Jobs in Heavy Equipment Maintenance and Safety: Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in heavy equipment maintenance and safety. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Diesel Mechanics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Career Options in Heavy Equipment Maintenance and Safety?

There are multiple careers to pursue in the field of heavy equipment maintenance and safety. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians conduct every day maintenance for heavy equipment, as well as diagnose and repair malfunctions. This involves conducting diagnostic tests, disassembling and replacing defective parts. They often travel to work sites, since it it easy to move shop trucks than heavy equipment. It is important for them to keep maintenance and repair logs for the equipment they work on, so that they may reference them on future jobs.

These professionals may be separated into three different areas; heavy equipment mechanics, farm equipment mechanics and rail car repairers. Heavy equipment mechanics typically work with conduction equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes and excavators. Farm equipment mechanics work on farm tractors, harvesters and other agricultural equipment. Rail car repairers work on locomotives, subway cars and other railroad vehicles and cars.

Take a look at the following table of information to learn about a few of these positions.

Heavy Equipment Mechanic Farm Equipment Mechanic Rail Car Repairer
Education Required Certificate or associate's degree Certificate or associate's degree Certificate or associate's degree
Training Required On-the-job training On-the-job training On-the-job training
Key Responsibilities Maintain equipment used for construction and other industries Maintain tractors, mowers and irrigation equipment Service public transportation such as trains and subways
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%* 7%* 3%*
Median Salary (2015) $48,770* $37,050* $55,570*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are Some Jobs in Heavy Equipment Maintenance and Safety?

If you'd like to become a heavy equipment maintenance mechanic, there are several areas of specialization. For instance, as a farm equipment mechanic you might repair and service tractors, mowing machines and irrigation equipment. Rail car mechanics and technicians are responsible for the maintenance of streetcars, trains and subway cars. Public transit authorities and railroad companies often employ these mechanics.

If you'd prefer to work with construction companies or equipment wholesalers, you could become a mobile heavy equipment mechanic. The job entails making repairs to vehicles such as excavators, cranes and bulldozers. If employed by the federal government, you might even maintain military tanks and armored trucks.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

Employers typically determine the level of education required for the heavy equipment maintenance field; however, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the industry often seeks candidates who have completed a formal training program ( Students can find certificate and associate's degree programs in heavy equipment repair and diesel technology at community colleges and vocational schools. Certificate programs may last between one and two years, while earning an associate's degree could take two years to complete.

Heavy equipment repair certificate programs may offer courses in heavy equipment electronics, hydraulic systems, shop practices and engine components. If you choose an associate's degree in diesel heavy equipment technology, you might take classes such as diesel fuel systems, truck maintenance and manufacturing technology. Because safety will be an important aspect of your job, the educational program you choose likely includes courses such as heavy equipment safety, first aid procedures and an introduction to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

What Are the Opportunities for Advancement?

As a heavy equipment maintenance technician with at least three years of experience, you might become a service manager or repair shop supervisor. A field service position is an option if you have a commercial driver's license and no driving violations. Field service mechanics drive to the location of heavy machinery that is in need of repair. The completion of a formal educational training program, and a certificate in a specialized area such as transmission or electrical systems repair, could increase your advancement opportunities.

How Much Could I Earn?

The BLS estimated that in 2015, approximately 5% of heavy equipment mechanics and technicians worked for wholesalers. According to the BLS, mobile heavy equipment mechanics who worked for machinery and equipment wholesalers earned a mean salary of $49,480 as of May 2015, while farm equipment mechanics in the same industry grossed a mean salary of $38,940. Rail car repairers in the rail transportation industry earned a mean wage of $57,620 in the same year, per the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Diesel service technicians and mechanics diagnose mechanical issues in diesel engines often used to power heavy equipment. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers work on factory equipment and other installed industrial machinery. This includes the equipment use to convey materials, construct products and package products. Employees in both of these careers may get by with just a high-school diploma or an equivalent.

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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