What Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians Do
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, and other industries.
Service technicians usually work indoors in noisy repair shops. They often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy and dirty equipment, and stand or lie in uncomfortable positions. Most service technicians work full time, and many work evenings and weekends.
How to Become a Heavy Vehicle or Mobile Equipment Service Technician
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 training program at a postsecondary institution.
The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $51,590 in May 2019.
Overall employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029.
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.
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 218,100 jobs in 2019. 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||152,900|
|Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians||40,800|
|Rail car repairers||24,300|
The largest employers of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians were as follows:
|Farm and garden machinery and equipment merchant wholesalers||12%|
|Heavy and civil engineering construction||7|
|Rental and leasing services||7|
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.
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.
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 2019|
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.
|See How to Become One||$64,310|
Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$42,350|
Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.
|Postsecondary nondegree award||$42,090|
Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses, trucks, or any vehicle with a diesel engine.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$48,500|
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||$52,860|
Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment.
|See How to Become One||$37,840|
Water transportation workers operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water.
|See How to Become One||$57,330|
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
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heavy-vehicle-and-mobile-equipment-service-technicians.htm (visited ).