Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, and other industries.
What they do
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.
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.
How to become a Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician
Most heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a high school diploma or equivalent. Because vehicle and equipment technology are increasingly sophisticated and computerized, some employers prefer to hire service technicians who have completed a formal training program at a postsecondary institution.
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 degrees, generally take 2 years to complete.
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.
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.
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.
Overall employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029. Projected employment change varies by specialty.
Agricultural products used to feed a growing population are produced with the use of increasingly complex farm equipment, which will require farm equipment repairers to make them operational. However, new automated and precision farm equipment is often built with predictive maintenance and software systems that are more reliable, requiring fewer workhours.
Population and business growth will result in the construction of houses, office buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures, which in turn will require mobile heavy equipment mechanics in the construction industry. However, nearly 3 in 10 of these workers are employed in wholesale trade, which is projected to decrease in employment over the next decade.
Some rail car repairers will continue to be needed to repair railcars used for freight shipping and transportation, as well as public transportation. However, reduced employment for these workers is expected to over the next 10 years due to projected employment declines in the rail transportation and support activities for rail transportation industries.
Similar Job Titles
Construction Equipment Mechanic, Equipment Mechanic, Equipment Technician, Field Mechanic, Field Service Technician, Field Technician, Heavy Equipment Mechanic, Heavy Equipment Technician, Mechanic, Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Electric Motor/Power Tool/Related Repairer, Automotive Master Mechanic, Bus and Truck Mechanic and Diesel Engine Specialist, Farm Equipment Mechanic and Service Technician, Motorboat Mechanic and Service Technician
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- International Fluid Power Society - The International Fluid Power Society (IFPS) strengthens and advances professional careers in the fluid power workforce through our work in education, training, and certification.
- International Union of Operating Engineers - IUOE is a trade union representing all workers from the heavy equipment operators and mechanics in the construction industry, to the stationary engineers—those who maintain and operate building and industrial complexes and service industries throughout the United States and Canada.
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence - ASE is a non-profit organization has worked to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals.
Magazines and Publications
Keeping the country’s transportation and heavy equipment in motion takes a lot of horsepower… and a crew of highly-skilled technicians and mechanics. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, railways, and road transportation. Diesel service technicians and mechanics service buses and trucks, or repair any type of diesel engine. Many work for trucking companies, wholesale trade firms, and government agencies. Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians repair farm equipment as well as smaller lawn and garden tractors. Most work for dealer repair shops, with seasonal variation in job duties. Mobile heavy equipment mechanics maintain construction and surface mining equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, and excavators. Most work for government, equipment rental shops, and large construction and mining companies. Rail car repairers keep railroad locomotives, subway cars, and other rolling stock in good repair. They usually work for railroad, public and private transit companies, and for manufacturers. These technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy and dirty equipment, and work in awkward positions. While many work indoors in repair shops, some specialize in field service and travel to worksites that may be outdoors, in all types of weather. Service technicians generally work full time, sometimes including evenings or weekends. Overtime is common. Most service technicians have a high school education. Formal training and certificates are increasingly preferred by employers. Certificates usually take 1 to 2 years to earn. Once hired, trainees usually reach full qualification after 3 to 4 years.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOne Stop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org