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How Can I Become a Heavy Equipment Mechanic?

An aspiring heavy equipment mechanic can train on the job, through manufacturer programs or at vocational schools and community colleges. Read on to learn more about the training and education you'll need to work as a heavy equipment mechanic.

On-the-Job Training for Heavy Equipment Mechanics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some employers do not require heavy equipment mechanics to hold a degree or certificate (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that even entry-level employees can learn how to repair and service heavy equipment and diesel engines through training that occurs on the job. Once these workers learn to make simple repairs, they can advance to more complex tasks, such as electrical work. Once they've worked for three or more years in the field, many heavy equipment mechanics have attained the necessary qualifications for further employment and advancement.

Important Facts About Heavy Equipment Mechanics

Median Salary (2019) $51,590 (heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians)
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 0% (heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians)
Similar Occupations Automotive service technicians and mechanics, small engine mechanics, diesel service technicians and mechanics, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians
Key Skills Physical strength, troubleshooting, organization, mechanical

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Heavy Equipment Mechanic Training Offered by Manufacturers

Some manufacturers of heavy equipment conduct training sessions for entry-level heavy equipment mechanics, reports the BLS. Employers may send new workers to these short, rigorous training sessions. Such training programs often last about one week and focus on how to repair the equipment, such as crawler-loaders, produced by a specific manufacturer. In these training sessions, aspiring heavy equipment mechanics can expect to learn about the following topics:

  • Transmissions
  • Electrical systems
  • Diesel engines
  • Axles
  • Equipment types
  • New technology

Heavy Equipment Mechanic Training Offered by Colleges

According to O*Net OnLine, an informational occupation database, heavy equipment mechanics must know how to repair, maintain, operate and inspect equipment and mechanical components (www.onetonline.org). Many of those interested in pursuing a heavy equipment mechanic career attend vocational schools and community colleges to learn these skills. These students often enroll in diesel technology programs or other specialized heavy equipment programs.

According to the BLS, aspiring heavy equipment mechanics who attend such programs have an advantage over those who opt for on-the-job training. Those who earn a certificate or associate degree typically advance to higher positions faster than those with informal education. These programs, which typically take one to two years to complete, teach the following skills:

  • Diagnostic procedures
  • Basics of hydraulics and electronics
  • Repair of heavy vehicles