Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries.

Duties

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians typically do the following:

  • Consult equipment operating manuals, blueprints, and drawings
  • Perform scheduled maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating parts
  • Diagnose and identify malfunctions, using computerized tools and equipment
  • Inspect, repair, and replace defective or worn parts, such as bearings, pistons, and gears
  • Overhaul and test major components, such as engines, hydraulic systems, and electrical systems
  • Disassemble and reassemble heavy equipment and components
  • Travel to worksites to repair large equipment, such as cranes
  • Maintain logs of equipment condition and work performed

Heavy vehicles and mobile equipment are critical to many industrial activities, including construction and railroad transportation. Various types of equipment, such as tractors, cranes, and bulldozers, are used to haul materials, till land, lift beams, and dig earth to pave the way for development and construction.

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians repair and maintain engines, hydraulic systems, transmissions, and electrical systems of agricultural, industrial, construction, and rail equipment. They ensure the performance and safety of fuel lines, brakes, and other systems.

These service technicians use diagnostic computers and equipment to identify problems and make adjustments or repairs. For example, they may use an oscilloscope to observe the signals produced by electronic components. Service technicians also use many different power and machine tools, including pneumatic wrenches, lathes, and welding equipment. A pneumatic tool, such as an impact wrench, is a tool powered by compressed air.

Service technicians also use many different hand tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches, to work on small parts and in hard-to-reach areas. They generally purchase these tools over the course of their careers, often investing thousands of dollars in their inventory.

After identifying malfunctioning equipment, service technicians repair, replace, and recalibrate components such as hydraulic pumps and spark plugs. Doing this may involve disassembling and reassembling major equipment or making adjustments through an onboard computer program.

The following are examples of types of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians:

Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians service and repair farm equipment, such as tractors and harvesters. They also work on smaller consumer-grade lawn and garden tractors. Most work for dealer repair shops, where farmers increasingly send their equipment for maintenance.

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain construction and surface mining equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, and excavators. Most work for governments, equipment rental and leasing shops, and large construction and mining companies.

Rail car repairers specialize in servicing railroad locomotives, subway cars, and other rolling stock. They usually work for railroads, public and private transit companies, and railcar manufacturers.

Mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

Mechanics who work primarily on large trucks and buses are described in the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

Mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles are described in the profile on small engine mechanics.

Is This the Right Career for You?

Not sure how to choose the best career for you? Now, you can predict which career will satisfy you in the long term by taking a scientifically validated career test. Gain the clarity and confidence that comes from understanding your strengths, talents, and preferences, and knowing which path is truly right for you.

Take The Test

 

 

 

 

 

Work Environment

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians held about 220,700 jobs in 2018. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was distributed as follows:

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines                                              150,300
Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 45,400
Rail car repairers 25,100

The largest employers of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians were as follows:

Farm and garden machinery and equipment merchant wholesalers                         11%
Government 9
Heavy and civil engineering construction 7
Rental and leasing services 6

Although many service technicians work indoors in repair shops, some service technicians travel to worksites to make repairs because it is often too expensive to transport heavy or mobile equipment to a shop. Generally, more experienced service technicians specialize in field service. These workers drive trucks that are specially equipped with replacement parts and tools, and they spend considerable time outdoors and often drive long distances.

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians frequently lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy and dirty equipment, and stand or lie in awkward positions.

Work Schedules

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians work full time, and many work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.

Farm equipment mechanics’ work varies by time of the year. During busy planting and harvesting seasons, for example, mechanics often work six or seven 12-hour days per week. In the winter months, however, they may work less than full time.

Education and Training

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because vehicle and equipment technology is increasingly sophisticated and computerized, some employers prefer to hire service technicians who have completed a formal training program at a postsecondary institution.

Education

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a high school diploma or equivalent. High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, physics, and welding provide a strong foundation for a service technician’s career. However, high school graduates often need further training to become fully qualified.

Completing a vocational or other postsecondary training program in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics is increasingly considered the best preparation for some entry-level positions. Offered by vocational schools and community colleges, these programs cover the basics of diagnostic techniques, electronics, and other related subjects. Each program may last 1 to 2 years and lead to a certificate of completion. Other programs, which lead to associate’s degrees, generally take 2 years to complete.

Training

Entry-level workers with no formal background in heavy vehicle repair often receive a few months of on-the-job training before they begin performing routine service tasks and making minor repairs. Trainees advance to more complex work as they show competence, and they usually become fully qualified after 3 to 4 years of work.

Service technicians who have completed a postsecondary training program in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics typically require less on-the-job training.

Many employers send new service technicians to training sessions conducted by equipment manufacturers. Training sessions may focus on particular components and technologies or particular types of equipment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some manufacturers offer certification in specific repair methods or equipment. Although not required, certification can demonstrate a service technician’s competence and usually commands higher pay.

Personality and Interests

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians typically have an interest in the Building and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Dexterity. Many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They must often disassemble major parts for repairs and be able to reassemble them.

Physical strength. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be able to lift and move heavy equipment, tools, and parts without risking injury.

Troubleshooting skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be familiar with diagnostic equipment, which can help find the source of malfunctions when they are difficult to identify.

Pay

The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $51,590 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,170, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,830.

Median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in May 2019 were as follows:

Rail car repairers $56,390
Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines                                                      53,370
Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 42,200

In May 2019, the median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $58,270
Heavy and civil engineering construction 52,210
Rental and leasing services 49,410
Farm and garden machinery and equipment merchant wholesalers                                42,900

Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians work full time, and many work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.

Farm equipment mechanics’ work varies by time of the year. During busy planting and harvesting seasons, for example, mechanics often work six or seven 12-hour days per week. In the winter months, however, they may work less than full time.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the stock of heavy vehicles and mobile equipment continues to increase, more service technicians will be needed to maintain them. Growth rates will vary by specialty.

Employment of farm equipment mechanics and service technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for farm equipment repairers will be driven primarily by the need for agricultural products to feed a growing population. These products are produced with the use of increasingly complex farm equipment.

Employment of mobile heavy equipment mechanics is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Population and business growth will result in the construction of more houses, office buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures, creating a steady demand for mobile heavy equipment mechanics.

Employment of rail car repairers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations. Rail car repairers will continue to be needed to repair railcars used for freight shipping and transportation, as well as public transportation.

Job Prospects

Most job opportunities will come from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the occupation. Those who have completed postsecondary education programs should enjoy the best job prospects. Those without postsecondary education or certification are likely to face stronger competition for entry-level jobs.

The majority of job openings are expected to be in sectors that sell, rent, or lease heavy vehicles and mobile equipment. These sectors employ a large proportion of service technicians.

The construction and mining industries, which use a large amount of heavy equipment, are sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. As a result, job opportunities for service technicians in these sectors will vary with overall economic conditions.

Job opportunities for farm equipment mechanics are seasonal and are generally best during warmer months.

For More Information

For more details about job openings for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, consult local heavy and mobile equipment dealers and distributors, construction contractors, and government agencies. Local offices of the state employment service also may have information on job openings and training programs.

For more information about careers and training programs, visit

Associated Equipment Distributors

National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation

National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence

 

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

I would like to cite this page for a report. Who is the author?

There is no published author for this page. Please use citation guidelines for webpages without an author available. 

I think I have found an error or inaccurate information on this page. Who should I contact?

This information is taken directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Truity does not editorialize the information, including changing information that our readers believe is inaccurate, because we consider the BLS to be the authority on occupational information. However, if you would like to correct a typo or other technical error, you can reach us at help@truity.com.

I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

Find Jobs Near You