Focusing on topics related to diesel engine overhaul and electrical systems, certificate and degree programs offer classroom and laboratory instruction. While many aspiring professionals in the field gain on-the-job training, some choose to enroll in certificate or associate's degree programs in heavy equipment technology. Some certificate programs may be designed for the diesel engine specialist who has some prior knowledge of heavy equipment. Professional certifications are available to those who have some years of experience and are able to pass the skills examinations. The only prerequisites for the programs are a high school diploma or GED.
Heavy Equipment Technology Certificate Program
Certificate programs in heavy equipment technology are primarily offered through community and technical colleges. The vocational programs often require students to gain hands-on experience in troubleshooting and repairing mechanical problems with heavy machinery.
Some certificate programs in heavy equipment technology are designed for students who have limited educational background in the field and are interested in gaining an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic. Other such programs are slightly more advanced and designed for mechanics who are interested in learning more about heavy equipment maintenance and repair.
Courses in heavy equipment technology certificate programs are typically career-oriented, providing students with the knowledge and skills they will need to gain an entry-level position as a diesel mechanic. Some examples of practical courses include:
- Diesel engines
- Diesel electronic systems
- Diesel performance analysis
- Truck maintenance
- Heavy duty engine overhaul
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Associate's Degree Heavy Equipment Technology
Associate's degree programs in heavy equipment technology, such as the Associate of Science (A.S.) in Diesel Heavy Equipment Technology, Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Diesel Equipment Technology and A.A.S. in Heavy Construction Equipment Technology, contain very similar core courses as certificate programs in the field. Many schools provide both types of programs with overlapping core courses; however, students enrolled in a 2-year program are often required to complete some general education courses and spend more time in hands-on training classes. Some schools partner with local mechanic shops and allow students to begin training under seasoned professionals, where students learn first-hand how to diagnose, maintain, repair and rebuild diesel-powered equipment.
Associate's degree programs in heavy equipment technology often include more advanced courses on mechanical theories and procedures than do certificate programs in the field. Some examples include:
- Electric systems
- Power transmissions
- Welding theory and procedures
- Diesel engine theory and lab
- Practical application
- Heavy duty chassis
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers certification for diesel and heavy equipment mechanics (www. www.asecert.org). Professionals in the field can gain a general certification or can earn further designations in brakes, steering, electrical systems and truck inspection. The ASE requires individuals have a minimum two years of work experience and pass a multiple-choice question test before they can become certified.
Popular Career Options
Students who graduate from a certificate program in heavy equipment technology can go on to gain several positions once they complete an apprenticeship. Some available positions might include:
- Highway truck technician
- Construction equipment mechanic
- Hydraulics technician
- Marine craft technician
- Agricultural equipment mechanic
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists held about 251,750 jobs in the United States in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that these professionals primarily worked for freight trucking companies, automotive repair and maintenance shops, and local government agencies, and they earned an average hourly wage of about $22.17 in 2015. The BLS also mentioned that employment was expected to increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024 for diesel service mechanics, which is faster than the national average.
Earn a certificate or associate's degree in heavy equipment technology in two years or less, and enter a job market growing at 12% over the next decade. To improve your prospects, pursue professional certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.