When farm machinery breaks down, agricultural mechanics are the ones to respond. They use diagnostic tools and their knowledge of equipment systems to diagnose and repair machines, as well as perform general maintenance.
Agricultural mechanics are professional farming technicians that deal with the maintenance and repair of cultivation machines. In addition, mechanics may test machine systems and troubleshoot problems if errors occur. While the majority of agricultural mechanics' employers only require a high school diploma, advanced work on heavier machines may require additional education. This job might appeal to individuals with interests in agriculture, mechanics, and transportation.
|Required Education||High school diploma; Some positions may require some post-secondary training|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||4% for all farm equipment mechanics and service technicians|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$40,630 annually for all farm equipment mechanics and service technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Agricultural mechanics are responsible for fixing tractors, combines and other farming implements. Often, mechanics use specialized skills and experience to locate and diagnose the machine's problem and then generate a cost-effective solution. In this endeavor, agricultural mechanics may use computer-aided systems to help troubleshoot and even repair the faulty part or parts. This position might include tasks ranging from working on an engine's electrical system or carburetor to welding cracked pipefittings.
These types of mechanics are responsible for a variety of tasks associated with the repair and maintenance of farming equipment. Generally, agriculture mechanics use tools to diagnose and then fix problems in a machine's systems. This step-by-step process may involve replacement of parts or upgrading of outdated components. In some instances, only a calibration or installation is required, such as equipping a chain to a chainsaw or calibrating a fertilizer dispensing system.
There are a few requirements for prospective agricultural mechanics entering the industry. Educationally, only a high school diploma is required for the majority of positions. Students should take physics, mathematics, and car repair courses while in high school to help facilitate transitioning into a job environment. Some high schools even offer cooperative education courses for gaining on-the-job experience.
A few positions that work with heavy machinery, such as tractors and combines, may require completion of a college program. These technical programs vary depending on what type of machine or component is involved. Automotive courses in diesel engine repair and heavy equipment systems are possible appropriate post-secondary paths for agricultural mechanics.
Some employers require a mechanic to have some repair experience under their belt before applying. Some high schools and technical colleges provide hands-on work experience for inexperienced students. In other instances, employers hire unskilled mechanics and make them work on menial tasks at first, then gradually move them into to more labor-intensive positions.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of farm equipment mechanics and service technicians is expected to grow slower than the average from 2018-2028, which is about average for all occupations. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $60,590 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $26,790 or less per year.
Agricultural maintenance technicians need to have an understanding of mechanics and heavy machinery in order to perform their duties. A high school diploma is sufficient for employment in most cases; however, jobs that involve work with heavy machinery might only be open to applicants who've completed a formal college training program. On-the-job training is the most common form of technical training agricultural maintenance technicians receive.