Farm Equipment Mechanics
Approximately 45,400 farm equipment mechanics and service technicians are employed in the United States. They work in all parts of the country, but there are more job opportunities in the "farm belt"—the Midwestern states, as well as in California, Texas, and Oklahoma. Work is available with independent repair and service businesses, large farm equipment sales companies, and large independent and commercial farms. Some mechanics are self-employed, running their own repair businesses in rural areas. Most independent repair shops employ fewer than five mechanics, while in dealers' service departments there may be 10 or more mechanics on the payroll.
Many people who become trainees in this field have prior experience in related occupations. They may have worked as farmers, farm laborers, heavy-equipment mechanics, automobile mechanics, or air-conditioning mechanics. Although people with this kind of related experience are likely to begin as helpers, their training period may be considerably shorter than the training for beginners with no such experience.
When looking for work, apply directly to local farm equipment dealers or independent repair shops. Graduates of vocational schools can often get help finding jobs through their schools' career services office. State employment service offices are another source of job leads, as well as a source of information on any apprenticeships that are available in the region.
After they have gained some experience, farm equipment mechanics employed by equipment dealers may be promoted to such positions as shop supervisor, service manager, and eventually manager of the dealership. Some mechanics eventually decide to open their own repair shops (about 2 percent of farm equipment mechanics are self-employed). Others become service representatives for farm equipment manufacturers. Additional formal education, such as completion of a two-year associate's degree program in agricultural mechanics or a related field, may be required of service representatives.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Join LinkedIn groups that specialize in farm equipment repair. They are excellent ways to learn about the industry, talk with fellow mechanics, and learn about job openings.
Land an entry-level job as a shop helper to learn about the field and make industry contacts.