As a heavy vehicle mechanic, Michael Jones is part of a team that keeps a fleet of 45 trucks in service.
Job description: Michael carries out both service work and repair work on large garbage trucks. He does everything from welding, engine rebuilds and suspension work through to hydraulics and electrical work.
Subjects studied: Maths (Methods), Physics, VET Automotive, English, Mechanics
Further training: Year 3 of a 4 year apprenticeship, Heavy Mechanics
Salary: $20,000 and overtime
Michael is doing his apprenticeship with an environmental waste company. As one of the heavy vehicle mechanics, he shares responsibility for ensuring the company's fleet of over 45 trucks is kept in top shape and is able to make their rounds.
Because most rubbish is collected early in the morning, Michael spends the first part of each day undertaking routine services or repairing trucks that are off the road for repairs. Once the trucks come back to the depot, Michael is kept busy fixing any problems the driver may have noticed or undertaking regular maintenance tasks.
Michael says that one of the most exciting parts of his job is diagnosing and fixing electrical problems. "All of our new trucks are very computerised. For example, the engine management means I have to look at computer controls. In fact, sometimes we have to send tracks back to the manufacturer who has the equipment to undertake diagnostic tests on the vehicle. This means I have to keep my skills up with extra courses".
Another interesting part of his work that a regular mechanic wouldn't deal with is installing and maintaining the onboard cameras. Each truck has four cameras attached, which allow the driver to see what's happening around him when making collections. Michael also gets to do a bit of welding and wiring as the company purchases the chassis and builds the body of the truck in-house.
All of this makes for a very diverse job description, which Michael loves. "I'm always learning new skills. Everything from mechanics to spray painting and panel beating. The hours can be long and sometimes I have to stay back until I finish a job so the truck can go out the next day, but that's the only real downside to my job."
Working as a heavy vehicle mechanic also opens up a range of pathways as you can find employment in any industry, from mining to agriculture and everything in between, that uses large vehicles. And with a greater need for heavy vehicle mechanics than car mechanics, there will always be work available, and loads of travel opportunities.
Michael is still assessing his long term options, but does have this to say to anyone who is considering a career in his field: "I recommend finishing Year 12. Even though you don't need to, it gives you greater options down the track if you want to change your career path or progress within a company. It also gives you more maturity, which you need when you are working."
Heavy vehicle motor mechanics repair, maintain and test heavy vehicles, other engines and related mechanical components.
Heavy vehicle motor mechanics may perform the following tasks:
- Diagnose, overhaul, repair, tune, maintain and test diesel and petrol/gas-powered vehicles, including trucks, buses, bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment, tractors, stationary engines (e.g. generators, pumps, compressors and drilling rigs) and agricultural machinery
- Detect mechanical and electrical faults by using instruments that check charging and starting circuitry, batteries, ignition and ignition timing, fuel injection systems and speed control, cylinder compression, engine condition, braking efficiency, and wheel balance and alignment
- Repair and maintain the hydraulic components of diesel and petrol/gas engines that are used to power attachments such as hoists, booms, scrapers, buckets and augers
- Use oxy, electric, TIG and MIG welding, hand fitting or machining processes to replace or repair faulty parts
- Enjoy practical and manual work
- Mechanical aptitude
- Good at mathematics
- Physically fit
- No skin allergies or reactions to grease, oil or petrol
Find out more about a career as a heavy vehicle mechanic:
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).