Why We Love It
$50,080Potential Avg. Salary
5.3%Job Growth Rate
Growing DemandJob Outlook
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Heavy equipment mechanics repair, inspect and maintain vehicles and machinery used in industries such as farming, transportation and construction.
What is a Heavy Equipment Mechanic?
Heavy equipment mechanics must be physically strong, dexterous individuals. They are organized and able to multi-task, a necessity in a field that has numerous and varied responsibilities. Job satisfaction tends to rate well, with above-average compensation compared to the national median for all occupations, and despite the physically rigorous occupation, increased chance of injury and frequency of overtime, nights and weekends.
In the course of their jobs, heavy equipment mechanics typically fulfill the following responsibilities:
- Perform scheduled maintenance on vehicles and machinery, such as calibrating and cleaning instruments and gauges
- Monitor equipment and quickly and accurately identify and diagnose malfunctions
- Repair and replace worn or defective parts, such as belts, gears, pistons and bearings
- Test and overhaul major components, including electrical systems, engines and hydraulics
- Visit jobsites to repair larger machinery, such as winches and cranes
Construction, railway transport, industrial activities and all manner of infrastructure maintenance and repair require mobile equipment and heavy vehicles to function at peak efficiency. Heavy equipment mechanics use a variety of tools and equipment such as bulldozers, winches, tractors and cranes to dig dirt, pave roads, haul materials and lift beams. They are able to switch from project to project with ease, despite the array of equipment needed to accomplish each task, equally comfortable using a hammer or a wrecking ball.
Considerable time is spent outdoors and long hours driving are not uncommon. While specializations (more on this below) dictate a large measure of the particulars of the job, heavy equipment mechanics will necessarily move from physical labor to technical expertise within each job to accomplish the task at hand. Operating diagnostic equipment to uncover the source of a malfunction is as integral a part of the job as handling greasy and dirty equipment. Although many service technicians work indoors in repair shops, travel to worksites in order to implement repairs is not atypical given the difficulty and cost of transporting certain pieces of equipment to a shop.
Heavy equipment mechanic is a broad, overall term that encompasses the responsibilities listed above, however there are numerous specific roles available within the field.
- Mobile equipment service technicians repair and maintain transmissions, electrical systems, railway equipment and engines. Their focus is also on safety, verifying the optimal performance of brakes, fuel lines and various systems.
- Service technicians identify problems in machinery and make adjustments or repairs, utilizing a variety of power tools such a welding equipment, kneumatic wrenches and lathes and hand tools such as pliers, wrenches and screwdrivers.
- Farm equipment mechanics service farm equipment, such as threshers, harvesters and tractors.
- Mobile heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain bulldozers, graders and cranes, to name but a few heavy-duty machines. Most are emplyed by mining or construction companies.
- Rail car repairers primarily service trains and subway cars. They usually work for public and private transit companies and rail car manufacturers.
TYPICAL WORK SCHEDULE
The majority of heavy equipment mechanics jobs are typically executed during a traditional Monday through Friday schedule that entails 40 hours. In certain situations, as when there is a deadline to fulfill customers’ needs, these pros can be expected to pick up extra shifts and work overtime.
Certain specialties, such as farm equipment mechanics, will stagger their days/hours during the busy planting and harvest seasons, working less in the wintertime.
A mechanic may also choose to start their own business or work independently, as this allows them to work on their own schedules.
Employment of heavy equipment mechanics is expected to increase at a comparable rate to all occupations in the next 10 years. Should more jobs return to the US as expected and more factories open up, there will be a greater need for skilled technicians who can keep machinery in working order.
We are currently seeing a high demand for highly-skilled farm equipment mechanics as more and more agricultural products are built to help feed a growing population.
The growing population will also contribute to the construction of more roads, bridges, houses and office buildings, creating a steady demand for mobile heavy equipment mechanics.
Railcars will be needed to transport heavy equipment, which will cause an increase in demand for rail car mechanics. In general, a majority of job openings will occur in sectors that sell, rent or lease heavy mobile equipment, as these sectors will need to employ a large group of service technicians.
The following are some of the most common employers of heavy equipment mechanics:
Beyond engine maintenance, heavy equipment mechanics may be needed to perform inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Heavy equipment mechanics are needed to repair, maintain and overhaul farm machinery. From harvesters to tractors and dairy irrigation systems, these machines are very expensive, and farmers need to ensure they work for as long as possible.
If you live near a large body of water, chances are you often see large ships and yachts in a marina. Whether owned by private owners, companies or the government, these large vessels have engines and moving parts that must constantly be maintained.
Our country’s major highways and byways must be maintained and new roads built. The big equipment like cranes must be reliable at all times. One piece of equipment breaking down could bring an entire large project to a grinding halt.
How To Become a Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Most positions for heavy equipment mechanics require a high school diploma. High school classes in ‘shop’, automotive repair, physics and welding provide an excellent starting point for a heavy equipment mechanic’s career.
Postsecondary institutions and vocation training covers increasingly important skills such as diagnostic techniques and electrical systems and are highly sought by employers since it means less training will be needed upon hiring. Certification is not a requirement to employment, but it oftentimes demands higher pay. Many engage in such programs and continue on to an associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete. Since vehicle and equipment technology is becoming more and more sophisticated, some employers prefer to hire those who have a degree or have completed training programs at a postsecondary institution.
Entry-level applicants with little to no experience with heavy vehicle maintenance often undergo on the job training for several months, performing simple repairs before moving on to more complex, challenging work.
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Salary Data
We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Anual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Heavy Equipment Mechanic salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Heavy Equipment Mechanic's can make an average annual salary of $50,080, or $24 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $39,100 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#387 Nationally for All Careers
Programs and Degrees
Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Heavy Equipment Mechanic. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.
Highest Education Among Heavy Equipment Mechanics
- 0% Doctorate
- 0.6% Masters
- 3.1% Bachelors
- 10.9% Associates
- 26.1% College
- 45.3% High School
- 14% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs124,700
2024 Est. Jobs131,300
Job Growth Rate5.3%
Est. New Jobs6,600
How does Heavy Equipment Mechanic job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 6,600 jobs for a total of 131,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 5.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#419 Nationally for All Careers
What Companies Employ The Most Heavy Equipment Mechanics
|Industry||Current Jobs||New Jobs Needed||% Increase|
|Commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing||9,800||1,200||1%|
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||8,400||400||1%|
|Other specialty trade contractors||7,200||700||1%|