Pros and Cons of Being a Bulldozer Mechanic
Like any type of machinery, bulldozers need routine maintenance in addition to unscheduled repairs to operate properly. You can take a closer look at some of the upsides and downsides of being a bulldozer mechanic by reading below.
|Pros of a Bulldozer Mechanic Career|
|Career training can be completed on the job*|
|Compensation often includes benefits like health insurance and vacation pay**|
|Skills are transferable to positions as automotive and diesel service technicians*|
|Working on large and complex machinery can be personally rewarding***|
|Cons of a Bulldozer Mechanic Career|
|Indoor work settings can be noisy, while outdoor settings can expose mechanics to the elements**|
|Extensive travel to job sites could be required*|
|Job risks include the possibility of cuts, burns and other injuries*|
|Overtime as well as weekend and evening shifts are common*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **iseek.org, ***Western Pennsylvania Operating Engineers.
Essential Career Information
Bulldozer mechanics are also known as mobile equipment service technicians or heavy equipment mechanics. In addition to bulldozers, professionals who work in this field are familiar with such construction equipment as excavators, paving machines and graders.
As a bulldozer mechanic, your day-to-day routine could include performing oil changes and cleaning parts. When a bulldozer or other piece of equipment breaks down, you'll work with operators to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs. These can be undertaken either in a repair shop or out at a construction site. You might find yourself working with such components as air-conditioning, electrical or hydraulic systems. You could be tasked with rebuilding engines as well. Other job duties include completing work orders to keep track of expenses associated with labor and parts.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that mobile heavy equipment mechanics made an average salary of roughly $48,000 as of May 2014. Bulldozer mechanics who were in the top ten percent of wage estimates earned upwards of $68,000 or more a year. If you're willing to relocate, you'll find the top paying states for bulldozer mechanics were Illinois, Nevada, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and Alaska.
The BLS projected an average 10% job growth for mobile heavy equipment mechanics between 2012 and 2022. This was due to a growing population's need for the construction of new residential and commercial structures as well as roads and bridges.
Career Skills and Requirements
To qualify for a job as a bulldozer mechanic, you'll generally need at least a high school diploma or GED. While you're in high school, math, computer technology or even auto repair classes can help prepare you for work in this field.
Once you've been hired as an entry-level bulldozer mechanic, you'll progress through an on-the-job training period that entails completing tasks of increasing complexity. This process can last 3-4 years if you only have a high school diploma. You'll could also participate in 1-week manufacturer training programs.
Top Skills and Abilities
Physical strength and endurance are important traits for bulldozer mechanics. Not only can mobile equipment components be heavy, you'll also spend a great deal of time on your feet, on your back or bent in awkward positions to reach certain parts. Other essential traits include the manual dexterity and technical know-how needed to work with such tools as impact wrenches, welding equipment, breaker bars or screwdrivers. Diagnostic and problem-solving abilities as well as an attention to detail are also key.
What Employers Are Looking For
According to recent job posts, some of the most common requirements for bulldozer mechanics were a high school diploma and anywhere from 1-10 years of experience. Other qualifications included an ability to use work order and inventory tracking software. Take a look at some April 2012 job posts to learn what employers were looking for:
- A heavy equipment mechanic position in Georgia called for an applicant with a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver's license and at least one year of experience. Applicants with fabrication or welding skills and a certificate from a formal training program were preferred.
- In Alabama, an opening for a heavy equipment field mechanic required applicants to have between five and ten years of experience. They would also need to provide their own tools.
- An engineering and construction firm in the defense industry was looking for a heavy equipment mechanic to fill a position in Georgia. Applicants needed a high school diploma and at least three years of experience.
Standing Out in the Field
The BLS reports that many employers prefer job applicants with a certificate or associate's degree in a field such as diesel and heavy equipment repair. Completing one of these vocational school or community college programs could give you an edge over the competition, since you'll be prepared to take on an entry-level position with less on-the-job training. These programs' laboratory and lecture courses cover such topics as fuel injection, brake, transmission and electrical systems. Some programs include additional topics in welding and engine machining.
Alternative Career Choices
Industrial Machinery Mechanics
If you're looking for a job with a more favorable employment outlook and a higher average salary, consider training to become an industrial machinery mechanic. You'll need to complete a 1- or 2-year training program before you're qualified for one of these positions, but the prospect of entering a job field expected to experience a faster-than-average job growth of 22% between 2010 and 2020 could make this a worthwhile investment of your time. Additionally, the BLS reported that these professionals made around $48,000 a year, on average, as of May 2011.
Automotive Service Technician
If you'd rather work with cars instead of bulldozers, consider becoming an automotive service technician instead. You can still receive training for this career on the job, though many employers prefer applicants who've completed an automotive technology certificate or associate's degree program. The employment outlook for this field is comparable to that of bulldozer mechanics; an average 17% increase in employment opportunities was projected through the reporting decade. However, you might earn less as an auto mechanic. As of May 2011, automotive service technicians and mechanics made average salaries of around $39,000, according to the BLS.