How to Become a Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician

There are those who repair the ubiquitous car that America uses to allow the existence of suburbs, then there are those who repair pretty much everything larger than that whose shape doesn’t resemble an automobile. From tractors and combines to cranes and trains, the heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians of the world keep the heavy capital running on a day-to-day basis.

Much like an automobile technician, the duties of this career encompass both the routine maintenance and repair of these massive mechanical instruments; however, the role of the heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician differs from that of the automobile technician in both the wide variety of machines that one can be expected to service, as well as the expectation that certain pieces of machinery warrant a house call to the site of the breakdown due to extreme size, fragility, or cost.

High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

These added requirements and the need to be a jack of all trades in the mechanical world cause the wage of such a technician to easily outstrip those in the automotive sector, resulting in a median pay of $42,630 annually.


Given the heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician is a professional service career, there is no hard need for college education to obtain an entry-level position as one; however, as this is a highly technical line of work, community colleges and vocational schools have begun to offer courses, while some colleges even offer four-year degrees on the topic.

As a result, the career as a whole is at a bit of a crossroads. While the traditional nature of such jobs is to educate practitioners with extensive on-the-job training, the reality of this down economy combined with the ever-increasing emphasis on post-secondary education in the United States results in a job market that does not require post-secondary education, but does give a great advantage to those who have taken the time to officially train in the skillset.

Effectively, if an employer sees anything that at all that suggests that his own costs to get an employee up to speed will be lower than normal, it is highly likely that this opportunity will be pounced upon with much enthusiasm. As the first step onto an advancement ladder is always the most difficult one, the decision whether or not to expend time and significant money acquiring certification becomes a particularly critical one.


The heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician is trained in the repair of a number of highly specialized pieces of equipment. Given that repairing highly specialized equipment is, by definition, highly specialized knowledge, advancement into administrative roles and the like simply doesn’t occur. The technician is too valuable when he is getting his hands dirty!

Instead, a technician gains specializations and ever more impressive-sounding job titles that carry generally the same job description, perhaps with a bit more responsibility than the previous title.

The specializations among heavy equipment technicians are as follows.

  • Farm equipment mechanics – These individuals focus on harvesters, combines, and other large equipment used in agriculture, as well as consumer lawn mowers. As this category tends to exclude one-of-a-kind machinery, most repairs are the domain of specialty repair shops that cater to farmers and are not shy about picking up the odd residential mower for extra income here and there.
  • Mobile heavy equipment mechanics – These individuals focus on excavators, bulldozers, graders, and cranes. In essence, if the machine is stereotypically painted yellow and does not shuttle children to school, this sort of mechanic repairs it. Some of these individuals work for the government and maintain tanks and other military vehicles.
  • Rail car repairers – These individuals focus on the machinery that makes rail transit function. This includes trains, subways, the trolley cars in San Francisco, and specialty rails like the L in Chicago.

In this way, a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician experiences an advancement ladder, but ends up doing about the same job his entire career.

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