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Heavy equipment technicians repair, overhaul and maintain mobile heavy equipment such as highway transport vehicles, construction and earth moving equipment, tractors and mobile industrial equipment.

Heavy equipment technicians employed by organizations that maintain their own heavy duty equipment (e.g. commercial trucking lines, construction firms, oil, mining and logging companies) usually follow a regular checklist of inspections for preventive maintenance and make any necessary repairs.

In general, heavy equipment technicians:

  • 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 to ensure that the work done meets manufacturers' specifications and legislated regulations.

In large or specialized shops, heavy equipment technicians may specialize in engine overhaul, power shift transmissions, fuel pumps and injectors, hydraulic controls, electrical and electronic equipment, air conditioning, or track equipment.

The working environment for heavy equipment technicians varies considerably from one job to another. Some heavy equipment technicians work in modern laboratories overhauling fuel injection pumps and delivery systems. Others work in construction fields, sometimes in an oily or greasy environment or in inclement weather. Travel requirements and hours of work also vary. There is some risk of injury involved in working with heavy equipment and power tools. Lifting may berequired in excess of 25 kilograms.

To be successful in this trade, heavy equipment technicians need: 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 with changes in technology. The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy achieving expertise with precise work, problem-solving and working with their hands.

In Alberta, the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act requires that anyone working in a certified trade be a certified journeyman or a registered apprentice. To enter the Heavy Equipment Technician apprenticeship program, applicants must have at least Grade 11 education or equivalent (or pass an entrance exam), and find an appropriate employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice.

Employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates or technical school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees. Courses in English, Mathematics and Science are particularly important. Apprentices must also supply their own set of basic tools (costing from $3000 to $7000).

The term of apprenticeship is four years (four 12-month periods with a minimum of 1500 hours of employment each year). In addition to on-the-job training, the term also requires eight weeks of classroom training for each year. An applicant who has successfully completed related courses of study or work experience, and has the employer's recommendation, can apply for credit toward the apprenticeship.

When apprentices attend training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies. Human Resources Development Canada may provide income support for apprentices attending classroom training.

Apprentice heavy equipment technicians earn at least 60 percent of the journeyman wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, and 90 percent in the fourth year. Journeyman wage rates vary, but generally range from $16 to $28 an hour plus benefits.



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