Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians


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.

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%
Transportation and warehousing 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.

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.

Important Qualities

Dexterity. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must perform many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, with 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.

Organizational skills. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must maintain accurate service records and parts inventories.

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 to find the source of malfunctions.

The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $50,320 in May 2018.

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 $32,280, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,370.

Median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in May 2018 were as follows:

Rail car repairers $56,220
Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines 51,920
Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 40,630

In May 2018, the median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $57,630
Transportation and warehousing 55,610
Heavy and civil engineering construction 50,050
Rental and leasing services 48,480
Farm and garden machinery and equipment merchant wholesalers 41,150

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.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2018

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

$50,320

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$43,320

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

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.

Employment projections data for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics

49-3040 220,700 228,600 4 7,900 Get data

Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians

49-3041 45,400 47,100 4 1,700 Get data

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines

49-3042 150,300 155,700 4 5,500 Get data

Rail car repairers

49-3043 25,100 25,800 3 700 Get data

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2018

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.

See How to Become One $63,060

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,330

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Postsecondary nondegree award $40,710

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, or any vehicle with a diesel engine.

High school diploma or equivalent $47,350

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights install, maintain, and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,630

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment.

See How to Become One $37,060

Water Transportation Workers

Water transportation workers operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water.

See How to Become One $54,400

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

O*NET

Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians

Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines

Rail Car Repairers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heavy-vehicle-and-mobile-equipment-service-technicians.htm (visited ).


 

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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