Jan 13, 2023

Heavy Equipment Mechanic vs Diesel Mechanic: The Differences

Heavy Equipment Mechanic vs Diesel Mechanic: The Differences

Let’s say you’ve taken a close look at your career options and decided that becoming a lawyer is right for you. If that’s the case, congratulations! But we can’t help you get started, because this is a website about diesel repair shop software.

On the other hand, we’d be more than happy to give you some advice if you’re planning to become a mechanic. There’s a ton of demand for workers in the field, so you should have no trouble finding a nearby shop that’s looking for new employees. Better yet, that demand isn’t going anywhere. After all, supply chains will always need truck fleets, construction teams will always need heavy machinery, the public will always need emergency vehicles—you get the idea.

But before you start looking for a shop that will treat you well, you’ll need to make another big decision—whether you want to be a diesel tech or a heavy equipment tech. “Heavy equipment mechanic vs. diesel mechanic” can be an intimidating choice for anyone, so read on for our complete guide to both careers.

Diesel Mechanic

If you opt to become a diesel mechanic, you can plan on spending most of your time working on semis and other “standard” on-road trucks. Also, you’ll generally be fixing these vehicles in a shop setting (though we should point out that there are mobile diesel techs, too).

As of May 2021, the average annual pay for people in this career was $48,690. Most diesel technicians have a high school diploma and learn what they need to know on the job. Despite this, it’s crucial to understand that the field has become more complicated due to advancements in repair equipment technology and, in some cases, the vehicles themselves. Many employers now prefer hiring techs who have undergone post-secondary training or received industry certification.

The fixed location, standard repair work, and regularly scheduled preventive maintenance associated with diesel mechanic jobs may feel repetitive for some people. However, becoming a diesel tech is an excellent choice for those who appreciate the sense of structure this work provides.

(Plus, in a shop, you have easy access to a break room and functioning bathroom—luxuries that might not be readily available for off-road, heavy equipment work.)

And the field’s prospects are looking good—there were 293,200 American diesel technician jobs in 2021, and the projected growth rate for diesel technician jobs through 2031 is 4%. That’s nearly identical to the 5% average projected growth rate across all US careers.

Heavy Equipment Mechanic

Becoming a heavy equipment tech means you’ll be faced with a great deal of variety from one day to the next. You can specialize in all sorts of heavy equipment, like:

  • Construction equipment
  • Tractors
  • Forklifts
  • Mining equipment
  • Railway equipment
  • Container handlers
  • And more!

On top of that, heavy equipment techs are typically expected to go wherever their work takes them. After all, “heavy” is the operative word here; bulldozers (to name just one example) can weigh up to 180 tons! Instead of the bulldozer coming to you, you’ll have to go to it—in rain or shine, mud or snow, trenches or hills.

But while you might not always be working in ideal conditions, the sense of unpredictability can certainly make every day a new adventure for heavy equipment technicians. If you don’t mind forgoing the cold soda from the break room vending machine, this might be a great fit.

The average pay for heavy equipment technicians is slightly higher than (but still roughly comparable to) that of diesel technicians—it was measured as $53,770 in May 2021. Meanwhile, the projected growth rate through 2031 for this career is 8%, putting it a few percentage points above both the average projected growth rate and the projected growth rate for diesel mechanic jobs.

(On the other hand, there were 223,000 heavy equipment mechanic jobs in the US in 2021, so the field was slightly behind the number of diesel mechanic positions recorded at that point.)

Finally, most heavy equipment techs have at least a high school diploma. But as is the case for diesel techs, having some level of post-secondary training under your belt certainly can’t hurt these days.

How Fullbay Can Help

We hope all that gives you some food for thought when deciding between heavy equipment mechanic vs. diesel mechanic for your career. While the former option may have a slight edge in terms of raw numbers, both fields are highly viable right now and should continue to be for years to come.

Ultimately, your choice between these two jobs will come down to what you’re looking for in your professional life. If you’d prefer to focus on one type of vehicle while (mostly) staying in a single location, becoming a diesel mechanic can give you precisely what you’re looking for. However, you might prefer to work on different types of equipment in different places every day. In that case, looking into the heavy equipment field would be your best bet.

No matter what type of technician career you choose, you don’t have to do it alone. Find an employer with your best interest in mind—and a software package that can make your job easier. Fullbay takes the paperwork and busy work off your hands so you can focus on the tasks that really matter. Find out more by signing up for a free demo!

Emilie Vecera