What Is A HD Mechanic and How Do You Become One?

What Is A HD Mechanic and How Do You Become One?

The mining industry continues to thrive in Australia. Thus, HD mechanic jobs also continue to be in very high demand.  

Do you love working with your hands? Do you enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together? Have you always had a fascination with heavy equipment? If so, a career in heavy diesel mechanics could lead to a lucrative mining career. 

In WA in particular, HD Mechanics are highly sought after, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for you to earn some decent cash. The mining industry allows you to work on some gigantic equipment, like the LeTourneau L-2350 – the world’s biggest wheel loader!

HD Mechanics also usually keep a consistent schedule and routine, with opportunities to progress your career as you develop more experience. Additionally, HD mechanics generally do not have extensive paperwork responsibilities but instead spend the majority of their time on hands-on projects. 

What does a HD Mechanic do?

Working as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic you will work on a range of heavy mobile equipment such as excavators, dump trucks, shovels, dozers, graders and loaders. You may carry out breakdown service and repair work for heavy mobile equipment both in the field or pit and in a workshop.

Some other duties include;

  • Service heavy diesel engine vehicles, including preventative or routine maintenance and repairs.
  • Dismantle and remove engine assemblies, transmissions, steering mechanisms and other components.
  • Diagnose and service a variety of hydraulic system.
  • Diagnose and test parts using advanced diagnostic technology.

What skills do I need to become a FIFO HD Mechanic with Schlam?

Besides from the obvious HD Mechanic Trade Qualification, you will also need:

  • Valid Driver’s Licence
  • High-Risk Licence
  • National Police Check

Depending on the role you are applying for, whilst it is desirable but not essential, experience on Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi, Liebherr, Atlas Copco, and other common HME can put you in good stead for a FIFO role.

 There are also a few critical soft skills to refine too, such as;

  •  Analytic abilities: While you will rely on diagnostic tools to help you in your job, many problems will require you to take a step back and evaluate the entire picture of what’s happening in the engine at any given time.  
  •  Attention to Detail: Trucks and heavy equipment are complex pieces of machinery. A good diesel mechanic will need to have an eye for detail when dealing with engines and their parts
  •  Willingness to learn: Ongoing training is essential for keeping up with changes to engines and the technology that run them.

How much do HD mechanics make?

An experienced HD Mechanic with 5+ years of experience could be earning between $160,000-$220,000 per year. At Schlam, HD mechanics can make up to $87 an hour + Super based on their experience. 

What does the career progression look like?

The progression of an HD mechanic career is usually upward. You may also move to a management position if you have the necessary qualifications. If you do, you will be less hands-on with the machines.

 How do you become an HD Mechanic?

To become a Heavy Diesel Mechanic in Australia, you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain on-the-job experience. The pathway is similar to that taken to become a Diesel Mechanic, Light Vehicle Mechanic or Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanic; however, you will need to complete your apprenticeship with a company that specialises in heavy vehicles.

 Consider enrolling in a pre-apprenticeship course, such as the CERTIFICATE II IN AUTOMOTIVE SERVICING TECHNOLOGY When looking to start your apprenticeship, an APPRENTICESHIP NETWORK PROVIDER or Group Training Organisation in your area can help you find a host employer with a mining focus. The apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete. 

At the core, you will need to complete a CERTIFICATE III IN MOBILE PLANT TECHNOLOGY to become a qualified HD Mechanic. It is worth noting that you have to be over 18+ to work FIFO.  Another career pathway option is to complete a CERTIFICATE III IN LIGHT VEHICLE MECHANICAL TECHNOLOGY, and gain the necessary hands-on experience. Once you’ve established your career, you can pursue a Schlam TRADE-UP PROGRAM just like Schlam employee, Brad, has recently done.

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