Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Summary

heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians image
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians repair vehicles such as bulldozers and tractors.
Quick Facts: Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians
2014 Median Pay $45,930 per year
$22.08 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 186,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 10,100

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, rail transportation, and other industries.

Work Environment

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 formal training program at a postsecondary institution.

Pay

The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $45,930 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities for qualified jobseekers should be good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians Do

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians
Service technicians inspect, repair, and replace defective or worn parts.

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, hydraulics, 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.

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 an air 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. This may involve disassembling and reassembling major equipment or making adjustments through an onboard computer program.

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 railroad, public and private transit companies, and rail car manufacturers.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians and mechanics who primarily work on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

Work Environment

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians
Some service technicians travel to worksites to make repairs.

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians held about 186,500 jobs in 2014. Most service technicians worked for private companies.

About 60 percent of farm equipment mechanics and service technicians worked for farm and garden machinery and equipment merchant wholesalers, and about 13 percent worked in crop production in 2014.

About 26 percent of mobile heavy equipment mechanics worked for machinery, equipment, and supplies merchant wholesalers, and another 19 percent worked in construction in 2014. About 14 percent worked in government, and about 9 percent were employed in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

Most rail car repairers—about 84 percent—worked in transportation and warehousing, which includes rail transportation and support activities for rail transportation in 2014.

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 often 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 slower winter months, however, they may work less than full time.

How to Become a Heavy Vehicle or Mobile Equipment Service Technician

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems.

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. Most programs last 1 to 2 years and lead to certificates 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 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 require less training.

Many employers send new service technicians to training sessions conducted by equipment manufacturers. Training sessions may focus on particular components and technologies or 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, which can help find the source of malfunctions when they are difficult to identify.

Pay

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2014

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

$45,930

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$39,450

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $45,930 in May 2014. 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 $28,890, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $67,070.

Median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in May 2014 were as follows:

Rail car repairers $54,020
Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines 47,580
Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 36,150

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 slower 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 had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2014.

Job Outlook

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

6%

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

5%

 

Employment of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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 7 percent, 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. Demand for other products, such as biofuels, will also increase repairer employment. 

Employment of mobile heavy equipment mechanics is projected to grow 5 percent, 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, slower than the average for all occupations. Rail car repairers will continue to be needed to repair rail cars 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 formal postsecondary training programs should enjoy the best job prospects. Those without formal training or certification are likely to face strong 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, where a large proportion of service technicians are employed.

The construction and mining industries, which use large numbers 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, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 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 186,500 196,500 5 10,100 [XLSX]

Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians

49-3041 40,300 43,200 7 2,900 [XLSX]

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines

49-3042 124,700 131,300 5 6,600 [XLSX]

Rail car repairers

49-3043 21,500 22,000 3 600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

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 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. They also may perform aircraft inspections as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

See How to Become One $56,980
Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Postsecondary nondegree award $37,120
Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

High school diploma or equivalent $43,630
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

High school diploma or equivalent $47,450
Small engine mechanics

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment.

See How to Become One $34,130

Contacts 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

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, 2016-17 Edition, Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heavy-vehicle-and-mobile-equipment-service-technicians.htm (visited February 11, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015