what is a heavy equipment mechanic?

As a heavy equipment mechanic, you repair and maintain heavy-duty machinery. You ensure the equipment is safe to operate and functions efficiently. Some of the heavy equipment you repair and maintain include industrial forklifts, earthmovers, dump trucks, cranes and bulldozers. Aside from maintaining and repairing, you also assist the team in assembling heavy-duty construction equipment, ensuring it is ready for use.

Since heavy equipment is used in many organizations, you work in diverse industries that rely on heavy equipment for daily operations. You can work for heavy equipment dealers, construction and agricultural companies. Some of the duties you perform in the companies include diagnosing faults, inspecting heavy construction equipment, and adjusting them to meet the required specifications.

You require extensive knowledge of equipment mechanics to troubleshoot problems that arise in the equipment. Since you use hand tools to overhaul the equipment and make replacements, it is important to have good manual dexterity. Your duties involve lifting heavy items and bending or standing for long hours. You rely on physical strength and fitness to carry out your tasks.

Would working as a heavy equipment mechanic suit your manual dexterity and interest in mechanics? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a heavy equipment mechanic role.

view jobs

average heavy equipment mechanic salary

According to Job Bank, the average salary of a heavy equipment mechanic is $63,313 per year —or an hourly rate of $32.47. When new to the role, you start with a lower salary of $51,119 yearly. After completing an apprenticeship and gaining trade certifications and experience, your earnings increase to over $79,058 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a heavy equipment mechanic?

Your earnings as a heavy equipment mechanic mainly depend on experience and qualifications. Having trade certifications or a Red Seal qualification improves your earning prospects. With additional qualifications, you are capable of handling complex tasks and can negotiate a higher salary after gaining more experience.

The size of the company you work for also influences your earnings. For example, working for a large construction organization boosts your earnings due to the company's unlimited resources. In large companies, you also handle complex tasks when dealing with specialized heavy-duty machinery, which may require additional expertise to maintain and repair. Smaller companies may have less complex duties or limited resources.

The location in which you work also influences your earnings, particularly due to the fluctuations in demand for heavy equipment mechanics. Some provinces in Canada, like Alberta and British Columbia, have higher salary prospects than other territories.

download our salary guide

types of heavy equipment mechanics

Most heavy equipment mechanics specialize in a particular industry. Some of the most common types of heavy equipment mechanics include:

  • Mobile heavy equipment mechanics: your job is to service and repair construction equipment. You work with equipment rental or leasing companies, as well as companies that carry out construction or mining projects in diverse areas. You maintain, repair, assemble and disassemble equipment on-site.
  • Farm heavy equipment mechanics: you repair and maintain agricultural equipment like tractors and harvesters. You will likely work in repair shops, where farm equipment is sent for repairs.
  • Rail car mechanics: as a heavy equipment mechanic, you service subway cars and railroad locomotives. You can work for railcar manufacturers or railroad and transit companies, assisting them with repairs and maintenance tasks.
man driving truck
man driving truck

working as a heavy equipment mechanic

If you enjoy working with machines and heavy equipment, a career as a heavy equipment mechanic could be right for you. Let’s explore the work environments, career prospects and daily tasks in the role.


heavy equipment mechanic skills and education

To become a heavy equipment mechanic in Canada, you need the following educational requirements:

  • Apprenticeship: start your career as a heavy equipment mechanic with a three to five-year apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs vary depending on the province or territory. For instance, in British Columbia, you can pursue the Heavy Duty Equipment Technician (HDET) apprenticeship program, which combines coursework and on-the-job training. To get a trade certification, completing an apprenticeship is a requirement.
  • Trade certification and licence: trade certification may be necessary or voluntary, depending on the specific province. For instance, it is compulsory in Alberta, and you can get a licence from the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industrial Training. In Quebec, trade certification is required to work in the construction industry. Instead of getting a licence for each province, you can take the Red Seal examination, which enables you to work in any province or territory.

competencies and characteristics of heavy equipment mechanics

Aside from trade certifications, you require the following skills to excel in the role:

  • Manual dexterity: as a heavy equipment mechanic, your primary role is to diagnose issues in equipment and repair them. Dexterity allows you to use various hand tools, including wrenches, hammers and power tools. Aside from hand dexterity, you need extra physical strength to move heavy machine parts during repairs.
  • Reporting skills: as a heavy equipment mechanic, you keep records of maintenance work and repairs. Your reporting skills help you maintain detailed records of the work done on particular equipment. During inspection, it is easy to determine if the machine is safe to operate when maintenance records are available. Keeping records also helps the company determine recurring problems and estimate the shelf life of equipment.
  • Proficiency in using computer systems: when diagnosing issues in heavy equipment, you rely on computerized diagnostic tools. Proficiency in using computer systems simplifies your work.
  • Teamwork skills: as a heavy equipment mechanic, you work alongside other mechanics to fix issues in machines. Teamwork skills help you collaborate with others. You also require solid communication skills to brainstorm ideas on how to resolve mechanical problems.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of heavy equipment mechanics.


meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.