Becoming a Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta

Jan 8, 2020 | Blog

Do you have a love of all things trucks? Does watching an excavator lifting 10 Tons of earth without hesitating fill you with a sense of excitement? Do you find yourself taking things apart to see their inner workings or to try to fix them yourself? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a career as a Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta may be your calling. The road to becoming a certified journeyperson may seem long and daunting at first, but if you follow these simple steps, you will find yourself on the road to a new and exciting career that you’ll love. 

What to Expect?

Heavy Equipment Technicians diagnose, maintain and repair various types of heavy vehicles used in both on-highway and off-road applications. Examples include but are not limited to: highway tractors and trailers, buses, commercial vehicles, excavators and dozers. Technicians must be able to accurately diagnose and repair any faults that may arise such as engine and transmission faults, brake work, suspension and driveline components. 

Love the job 

The first question to ask when deciding whether or not to start an apprenticeship as a Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta is “is this career right for me?”. It’s not the type of career that most people just decide to do one day. It’s an interest and a passion that grows over time. Maybe right from childhood, you were under the car with Dad to see how things work, or maybe you were just fascinated by big trucks in general. No matter how the passion was created, having a love for the field is important before diving in. Although it is not a requirement, a person with a history of mechanical knowledge and a hands-on approach to life will tend to be more successful. 

Required Skills

Although you will be trained throughout your apprenticeship to become a master of the trade, it is important to go into this with some basic skills that will help you succeed. Things like teamwork skills, strength & stamina to keep up with the demands of the job, a good sense of sight, hearing and smell to aid you in diagnosing problems and good attention to detail are all important skills when it comes to being a Heavy Equipment Technician. Heavy Equipment Technicians should be able to stand for long periods of time and be capable of lifting heavy loads. With today’s ever-evolving technologies, Heavy Equipment Technicians must also possess basic computer skills and have an aptitude for electrical diagnostics and repair. 

Working Conditions

A Heavy Equipment Technician in Alberta must be capable of heavy lifting and be able to stand for long periods of time. Good manual dexterity is a bonus for reaching into cramped and awkward spaces. Typically, mechanics work in heated shop environments, however, depending on the fleet you’re working on, it is not uncommon to find yourself on the side of the highway on a service call, or out in the field tending to a breakdown. It’s important that you understand all the possible working conditions and be sure it’s something you can work with. 

Where do you start?  

Once you are convinced that a career as a Heavy Equipment Technician is for you, then you are ready to start planning how you are going to get hired as an apprentice. There are two main ways to get started in an apprenticeship in Alberta. First, if you are a high school student, you may earn time towards your apprenticeship while earning high school credits through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). If you are no longer a high school student and are no longer eligible for the RAP, you must apply through Alberta Trade secrets in order to become registered. 

What to expect after being registered as an apprentice

After getting registered in either of the two programs we listed above, you’ll need to complete the following in order to become a certified Red Seal Journeyperson. 

  • 3 years in an apprenticeship program, including 1500 hours of on the job training and 8 weeks of technical training per year.
  • Meet the entry requirements or pass the entrance exam 
  • Pay a non-refundable fee as part of your apprenticeship
  • Find an employer who will hire and train you as an apprentice

How much should you expect to earn 

Alberta boasts some of the highest mechanic wages within Canada. There is ample opportunity throughout the province to earn top dollar depending on skill and experience. As a general rule, apprentices can expect to make the following wages compared to a certified Journeyperson; 

  • 1st-year apprentice earns at least 60 percent of the certified journeyperson 
  • 2nd-year apprentice earns at least 70 percent of the certified journeyperson 
  • 3rd-year apprentice earns at least 80 percent of the certified journeyperson 
  • 4th-year apprentice earns at least 90 percent of the certified journeyperson 

It’s important to keep in mind that mechanics are expected to purchase and provide their own tools required to work in the trade. Even though as an apprentice you will be making good money, you will be required to invest some of this money back into your career.

Is there a high demand for Heavy Equipment Technicians in Alberta?

As long as there are trucks on the highways, there will be a need for Heavy Equipment Technicians in Alberta and everywhere else. Working this trade comes with its own set of challenges but it is also very rewarding. There is a huge sense of pride that comes with watching a vehicle drive out of the shop knowing that it was your skills and abilities that made it possible. 

At Overdrive Heavy Duty, we understand the importance of starting your career off on the right foot and we know that learning from highly-trained technicians is a good start. If you’ve begun your Apprenticeship and are looking for a great team to work within Bonnyville, Alberta, then drop by with a resume. We may just have a position for you.