Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Mobile Equipment Mechanic Jobs

  • Journeyman Mechanic - Carmeuse - Gary, IN

    of the position include, but are not limited to: * inspecting, repairing, installing, and servicing of stationary and mobile equipment; * repairs and

  • MOBILE DIESEL MECHANIC-TRUCKING MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN/MECHANIC - Dickinson Fleet Services - Taunton, MA

    We are seeking a self-motivated and self-reliant Mobile Diesel Mechanic who will travel to our customers’ locations to perform routine scheduled

  • Mobile Equipment Mechanic - Eric Hess - Mico, TX

    In this position, the employee will also be responsible for limited operation of the heavy equipment in both production and diagnostic roles. Perform

See all Mobile Equipment Mechanic jobs

What Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

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 of Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

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 for Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician 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[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Heavy Vehicle or Mobile Equipment Service Technicians near you!

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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician 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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician 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 for Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians was $47,120 in May 2015. 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 $29,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $69,840.

Median annual wages for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians in May 2015 were as follows:

Rail car repairers $55,570
Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines 48,770
Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 37,050

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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician 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 for Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

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.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians 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 Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics 186,500 196,500 5 10,100
  Farm equipment mechanics and service technicians 40,300 43,200 7 2,900
  Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines 124,700 131,300 5 6,600
  Rail car repairers 21,500 22,000 3 600


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: