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Heavy Equipment Mechanics

At a Glance

  • Repair machines used in industrial work (such as construction and logging)
  • Use gauges, meters, and hand tools
  • Work alone most of the time
  • May travel to get to equipment needing repair
  • Complete formal training or train on the job

Career summary

Heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain equipment such as graders, backhoes, and loading shovels.

Heavy equipment mechanics repair machines used in industrial work such as:

Mechanics maintain equipment so that it operates properly and safely. They examine equipment that breaks down for defects. They use hand-held computers to diagnose components that need repair. They may take the equipment apart to inspect or repair various parts. Sometimes they use jacks or hoists to lift or move large parts.

Heavy equipment mechanics check parts for damage using gauges and meters. They may clean parts by spraying them with or soaking them in solvent. They grease and oil parts that need it.

Mechanics repair or replace damaged or worn parts. They use hand tools to remove the parts and machine tools to repair some parts. They use welding equipment to weld broken frames or parts. They reassemble repaired equipment and test it for performance and safety.

Heavy equipment mechanics who work in large repair shops perform complex repairs. They may rebuild engines, fix electrical problems, or repair hydraulic pumps. They often specialize in one or two types of work, including:

Related careers

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to heavy equipment mechanics.

Common work activities

Heavy equipment mechanics perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, heavy equipment mechanics:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Heavy equipment mechanics frequently:

It is important for heavy equipment mechanics to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for heavy equipment mechanics to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Heavy equipment mechanics need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a heavy equipment mechanic, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Some heavy equipment mechanics complete diesel technology programs. Professional-technical schools and two-year colleges offer these programs. Some of these programs focus on heavy equipment mechanics. You learn the fundamentals of diesel engines, transmissions, and hydraulics. Most programs offer a combination of class instruction and hands-on practice. Programs last six months to two years. Two-year programs usually grant an associate degree.

On-the-job training

Many heavy equipment mechanics receive training on the job from an experienced mechanic. You begin by working as a helper. As a helper, you perform routine services and make minor repairs. As you get more experience, you work on more complex tasks. On-the-job training usually takes three to four years to complete.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be mechanics. They offer training in several types of engines, such as boat, auto, and heavy equipment. Training lasts eight to 29 weeks, depending on your specialty. Further training occurs on the job.

Washington apprenticeships

In Washington, heavy equipment mechanic apprenticeships fall under automotive machinists apprenticeships. The requirements for automotive machinists apprentice programs are as follows:

Additionally, applicants must:

Some programs require apprentices to pass an assessement test.

Contact Labor and Industries or check their apprenticeship website to see if programs are currently offered.

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#OK 4/17/09 lh & 4/21/10, 4/4/12 & 3/18/14, 4/25/16 cj. Made minor change 4/3/18 cj.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers prefer applicants who have completed a training program. The program could be in diesel or heavy equipment repair. Employers also prefer applicants who are familiar with diesel engines, transmissions, electrical systems, and hydraulics. Knowledge of electronics is also helpful.

Costs to workers

Most heavy equipment mechanics must buy their own hand tools, uniforms, and footwear. Some are required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines (SOC 49-3042)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $18.51 $22.97 $28.36 $34.23 $39.20
Monthly $3,208 $3,981 $4,915 $5,932 $6,793
Yearly $38,500 $47,770 $58,990 $71,200 $81,540
    Bellingham Hourly $18.26 $22.47 $29.11 $35.71 $39.45
Monthly $3,164 $3,894 $5,045 $6,189 $6,837
Yearly $37,990 $46,727 $60,559 $74,286 $82,054
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $19.50 $23.39 $27.90 $31.35 $34.33
Monthly $3,379 $4,053 $4,835 $5,433 $5,949
Yearly $40,565 $48,646 $58,013 $65,205 $71,402
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $18.00 $22.03 $26.36 $30.06 $33.72
Monthly $3,119 $3,818 $4,568 $5,209 $5,844
Yearly $37,445 $45,820 $54,816 $62,533 $70,135
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $17.28 $20.51 $26.15 $30.04 $35.15
Monthly $2,995 $3,554 $4,532 $5,206 $6,091
Yearly $35,950 $42,664 $54,405 $62,494 $73,113
    Longview Hourly $18.00 $24.95 $28.64 $33.12 $37.58
Monthly $3,119 $4,324 $4,963 $5,740 $6,513
Yearly $37,432 $51,900 $59,573 $68,886 $78,159
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $19.88 $21.80 $25.63 $35.07 $41.69
Monthly $3,445 $3,778 $4,442 $6,078 $7,225
Yearly $41,348 $45,340 $53,309 $72,937 $86,712
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $21.67 $26.37 $32.72 $36.79 $39.24
Monthly $3,755 $4,570 $5,670 $6,376 $6,800
Yearly $45,057 $54,833 $68,051 $76,528 $81,621
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $20.62 $25.15 $30.45 $36.73 $41.56
Monthly $3,573 $4,358 $5,277 $6,365 $7,202
Yearly $42,897 $52,321 $63,337 $76,391 $86,453
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $17.53 $21.95 $27.50 $32.17 $37.42
Monthly $3,038 $3,804 $4,766 $5,575 $6,485
Yearly $36,461 $45,647 $57,207 $66,923 $77,833
    Vancouver Hourly $17.17 $21.48 $27.20 $32.30 $39.58
Monthly $2,976 $3,722 $4,714 $5,598 $6,859
Yearly $35,712 $44,685 $56,570 $67,190 $82,339
    Wenatchee Hourly $16.72 $19.89 $23.76 $28.63 $34.97
Monthly $2,898 $3,447 $4,118 $4,962 $6,060
Yearly $34,775 $41,379 $49,436 $59,554 $72,726
    Yakima Hourly $15.17 $20.19 $23.33 $27.57 $31.28
Monthly $2,629 $3,499 $4,043 $4,778 $5,421
Yearly $31,566 $41,991 $48,530 $57,356 $65,052
United States Hourly $16.30 $20.05 $24.96 $30.21 $36.83
Monthly $2,825 $3,475 $4,326 $5,235 $6,383
Yearly $33,910 $41,700 $51,920 $62,830 $76,600

Wages and benefits vary by employer. Full-time mechanics may receive benefits such as sick leave, vacation pay, and health insurance.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines (SOC 49-3042)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 4,907 8.5% 16.1% 569
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 171 8.2% 13.4% 19
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 152 2.0% 8.6% 15
    Benton and Franklin Counties 247 10.5% 15.0% 30
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 272 3.7% 11.9% 28
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 338 2.7% 15.2% 34
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 368 4.6% 14.1% 39
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 235 7.2% 14.6% 26
    King County 1,506 7.8% 19.6% 172
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 161 6.8% 13.8% 17
    Pierce County 640 10.8% 15.2% 78
    Snohomish County 386 7.3% 12.4% 42
    Spokane County 422 12.3% 13.9% 54
United States 150,300 3.6% 5.2% 15,800

National employment

About 25% of heavy equipment mechanics work for heavy equipment dealers.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand will be slower than average for heavy equipment mechanics. As the construction industry grows, opportunities will be best for those with formal training in diesel or heavy equipment mechanics.

Demand for heavy equipment mechanics follows the economic cycle. As the economy expands, construction increases and more mechanics are needed. As the economy slows down, construction decreases and heavy equipment may sit idle.

Other resources

Association of Diesel Specialists (external link)
7250 Heritage Village Plaza, Suite 201
Gainesville, VA 20155
International Union of Operating Engineers (external link)
1125 - 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster