What Does a Heavy Equipment Mechanic Do?
If you aren’t afraid of a little grease and you like the idea of getting your hands on some powerful equipment, a heavy equipment mechanic job could be a great fit.
Also known as heavy-duty equipment mechanics or heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, these specialists inspect, maintain and repair machinery such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, excavators and other equipment.
They repair diesel- and gas-powered engines, hydraulic systems and other key components of heavy machinery to keep them operating safely.
Mechanics keep vital machines running smoothly, so they are in demand in many industries, including construction, farming, mining and rail transport.
If you’re mechanically inclined and are interested in a stable career, keep reading to learn more.
- Inspect heavy equipment
- Diagnose problems, often using computerized tools
- Repair or replace defective parts using hand tools and power tools
- Test equipment that has been repaired and make adjustments
- Clean, lubricate and perform other routine maintenance work
- Disassemble and reassemble equipment
- Consult equipment operating manuals and blueprints
- Travel to worksites to repair heavy equipment
- Maintain equipment repair logs
How To Become a Heavy Equipment Mechanic: FAQs
What training and education do I need?
Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. Entry-level workers receive on-the-job training.
Employers often look for postsecondary specialization in diesel technology, heavy equipment mechanics or small engine repair. Technical schools and community colleges offer certificate programs that cover diagnostics, electronics as well as hands-on training. Certificate programs typically last from 12 months to two years. An associate degree in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics will take two years.
Some companies and trade unions offer internships, so you can learn while you earn. (Jump at an internship opportunity if you see one.) Most companies offer some form of on-the-job training for entry-level mechanics to get familiar with the company’s machines. The length of training to become fully qualified varies.
Military experience in heavy duty machine repair may also be beneficial.
Equipment manufacturers also offer specialized training, which allows mechanics to learn new technology or how to fix specific equipment. In this line of work, it pays to invest the time in continuing education because the equipment and the technology is always improving. (Besides, many employers will cover this expense and give you the time away from work to learn new skills.)
What other qualifications do I need?
You will need a driver’s license. Certification isn’t typically required, but it may be worth the effort because employers will know you’re qualified and willing to learn new things. Certifications vary and may show your ability to fix certain types of machines or expertise in specific repair techniques.
Where do heavy equipment mechanics work?
Because they work on such big machines, these specialized technicians often do field service, meaning they travel to a jobsite. They also work in repair shops. A heavy mechanic job is typicallyt full-time with the opportunity to earn overtime.
Is there a demand for heavy duty equipment mechanics?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mechanics can expect to see plenty of job openings. Employment is projected to grow 11% between 2020 and 2030.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful candidates tend to share these traits:
- Mechanically inclined and understand engine components and systems
- Good eye-hand coordination and dexterity
- Excellent troubleshooting skills