It’s a tough job, maintaining the country’s heavy vehicles so they stay in good repair, but it’s also a crucial one that ensures our roads are in good order, keeps our transportation vehicles moving, and our agricultural equipment operating so we can feed our citizens. Where would we be without the unsung heroes who maintain our country’s heavy vehicles for construction, transportation, and agriculture?
Maintaining heavy vehicles isn’t the easiest career path, but it can be a rewarding one for those with a flair for technical work. You don’t need a lot of higher education, but you do need to like working with your hands, have a reasonable level of physical strength to work with heavy tools, and have an interest in working on diesel engine repair, hydraulic systems, power trains, or electrical engines. Maybe you’ve never tried your hand at this kind of work, but if maintaining the big engines that power heavy vehicles appeals to you as a career path, then formal training in heavy vehicle technology may be the right path for you.
To start, you should have a high school diploma, and maybe a commercial driver license. But after that, you will need a training program that will prepare you for employment. And then, even after you get your first job and acquire some experience, you may realize that you don’t always want to be a technician. Perhaps you aspire to work in management, ensuring the technicians stay on top of machine maintenance, overseeing the finances, and promoting the most efficient business practices.
Heavy Vehicle Technician Maintenance Training
To become a heavy vehicle technician, you could conceivably be hired and receive on-the-job training, then obtain certifications from organizations such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. However, you will be ahead in your job search if you complete some formal training first. One way to go about it is to enroll in a vocational or technical college and earn a diploma. Look for a program where you’ll learn about preventative maintenance inspections, vehicle electrical systems, four-cycle diesel engines, diesel fuel systems, drivelines, brakes and suspension, steering and alignment, and hydraulic systems. Ideally, your program should provide you with a combination of classroom instruction, and laboratory, so you can get hands-on experience. Be sure your program has modern test equipment and the latest in specialized equipment. Your instructors should preferably have been or be working professionals in the field who can impart their on-the-job experiences to the class.
If you’re looking to move beyond the technician’s role, you will probably want to earn an associate’s degree from a vocational or technical college or a community college. You would need to study practical aspects of diesel engine maintenance and heavy vehicle subsystems, but you would also need coursework in business management, communications, customer service, inventory management, understanding financial reports, and employee relations. These business skills will help prepare you for managing the finances and personnel for a heavy equipment business or operation.
Jobs in Heavy Vehicle Maintenance
Heavy vehicle maintenance technicians and managers can work almost anywhere that construction, transportation, or agricultural work requiring heavy equipment occurs. Jobs are also available in the marine construction industry, involving maintenance of cranes, off-road equipment, air compressors, generators, concrete pumping equipment, and others. Heavy equipment technicians and managers in the construction industry might expect to be responsible for dozers, front-end loaders, and packers, while those maintaining agricultural equipment might expect to work on tractors, combines, plows, harrows, spreaders, seeders, balers, and harvesters.
Training/Working in Hampton Roads
In 2009 the federal government provided Virginia with stimulus funds, $700 million of which were used on transport infrastructure (meaning roads and rail). That was a big boost to the heavy equipment industry, both in terms of training and job opportunities, and it is one that has carried over nine years later, albeit modestly. Overall, the Virginia construction industry is poised for some growth, primarily in hospitals, retail, warehouses and lodging. The more or less optimistic outlook is hampered, however, by a concern that enough skilled workers won’t be found if growth does materialize, according to a 2017 article in Virginia Business.
Whether you are seeking a job or researching training in heavy vehicle maintenance, you may find that the Hampton Roads area presents some opportunities, particularly in the marine construction industry. Local construction projects might include building docks, boat lifts, piers, ramps, floating docks, and seawalls. There are also several training facilities in the area that teach heavy vehicle skills.
One of your best options might be to earn a diploma in Heavy Vehicle Technology if you are interested in becoming a technician or an Associate in Occupational Science degree in Heavy Vehicle Technology with Service Management if you are inclined toward management. Contact Advanced Technology Institute TODAY for more information.