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Heavy Equipment Mechanic


It requires many people and a lot of time to build a safe, strong, and attractive building. An important part of the construction involves machines like bulldozers, cranes, and large trucks. If these machines break down, the services of a heavy equipment mechanic are required.

Heavy equipment mechanics are highly-trained experts who know just how to bring any large piece of equipment back to life. They work for private and public bus lines, trucking companies, farm equipment manufacturers, construction crews, and in their own repair shops, diagnosing, repairing and servicing the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems and components of these heavy vehicles and equipment. They meet with the driver of the vehicle or the machine operator and try to determine the mechanical problem. They ask questions and physically inspect the vehicle or piece of equipment to determine the nature and extent of damage or malfunction. Heavy equipment mechanics also perform routine maintenance such as cleaning and oiling machine or vehicle parts.

As well as working with hand tools, these mechanics work with computer equipment. Hand-held computers help them diagnose mechanical and component problems and make repairs. They use ohmmeters, voltmeters and ammeters for diagnosing electrical equipment, and tachometers for diagnosing engine malfunctions.
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  Average Earnings  
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Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Heavy equpiment mechanics require good hearing, eyesight and manual dexterity, as well as mechanical aptitude. Successful heavy equipment mechanics have an interest in keeping up-to-date with changing technology. They enjoy precise work that is varied and challenging and are analytical, fit, and methodical in their approach to each task undertaken.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Check bulldozers, cranes, graders and other heavy construction, agricultural, logging and mining equipment for proper performance and inspect equipment to detect faults and malfunctions
  • Diagnose faults or malfunctions using computerized and other testing equipment to determine extent of repair required
  • Adjust equipment and repair or replace defective parts, components or systems, using hand and power tools
  • Test repaired equipment for proper performance and to ensure that work meets manufacturers' specifications
  • Clean, lubricate and perform other routine maintenance work on equipment
  • Service attachments and working tools such as harvesting and tillage equipment, blades, plows, winches and side booms
  • May perform repair work on heavy trucks
  • May attach components and adjust new farm equipment
  • A heavy equipment mechanic has a lot of tasks to look after. Aside from repairing and maintaining heavy equipment, they must communicate clearly to the client about the problems and adjustments made. Heavy equipment mechanics mainly work indoors in workshops which are usually noisy and dirty, exposed to exhaust and power tools. Most mechanics work a 40-hour, five-day week, however, they may have to work some evenings, weekends or holidays, depending on the employer. When a piece of equipment is too heavy or damaged to move, the mechanic gets to travel to the site to diagnose the problem and make repairs.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Heavy equipment mechanics work in repair shops, specialty repair shops, service stations, municipalities (city bus line), private bus companies, rail transport companies, construction companies, rental agencies, trucking companies, school bus lines, construction equipment distributor firms, federal governments, or other organizations operating and maintaining heavy machinery and equipment fleets. They also work for any companies that rent or service bulldozers, cranes, graders and other heavy equipment for construction, forestry, farming, mining, oil and gas, material handling, landscaping, land clearing and other activities.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Heavy equipment mechanics may advance to service manager or shop foreperson positions. They may also choose to open their own garages, service stations or automobile performance shops.

  Educational Paths  
Heavy equipment mechanics receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a heavy equipment mechanic, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the heavy equipment mechanic a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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