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Heavy Equipment Technician - Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic (Off Road)

Duties

Heavy equipment technician - heavy duty equipment mechanics (off-road) maintain, repair and overhaul heavy vehicles and industrial heavy 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
  • off-highway motor vehicles, commonly called trucks
  • towed off-highway vehicles, commonly called trailers

In general, heavy equipment technicians must:

  • 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 - heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road) varies considerably from one job to another. Some heavy duty equipment mechanics (off-road) 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. 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 duty equipment mechanics (off-road) must have:

  • 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 duty equipment mechanics (off-road) are employed in specialized repair shops, large fleet maintenance companies, transportation companies and construction companies. In industries that are sensitive to economic changes, heavy duty equipment mechanics (off-road) may experience periods of unemployment.

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 duty equipment mechanic (off-road) 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 duty equipment mechanic (off-road) is 3 years (three 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 duty equipment mechanic (off-road) 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 apprenticeship representative toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
  • 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 online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment 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 - heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road) 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 duty equipment mechanics (off-road) earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, and 80 percent in the third year. Apprentices are generally required to provide their own basic hand tools.
    - apprentices are required to provide their own tools (costs range from $10,000 to $25,000)
  • 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 - heavy duty equipment mechanic (off-road) apprentices, and a time to attend training
    - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment 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
  • review books and materials required for training

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

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

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

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A heavy duty equipment mechanic who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

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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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