Becoming an Emergency Vehicle Technician: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an emergency vehicle technician career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary info to see if becoming an emergency vehicle technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as an Emergency Vehicle Technician

Emergency vehicle technicians (EVTs) are diesel service technicians who specialize in vehicles such as fire trucks, ambulances, SWAT trucks, and mobile investigation units. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Review the pros and cons before you make a decision.

Pros of a Career as an Emergency Vehicle Technician
Job field is expected to see faster than average growth from 2014-2024*
Many employers require only a high school diploma***
Training programs can be completed in 1-2 years**
Training prepares you for a variety of jobs*

Cons of a Career as an Emergency Vehicle Technician
Injury rate is much higher than the national average*
Changing technology means you may have to continually update your education and pay for it out of your own pocket*
Certification needs to be renewed every few years****
Work can be physically demanding***
Some jobs require you to own your own hand tools***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Central Lakes College, ***Job Postings, **** Automotive Service Excellence.

Career Info

Emergency vehicle technicians work to keep vehicles in shape so they can be trusted to perform when they're needed. EVTs follow inspection checklists that help them to examine every system of the truck to ensure it's working properly. They replace parts that are old or showing signs of excessive wear or damage. They also perform routine maintenance - check the oil, battery and tire pressure, etc. - and test-drive the trucks so they can experience for themselves how the truck is running. EVTs need to understand multiple systems - exhaust, brake and electrical, for example - and complex parts, such as the engine.

Job Prospects and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not provide information on emergency vehicle technicians, but they predicted that the diesel service engine technician career field would grow about 12% from 2014 through 2024. The median wage for professionals in that area is about $43,630, as of May 2014.

Requirements for EVTs

Education

EVTs typically need to complete a postsecondary program - leading to a diploma or an associate's degree - in order to work in the field. These programs prepare them for an entry-level position, which then provides them with further on-the-job training. This training usually lasts 3-4 years, after which they are considered a journey-level mechanic who has enough experience and knowledge to work independently and on more complex jobs. Some employers occasionally send workers to training classes to learn about new technologies.

After they've accrued a certain amount of on-the-job experience, candidates can pursue certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE provides certification test preparation programs and exams for EVTs (and other automotive workers), which demonstrates to employers and customers that they are equipped with the training and knowledge necessary to work correctly on a particular type of vehicle. EVTs may also have to secure a special driver's license that allows them to operate diesel vehicles.

Top Skills

Beyond having to understand how to work on emergency vehicles, EVTs need a variety of mental and physical skills to perform their job well. They need good troubleshooting, critical thinking and problem solving skills to help them diagnose and fix issues. Customer service skills are necessary; EVTs need to actively listen when clients state their concerns and then communicate as they explain a procedure that may be necessary.

Technical skills and physical dexterity are also important. Physical strength to lift heavy equipment and parts, good eyesight to be able to study small things closely and sensitive hearing to be able to perceive changes in pitch help with many duties EVTs must perform. Finally, being physically coordinated and steady-handed will often come in handy.

Live Job Postings

In April 2012, there were very few jobs posted online for EVTs. There were, however, a number of postings for candidates who held EVT certification. Employers were seeking candidates who had their own tools and were available for swing shifts. Below are a few examples of the available positions:

  • A city in Oklahoma was looking for a fire apparatus mechanic who would be able to maintain and repair a variety of trucks, hydraulic equipment, fire pumps/engines and other heavy equipment. The employer wanted someone with effective communication skills and a strong sense of initiative and the ability to work and make decisions independently.
  • A government-run company in Texas was looking for a water pump vehicle mechanic who had at least two years of water pump and fire suppression system maintenance experience. The job involved installing water pumps and fire suppression systems on military vehicles.
  • A city in North Carolina was looking for an automotive technician who would be able to perform maintenance and inspections on different types of equipment and vehicles. The ideal candidate would be skilled in communication, able to read diagrams and sketches in order to make repairs and have both EVT and Truck Mechanic certification from ASE.
  • A town in Montana had an opening for a mechanic who had prior experience with various systems (hydraulic, brake, transmission, suspension and others) and either had or would acquire a commercial driver's license. The job included performing maintenance and repairs.

Making Your Resume Stand Out

While there are some positions that allow you to work without postsecondary training (especially if you attended a trade high school where you studied as a mechanic), employers may look for candidates who have a postsecondary degree or diploma. Some employers may want their employees to have multiple ASE certifications; consider sitting not only for the EVT exam but also for the heavy truck exam.

Alternative Career Choices

Not quite convinced that being an EVT is right for you? Consider one of these similar careers that can also take advantage of your skills and interests.

Automotive Repair Mechanic

The job description of an automotive repair mechanic is similar to that of an EVT, but the cars and trucks that these professionals work on do not typically run on diesel and have more sophisticated electronic and digital systems. There are a number of specializations within this field, including tune-up technician, brake repairer, front-end mechanic and transmission technician. The job growth outlook is marginally better than that of EVTs - around 17% from 2010-2020 - although the pay was somewhat lower at a median of close to $36,000 as of 2011.

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technician

At the other end of the spectrum are heavy vehicle/mobile equipment service techs. They work on farm equipment, construction equipment and other larger vehicles. There are three specializations: farm equipment mechanic, mobile heavy equipment mechanic and rail car repairer. The field is expected to increase about 16% from 2010 through 2020, but the pay varies quite a bit from one specialization to the other - median salaries as of 2011 were around $34,000, $46,000 and $48,000, respectively.

Small Engine Mechanic

Small engine mechanics work on motorized power equipment. Specialization titles in this field include motorboat and marine equipment mechanic, motorcycle mechanic and outdoor power equipment repairer. This work can be slightly more difficult, as some adjustments are very small and require close work and a great deal of precision. This field is expected to grow 21% through this decade - faster than average - but the pay is among the lowest of all the alternate careers listed here. Outdoor power equipment mechanics (along with other small engine mechanics) earned a median of about $30,000 as of 2011, per the BLS. The same source noted that boat engine mechanics made about $36,000 in that same year.

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Purdue University Global

  • MS in Nursing
  • Bachelor: Fire and Emergency Management
  • AAS in Public Safety and Security

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Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Leadership Studies

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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College of Health Care Professions

  • Medical Assistant-Certificate

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Abilene Christian University

  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

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The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences

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University of the Southwest

  • MBA Healthcare Administration

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