Agricultural Mechanic

Research what it takes to become an agricultural mechanic. Learn about job duties, career outlook, and possible salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Diesel Mechanics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Agricultural Mechanic?

As an agricultural or farm equipment mechanic, you would have the training to fix and maintain machines like tractors and combines. Using your knowledge of the equipment and mechanics of the trade, you would be able to analyze and repair various issues with machines and vehicles commonly found on a farm. Your skills will likely give you the ability to fix smaller scale lawn equipment, as well. In the event you can't personally fix, maintain, or remake a piece of equipment, you will also have the knowledge to advise your clients on what new equipment to buy based on their needs.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required High school diploma, certificate or associate's degree
Training Required On-the-job training is common
Education Field of Study Servicing farm machinery; adjusting and calibrating equipment; fuel systems; diesel electrical systems
Key Responsibilities Take apart and determine causes of farm machinery malfunction; advise clients on maintenance and problems needing fixing
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%* (farm equipment mechanics)
Median Annual Salary (2015) $37,050* (farm equipment mechanics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Does an Agricultural Mechanic Need?

According to O*Net, most agricultural mechanics - also known as farm equipment mechanics - have only a high school diploma, although some individuals in this position do have associate's degrees (online.onetcenter.org). Certificate and associate's degree programs are available in agricultural mechanics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes agricultural mechanics in its listing for heavy equipment mechanics and states that many people receive on-the-job training in this position (www.bls.gov). However, those with postsecondary training in farm equipment repair may have a competitive advantage in the job market.

Certificate programs can be completed in about a year, while associate's degree programs in agricultural mechanics take two years to complete. The curriculum includes the study of how machines are used in harvesting, tilling, and planting work. You'll also learn how to maintain, adjust, and repair farm machinery and equipment. Other topics include diesel fuel systems, hydraulics, air conditioning, electronics, and diesel electrical systems. An internship may be required so you can learn the job requirements of an agricultural mechanic while gaining hands-on experience working with tools and clients.

What Might My Duties Be?

An agricultural mechanic is responsible for ensuring that farm machines work and remain in good repair. This includes maintaining and calibrating a variety of farm machinery and smaller equipment for lawn and garden use, such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, and snow blowers. As a farm equipment mechanic, you would dismantle and examine broken down machinery, diagnose the problem, and repair it. You would also advise clients of problems and set up a plan to fix them in addition to arranging new equipment for delivery.

What Is the Career Outlook and Salary?

The BLS projected that job opportunity for farm equipment mechanics were expected to grow about 7% from 2014-2024. Most earned between $11.48 and $27.15 per hour ($23,870 to $56,470 annually) in 2015, or a median salary of $37,050. States that offer the best pay for agricultural mechanics are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Mexico, and Kansas, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Automotive mechanics fix and maintain cars and light trucks in the same way agricultural mechanics repair farm machinery. They use their knowledge of engines and car parts to accurately diagnose different problems with motor vehicles to repair and replace what's broken. They typically need a high school diploma. Other types of heavy machinery-specialized mechanics, such as those who work on construction equipment (bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, etc.) and rail car mechanics, require similar education. They specialize in different kinds of equipment, learning the intricacies of construction equipment used for mining and demolition and locomotive operations and repair, respectively.

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