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Heavy Equipment Technician

Duties

Heavy Equipment Technicians maintain, repair, and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial equipment.

Maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment may include:

  • internal combustion engines and components, both stationary and mobile
  • tracked equipment, commonly called crawler tractors
  • ground engaging equipment and components
  • earth moving equipment
  • rubber tired equipment, commonly called tractors
  • on-highway and off-highway motor vehicles, commonly called trucks
  • towed on-highway and off-highway vehicles, commonly called trailers

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

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.

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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 involved in working with heavy equipment and power tools. However, proper safety standards are maintained at all times.

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Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy achieving expertise with precise work, problem solving and working with their hands.

To be successful in the 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

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Employment and Advancement

Heavy equipment technicians are employed by specialized repair shops and organizations that own or lease heavy equipment used in the construction, mining, forestry, material handling, landscaping, land clearing, agriculture and transportation industries.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from$30 to $60 an hour plus benefits- rates vary depending on the region.

Experienced journeypersons may advance to supervisory or service manager positions, or become self-employed.

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Working in Alberta

To work as a Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a heavy equipment technician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Heavy Equipment Technician trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship.  Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the Prior Learning Assessment Online Application.  For more information, see the Prior Learning Assessment Online Guide.
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

  • satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
    Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates or technical school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice heavy equipment technicians earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson 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. Apprentices are generally required to provide their own basic hand tools.
    - apprentices may be required to provide a set of hand tools
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
    - select an educational institution that offers training for Heavy Equipment Technician apprentices, and a time to attend training
    - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrollment form to the selected institution
    - apprentices in the four-year program are able to enroll in the third or fourth period in either order 
  • successfully complete all required exams

Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.  Click here for more information.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information contact an Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

This trade participates in two Red Seal Programs: Heavy Equipment Technician-Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic (Off-road) and Heavy Equipment Technician-Truck and Transport Mechanic. See those trade profiles for details.

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Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.

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Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta Equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.

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