician

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Working As A Heavy Equipment Technician

  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • $47,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Heavy Equipment Technician 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 Heavy Equipment Technician

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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Heavy Equipment Technician Career Paths

Heavy Equipment Technician
Technician Team Leader Manager
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Diesel Technician Shop Foreman Service Manager
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Diesel Technician Shop Foreman
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Diesel Technician Shop Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Building Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Technician Mechanic Electrician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Technician Diesel Mechanic Sergeant
Senior Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Truck Technician Maintenance Technician Hvac Technician
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Hvac Technician Maintenance Lead Technician
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Aircraft Mechanic Lead Mechanic
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Equipment Technician Electronics Technician Maintenance Electrician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Equipment Technician Engineering Technician Machinist Mate
Marine Mechanic
5 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Operation Supervisor Fleet Manager
Parts Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Heavy Duty Mechanic Fleet Mechanic Senior Mechanic
Senior Maintenance Mechanic
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Heavy Equipment Technician?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Heavy Repairer 5.0 years
Equipment Mechanic 4.6 years
Truck Technician 3.5 years
Service Mechanic 3.4 years
Fleet Technician 3.3 years
Shop Mechanic 3.1 years
Diesel Technician 3.0 years
Shop Technician 2.5 years
Top Careers Before Heavy Equipment Technician
Technician 11.0%
Mechanic 10.2%
Welder 3.3%
Supervisor 2.0%
Top Careers After Heavy Equipment Technician
Technician 9.0%
Mechanic 5.5%
Supervisor 2.3%

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Top Skills for A Heavy Equipment Technician

  1. Fleet Vehicles
  2. Parts Inventory
  3. Diesel Engines
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform preventive and corrective maintenance on Motor Transport Division fleet vehicles.
  • Control parts inventory, maintain shop equipment, perform road side service, and repair concrete plant loading systems.
  • Attended Training Class of Basic Diesel engines, hydraulics, electrical, and air conditioning.
  • Repaired or replaced hydraulic systems components.
  • Provided diagnostics and preventative maintenance on various types of heavy equipment.

Heavy Equipment Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

88.7%

Unknown

8.9%

Female

2.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

42.9%

Carrier

28.6%

Cherokee

7.1%

Bosnian

7.1%

Albanian

7.1%

Croatian

7.1%
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Heavy Equipment Technician Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

37.5%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

8.8%

Ferris State University

4.4%

Central Texas College

3.7%

University of Northwestern Ohio

3.7%

University of Phoenix

3.7%

Wake Technical Community College

3.7%

Lincoln College of Technology - Denver

2.9%

Community College of the Air Force

2.9%

Arizona Automotive Institute

2.9%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

2.9%

Durham Technical Community College

2.9%

South Georgia Technical College

2.9%

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology - Okmulgee

2.9%

The Academy

2.9%

St. Philip's College

2.2%

San Joaquin Delta College

2.2%

Alexandria Technical College

2.2%

College of Southern Nevada

2.2%

Glendale Community College

2.2%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

41.7%

Business

9.6%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

7.5%

Industrial Technology

4.8%

General Studies

3.6%

Electrical Engineering

3.6%

Heating And Air Conditioning

3.6%

Management

3.4%

Education

3.1%

Mechanical Engineering

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.9%

Precision Metal Working

1.9%

Criminal Justice

1.9%

Drafting And Design

1.7%

Aviation

1.4%

Computer Science

1.2%

Engineering

1.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.2%

Medical Technician

1.2%
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Degrees

Other

45.4%

Associate

22.6%

Certificate

12.7%

Bachelors

10.1%

Diploma

6.6%

Masters

2.4%

License

0.2%
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