Heavy vehicle mechanics repair and maintain equipment that might include diesel trucks, tractors, cranes, and bulldozers, to till land, haul goods and equipment, lift beams, dig earth, and perform other jobs. Heavy vehicle mechanics and technicians typically work on hydraulic systems, transmissions, engines, and electrical systems of a vast array of vehicles used in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and transportation. They are likely to be trained to work on brakes, fuel lines, and other systems.
What Do Today’s Service Techs Need to Know about the Industry?
Today’s service technicians must be familiar with diagnostic computers to pinpoint problems so they can make adjustments or perform repairs. For instance, an oscilloscope might be used to observe electronic signals. A service technician will also use a wide variety of machine and power tools, such as welding equipment, pneumatic (impact) wrenches, and lathes.
A modern technician might also use hand tools, including screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches for repairs on smaller parts and in areas that are hard to reach.
Technicians may have to disassemble and reassemble major equipment so they can repair, replace, and recalibrate components. They may also make adjustments or find problems through an onboard computer program.
What Types of Vehicles Might I Be Working On?
Here are a few specific examples of the type of work service technicians and mechanics do in three industries:
Farm equipment: Work on tractors and harvesters, as well as consumer grade lawn and garden tractors in dealer repair shops.
Rail car repairs: Service railroad locomotives, subway cars, other rolling stock in the garages of railroads, private and public transit companies, railcar manufacturers.
Mobile heavy equipment: Maintain and repair construction and surface mining equipment, including bulldozers, graders, excavators, cranes in equipment rental/leasing shops, for government garages, and construction and mining firms.
Learning to Be a Heavy Vehicle Mechanic
Your best bet for entering the profession of heavy vehicle mechanic/technician is to obtain some formal training. The right program can give you a good grounding in practical diesel engine maintenance and heavy vehicle subsystems in a classroom and in a lab. You should enroll in a program where modern test equipment and specialized tools are available, so that you can gain hands-on experience in a real shop setting.
Formal training can teach you diagnostic methods and the best repair procedures. With the right training, you will have a foundation that prepares you for work in an apprenticeship or as an entry-level repair technician.
You’ll have an added advantage if you enroll in a program that also gives you a foundation in customer service and business management. As you progress in your career, you may want to move up to the next rung, where you might become a shop manager.
Your likelihood of success will be enhanced if you improve your communication skills, both written and spoken; get some training in human resources and employee relations; learn about inventory management; and how to create and read business financial reports.
Generally, service technicians who complete a one- to two-year post-secondary training in a college or vocational school require less on-the-job training once they obtain a job in the industry, which could be advantageous when moving up the career ladder. You could even more up in the field faster if you go through an accelerated program. These types of programs might help you to graduate faster and can help you start applying for jobs in your field while your counterparts in 2-year programs are still awaiting graduation.
Hampton Roads Employment in the Heavy Vehicle Industry
Heavy vehicle mechanics in the Hampton Roads area may find employment in the shipbuilding industry, where a number of types of marine vessels are built, including submarines and freighters. There are also numerous military installations in this area, many of which require mechanics for maintaining and repairing trucks and other heavy vehicles. There are also industrial and manufacturing firms in this area, as well as aerospace and aviation companies, all of which require the services of heavy vehicle technicians and mechanics.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step?
Does a career as a heavy vehicle mechanic or heavy vehicle mechanic service management appeal to you? Contact Advanced Technology Institute today for more about the Associate in Occupational Science Degree in Heavy Vehicle Technology with Service Management.