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www.tradesecrets.orgHeavy Equipment Technician

Heavy equipment technicians maintain, repair and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial heavy equipment, and commercial transport devices connected to or moved by a power unit.

Also Known As:Heavy Equipment Mechanic (Off Road), Industrial Mechanic, Mechanic, Motor Vehicle Trades, Service Technician, Trailor Mechanic, Truck Mechanic
NOC Number(s):7312, 7321.3
Minimum Education:Apprenticeship Trade
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:O M I ; O I M

Related Videos:

Heavy Equipment Technician (Video courtesy of Equipment Careers)


Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, heavy equipment technicians:

  • interpret work orders and technical manuals
  • keep equipment cleaned, lubricated and maintained
  • diagnose faults or malfunctions
  • adjust equipment and repair or replace defective parts, components or systems
  • test repaired equipment for proper performance and ensure that the work done meets manufacturers' specifications and legislated regulations
  • write service reports.

In Alberta, there are four branches in the heavy equipment technician trade:

  • transport trailer mechanic
  • truck and transport mechanic
  • heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road)
  • heavy equipment technician.

Transport trailer mechanics maintain, repair and overhaul commercial transport devices connected to or moved by a power unit such as flat decks, dry freight vans, refrigerated vans, tankers, converters, boosters, pole trailers, jeeps, steering dollies, dump trailers and other commercial pull type devices.

Truck and transport mechanics maintain, repair and overhaul on-highway vehicles such as:

  • stationary or mobile internal combustion engines and components
  • on-highway vehicles such as trucks and buses
  • towed on-highway and off-highway vehicles (trailers).

Heavy duty equipment mechanics (off-road) maintain, repair and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial heavy equipment such as:

  • stationary and mobile internal combustion engines and components
  • tracked equipment (crawler tractors)
  • ground-engaging equipment and components
  • earth-moving equipment
  • off-highway motor vehicles (trucks)
  • towed off-highway vehicles (trailers).

Heavy equipment technicians maintain, repair and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial equipment such as:

  • stationary and mobile internal combustion engines and components 
  • tracked equipment (crawler tractors)
  • ground engaging equipment and components
  • earth moving equipment
  • rubber tired equipment (tractors)
  • on-highway and off-highway motor vehicles (trucks)
  • towed on-highway and off-highway vehicles (trailers).
Section revised October 2011

Working Conditions

The working environment for heavy equipment technicians varies considerably from one job to another. Some heavy equipment technicians work in modern laboratories. Others work at construction or industrial sites, sometimes outdoors in all types of weather conditions. Travel requirements and hours of work also vary. 

There is some risk of injury when working with heavy equipment and power tools.

Section revised October 2011

Personal Characteristics

Heavy equipment technicians need the following characteristics:

  • good vision, hearing and sense of smell to diagnose problems
  • the strength and stamina required to work with heavy equipment and work in cramped or awkward positions
  • the ability to work alone or as part of a team
  • mechanical ability and an interest in all types of machinery and engines, electronics and precision equipment
  • the ability to think logically and keep up to date with changes in technology.

They should enjoy doing precision work, solving problems and working with their hands.


Educational Requirements

To work in Alberta, a heavy equipment technician must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 20-2, Math 20-3 and Science 10, or equivalent, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. 

Terms of apprenticeship are different for each branch of this trade:

  • Transport trailer mechanic: two years (two 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in the first year and a minimum of 1,800 hours of on-the-job training in the second year.
  • Truck and transport mechanic: three years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in each year.
  • Heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road): three years (three 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in each year.
  • Heavy equipment technician: four years (four 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in each year. 

Apprentices generally are required to provide their own basic hand tools.

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road) and truck and transport mechanic apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Grande Prairie Regional College in Fairview
  • Keyano College in Fort McMurray
  • Lakeland College in Vermilion
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College 
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • Olds College
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

Outside the apprenticeship program, the following post-secondary institutions offer related training:

  • Lethbridge College offers a one year Agricultural and Heavy Equipment Technician certificate program.  Entrance requirements include English Language Arts 20-1 or 20-2 and Applied or Pure Math 20, or equivalent. Physics, chemistry, science and Grade 12 math and English are recommended.
  • Grande Prairie Regional College offers a five semester Heavy Equipment Service diploma program. Each semester includes eight weeks of theory and eight weeks of work experience. Entrance requirements include Grade 12 English, math and science. Grande Prairie Regional College also offers a 34 week Heavy Equipment certificate program. 
  • The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) offers a two year Industrial Heavy Equipment Technology diploma program in Edmonton. Entrance requirements include Grade 11 English, Pure Math 20 or Applied Math 30, and one of the following: Physics 20, Chemistry 30 or Science 30.
  • Keyano College offers a two year Heavy Equipment Technician diploma program in Fort McMurray. Entrance requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent.   
  • Olds College offers a one year Agricultural and Heavy Equipment certificate and a two year Heavy Equipment diploma program. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent with English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2 and Pure or Applied Math 20.
  • The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary offers a one year Diesel Equipment Technician certificate program. The entrance requirement is at least 70 Alberta high school credits (Grade 11) with Grade 11 English, Pure or Applied Math 20 and a Grade 11 science.

Pre-employment programs for prospective apprentices and continuing education programs for journeypersons may be offered on an as needed basis by the institution(s) listed above or other schools.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Section revised May 2012

Employment and Advancement

Places of employment may vary from one branch of the trade to another:

  • Transport trailer mechanics are employed in transportation company fleet repair shops, trailer dealerships, general mechanical repair shops, manufacturers' repair shops and specialized repair shops.
  • Truck and transport mechanics are employed in small repair shops, large fleet maintenance companies, transportation companies and construction companies.
  • Heavy duty equipment mechanics (off road) are employed in specialized repair shops, large fleet maintenance companies, transportation companies and construction companies.
  • Heavy equipment technicians are employed by specialized repair shops and organizations that own or lease the heavy equipment used in the construction, mining, forestry, material handling, landscaping, land clearing, agriculture and transportation industries.

In industries that are sensitive to economic changes, transport trailer mechanics and heavy duty equipment mechanics (off road) may experience periods of unemployment.

Experienced technicians may advance to supervisor or service manager positions. Alberta certified journeypersons who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Heavy equipment technicians are part of National Occupational Classification 7312: Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics. In Alberta, 82 per cent of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $30 to $60 an hour plus benefits (2011 estimate). Apprentice heavy equipment technicians earn at least 60 per cent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in their first year of apprenticeship, 70 per cent in the second, 80 per cent in the third and 90 per cent in the fourth.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Heavy-Duty Equipment Mechanics occupational group earned from $24.31 to $38.22 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $31.41 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

Alberta Construction Industry "Trade Up!" website: www.tradeupalberta.com

Calgary Construction Association website: www.cca.cc

Construction Sector Council website: www.csc-ca.org

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

Section revised February 2013

Related Occupational Profiles
Agricultural Equipment Technician
Automotive Service Technician
Natural Gas Compression Technician
Occupational Health and Safety Advisor
Railway Car Technician
Welder

Related High School Subjects
Science; and Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation (Mechanics)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Produced June 2009
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services