Heavy-Duty Mechanic: What You Need to Know About the Trade
Do you enjoy tinkering with tools, machines and trucks as a hobby? Are you good with precise work, problem-solving as well as physically-challenging manual tasks? If so, then you may want to consider a career as a heavy-duty (HD) mechanic.
An HD mechanic is one of the highest paying careers for mechanics. Moreover, there is currently a high demand for heavy-duty mechanics in Alberta, Canada.
What is a heavy-duty mechanic?
An HD mechanic is a professional who is responsible for the basic testing, maintenance, adjustment, repair and overhaul of heavy-duty equipment. Likewise, an HD mechanic is knowledgeable from preventive maintenance to emergency breakdown repairs of different heavy equipment.
The heavy equipment is usually off-road and motorized such as heavy vehicles and machinery which are legal to run on the highway. A heavy-duty equipment mechanic who deals with HD vehicles ran by diesel engines is also referred to as a diesel mechanic or heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician. In some cases, non-motorized heavy equipment may also be involved like various vehicle attachments (removable parts) and mobile containers attached to HD trucks such as trailers.
Service trucks and trailers usually go together in transportation. For that matter, an HD equipment mechanic may perform services such as trailer repair and be also known as a transport trailer mechanic or truck and transport mechanic.
Other designations for an HD mechanic include heavy equipment mechanic, heavy-duty technician and heavy equipment technician.
What heavy equipment do heavy-duty mechanics service?
Heavy-duty technicians repair and maintain heavy-duty equipment commonly used in the transportation, construction, oil & gas and mining industries. These heavy machinery and heavy vehicles often perform earthwork operations and movement. Moreover, most HD equipment covers multiple functions which make them heavily used in the site. With larger companies having multiple vehicles and equipment in their fleets, Heavy-Duty mechanics are an essential part of the operation of their business for regular repair, maintenance and other fleet services.
How do I become a heavy-duty mechanic?
Heavy equipment technician as an occupation does not require a college degree; all you need is a high school diploma. However, aspirants must note that most employers prefer applicants with post-secondary education related to HD mechanics. Moreover, acquiring a journeyman certificate will get you a more competitive edge at being successful than having no formal training at all.
For this reason, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) located in Edmonton greatly helps to equip you with the essential education credentials and confidence. The School of Skilled Trades offers programs that train you to maintain, repair and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial equipment, both towed and self-propelled.
Above all, NAIT provides flexible schedule options for the heavy equipment technician course. Hence, you can opt to take classes at your available time whether on a full-time or part-time basis.
The minimum requirement to be able to readily work as an HD equipment mechanic is to be a registered apprentice. Subsequently, to become a certified HD technician, you must first undergo 2 to 4 years of apprenticeship or on-the-job training.
The apprenticeship programs offered in Alberta are a combination of classroom experience and hands-on training. In the hands-on training, a journeyman heavy-duty mechanic supervises the mechanic apprentice. An apprentice is paid by the hour while learning at the same time, but only at a lower rate.
The Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training have different terms for each branch of the trade. Each term will be including a minimum number of hours/weeks for on-the-job training as well as technical training each year.
Depending on the province and territory, secondary school students as early as Grade 10 may already enrol in apprenticeship programs part-time. As long as they pass the entry assessment test, any previous experience or industry training will not be necessary. Consequently, all technical training and work experience they have accumulated in their undergrad level will be credited to the total required term.
- Note: Employers and trainers expect mechanic apprentices to provide their tools.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship and passing the exams, a journeyperson or journeyman certificate will be awarded depending on the branch of the trade.
Journeypersons have more opportunities for work, career advancement and promotion. However, employers may also look at a mechanic’s years of experience apart from the certificate itself.
Although other provinces and territories allow voluntary trade certification, Alberta and Quebec mandate certification for HD equipment technicians.
Red Seal qualification
A Red Seal heavy-duty mechanic is a tradesperson who successfully passed the Red Seal examination. As a result, the provincial or territorial trade grants him endorsement to work as a heavy equipment technician anywhere in Canada.
In other words, Red Seal qualification is recognized all across the country. More importantly, it is an indication that your skills as a heavy-duty technician meet the national industry standard.
How much do heavy-duty mechanics make?
The average wage per hour for a heavy equipment mechanic in Edmonton, Alberta ranges from CA$36 to CA$38.92. Supervisory level and most experienced heavy-duty mechanics have an average hourly rate of CA$44.51 to as high as CA$57.95. While entry-level HD technicians may receive an average hourly wage between CA$18.17 to CA$30.
What skills should heavy-duty mechanics possess?
Should you think that you don’t possess the following set of skills, worry not. You will be able to learn everything else in training and through work experiences.
HD equipment is big. Therefore, the parts and components that make it are also huge and may require a great deal of strength in terms of mobilization. As a general rule of thumb, a heavy equipment mechanic should be able to lift at least 20kg of weight.
The work of a heavy equipment technician requires precise eye-hand coordination. Moreover, the skilful use of hands is vital to manipulate different tools and objects. As a result, it leads to more controlled movements and keeps errors to a minimum.
Attention to detail
Being detail-oriented is extremely important for an HD technician in carrying out an inspection, testing and adjustment task. Subsequently, an HD equipment technician must carefully take into account every single aspect to identify and solve issues.
At the end of the day, a heavy equipment technician should be able to properly document each work done for reference. Having patience in accomplishing and organizing paperwork after a long, tiring day is a skill every heavy equipment technician should master.
Good work ethic
A positive work attitude yields favourable results. For instance, long hours of work should not take away a mechanic’s motivation to do well. Self-discipline, the right mindset and commitment to finish duties always get the job done.
The size, weight and power of HD equipment and tools may be hazardous and risky for all the workers in the site. Hence, safety should always come first in the role of HD technicians. An HD equipment mechanic should keep safety standards in mind at all times.
Is heavy-duty mechanic the right career path for you?
If you think you have what it takes to be a heavy-duty equipment mechanic after learning all the necessary skills and requirements, then you may have found the perfect career prospect.
Being a heavy-duty technician is not for everyone. The good thing is that high school graduates who aspire to be one have an equal opportunity to become a heavy equipment mechanic by undergoing training.
Aim to complete training and pursue certifications, gain more relevant experiences and be one of the best in the trade!