How Can I Find Jobs Working with Industrial Heavy Machinery?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in industrial heavy machinery. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Jobs Working with Industrial Heavy Machinery?

Of the various occupations available in industrial heavy machinery, you might be a farm equipment mechanic, a rail car repairer or a mobile heavy vehicle and equipment mechanic. These professionals perform routine maintenance on the machines they work with, such as cleaning and lubrication. In the event of machine malfunction, they conduct inspections to identify the source of the problem. From there, they design and implement a solution strategy, and they record what they did in a log.

The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Farm Equipment Mechanic Rail Car Repairer Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Education Required High school diploma at minimum; formal training recommended High school diploma at minimum; formal training recommended High school diploma at minimum; formal training recommended
Education Field of Study Diesel mechanics, agricultural machinery repair, welding Diesel mechanics and rail car operations and repair, welding Diesel mechanics, heavy equipment operation and repair, welding
Key Responsibilities Diagnose mechanical-related problems and repair them; perform maintenance Diagnose mechanical-related problems and repair them; perform maintenance Diagnose mechanical-related problems and repair them; perform maintenance
Job Growth (2014-24) 7%* 3%* 5% for mobile heavy equipment mechanics (except engines)*
Average Salary (2015) $38,510*$54,130* $50,080 for mobile heavy equipment mechanics (except engines)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education is Necessary to Work with Industrial Heavy Machinery?

To work in industrial heavy machinery, it is recommended that you enroll in a postsecondary heavy equipment mechanic or diesel mechanics program. Many programs are available through community colleges and technical schools, which offer both certificates and associate's degrees. Most programs can be completed in about two years. In some cases, opportunities may also exist to obtain knowledge through on-the-job training. Keep in mind that formal training may allow you to advance your career more quickly.

A heavy duty equipment repair program teaches you subjects such as electrical theory, engine applications, hydraulic theory and preventive maintenance. Programs in diesel mechanics include coursework in fuel systems, technical mathematics, diesel multimedia learning systems and air brake systems. Opportunities are also available for you to learn the basics of shop operation, welding techniques and customer relations skills.

What Job Responsibilities Will I Have?

Whether you work with agricultural, construction or rail transportation equipment, you service the diesel engines, axles, electrical systems or other components used in heavy equipment. Some of your responsibilities include diagnosing equipment malfunctions and performance problems, and repairing broken parts. You are also required to take machinery apart in order to facilitate its repair and reassemble it afterward.

You perform routine maintenance procedures such as lubricating and cleaning to keep equipment in good working condition. By using hand-held testing computers, you also make necessary adjustments to machinery. Because of the technical nature of your job, you must be capable of reading and fully comprehending the blueprints, technical drawings and repair manuals.

What is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for all types of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics will increase by 5 percent from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). There was expected to be a greater number of jobs for mechanics and technicians with formal training and education. Jobs for farm mechanics were expected to expand by 7 percent, and heavy mobile equipment mechanics should see 5 percent growth. However, employment opportunities for all railroad occupations, including rail car mechanics, is expected to grow by just 3 percent during this same time frame.

How Much Money Could I Earn?

The BLS reports that farm equipment mechanics earned average annual wages of $38,510 in 2015. Mobile heavy equipment mechanics (except engines) earned approximately $50,080 during the same year, and rail car repairers earned about $54,130 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than working as a technician, you could consider becoming a heavy machine operator. For example, working as a crane operator, you could lift and move large objects on a construction site, or you could use the crane to load and unload cargo from ships at major parts. Another option is to become a dredge operator, which involves running a machine that excavates waterways. A third possibility is a position as an industrial tractor operator, where you would drive vehicles that carry heavy objects around factories, warehouses and other industrial facilities. For any of these jobs, you need to have at least a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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