Heavy Vehicle Technology: Associate, Bachelor & Online Degree Info

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Associate and bachelor's degrees related to heavy equipment technology can prepare you for careers in vehicle and mobile equipment technology. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your heavy equipment technology degree.
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Studying Heavy Vehicle Technology: Associate and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

With training in heavy vehicle technology, you could learn to sell, service, repair or maintain equipment used for trucking, construction, agriculture, power plants or railroads. Training might be provided by equipment manufacturers, or you can pursue postsecondary instruction at 2- or 4-year colleges. You may benefit from attending a program that's approved by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), which certifies training programs according to recommendations by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. Note that programs in heavy equipment technology are limited at the bachelor's level; however, programs in agricultural engineering incorporate studies in this subject.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 16% increase in heavy vehicle and equipment technician jobs from 2010-2020, which is slightly faster than the 14% projected job growth for all occupations. Opportunities may vary depending on the dominant industries in your area. The BLS also notes that those with formal training should expect to see the best job prospects.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want entry-level positions as heavy vehicle technicians People interested in heavy vehicle technology management opportunities
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Farm equipment mechanic ($38,000)*
- Fleet administrator ($40,000 - with 0-2 years of experience)*
- Truck and diesel engine specialist ($42,000)**
- Rail car repairer ($48,000)**
- Independent repair shop owner (salary unavailable)
- Electromechanical equipment field service representative ($49,000 - with 3-5 years of experience)*
- Fleet manager ($76,000 - with 7 years of experience)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Usually 60-70 credits - Approximately 120 credits
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma, GED or associate degree
Online Availability Online courses may be available Online courses may be available

Sources: *Salary.com (October 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate Degrees in Heavy Vehicle Technology

An associate degree program in heavy vehicle technology combines practical, hands-on experience and classroom training. You'll learn to use modern equipment, like electromechanical testing gear and diesel calibrators, in functional training shops. Keep in mind that some schools offer heavy technology training in the form of certificate programs, but these certificate credits are often applicable toward earning the school's Associate of Applied Science, as long as students meet the additional credit requirements. Upon completion of an associate degree, you may qualify for technician careers working with a range of heavy vehicles, like diesel trucks, construction machinery and mobile farm equipment.

Pros and Cons


  • Can qualify you for employment directly after graduation
  • May give you a competitive edge over heavy vehicle technicians with no formal training
  • Heavy vehicle technicians can work in a wide range of industries (government, construction, automotive, manufacturing, etc.)


  • Many positions require no degree or only a certificate
  • Associate of Applied Science degrees often do not transfer to Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs
  • May be required to provide your own tools for instruction
  • These workers often suffer high rates of injuries and illnesses

Courses and Requirements

Associate degree programs may include general education requirements in humanities, math and science in addition to core courses and electives in your field. Programs generally incorporate development of mechanical skills and computer diagnostic skills. You may learn about shop safety, as well as learning how to troubleshoot heavy-duty engines and electronics. You can expect to take courses in:

  • Diesel systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Transmissions
  • Vehicle frames and transmissions
  • Brakes
  • Diesel steering

Online Courses

The hands-on components of these degrees might make fully online programs hard-to-find. Various self-study, video and webinar training may be available through manufacturers or industry groups, like the Associated Equipment Distributors. Some organizations provide advanced technical or business management training. In a virtual course, you'll access materials online and submit work electronically.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Associate programs that train heavy vehicle technology may not require you to complete an internship, but doing so could help you gain additional practical experience and get your foot into the door of a company. You could pursue internship with local body shops and trucking companies. Additionally, after completing college, you could earn certification through a professional organization, like the ASE. Applicable ASE credentials include the Medium-Heavy Truck and Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist designations. Such certification requires passage of an exam, and some associate programs prepare you to sit for certification testing.

Bachelor's Degrees in Heavy Vehicle Technology

Though uncommon, bachelor's degrees are available in heavy vehicle and agricultural equipment technology. Although some management topics may be included, these are primarily hands-on, technical programs. You can learn to use sophisticated computer software and diagnostic tools to maintain and repair diesel-powered equipment. Similar subjects might also be addressed in some automotive, technology or industrial management 4-year curricula. This heavy vehicle or agricultural equipment technology degree could help you meet needs of agriculture, construction, over-the-road and off-road equipment firms using the sophisticated electronics of modern technology.

Pros and Cons


  • Some existing programs report high rates of placement of graduates
  • Graduates may be prepared for management positions
  • You may be competing with candidates who hold only associate degrees or no formal education


  • Hard-to-find bachelor's programs could require relocation for study
  • Management positions in heavy vehicle technology do not necessitate a bachelor's degree
  • Increased stress involved with supervisory positions

Courses and Requirements

Bachelor's programs related to heavy vehicle technology incorporate classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory work and internships. You will learn math and physical science concepts, and you 'll learn to use these concepts to test and repair sophisticated electrical systems, fuel injection systems, hydraulic systems, brakes, steering systems and power transmission systems. These programs might offer a choice of electives providing opportunities to specialize specific types of brands of equipment. Your coursework might include:

  • Heavy equipment maintenance
  • Troubleshooting strategies
  • Diesel fuel systems
  • Engine technology
  • Equipment testing and development

Online Courses

As with the associate program in this major, the hands-on nature of your technical work may make online completion impractical. Some colleges and universities allow you to complete general education coursework online, though you can expect to have to complete technical courses on campus.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

During college, you could augment your education by taking courses that teach you about the basic computer technology commonly used in the field. For example, heavy vehicle technicians often use database and record-management software as well as programs that let you manage maintenance tasks. You could also pursue advanced credentialing with the ASE, which offers Master Technician certification in topics like truck equipment and medium-heavy trucks. Candidates need to have at least two years of experience and must pass a series of examinations.

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