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A farm equipment mechanic is a highly skilled and trained technician who is called in by farmers and farm equipment dealers to perform repairs and regular maintenance on large and expensive pieces of machinery. As modern farms have grown in size, their need for complex machines capable of working hundreds of acres has grown as well. No longer working with just a simple till, modern farmers employ multiple tractors, each equipped with up to four hundred horse-powered engines. Along with large tractors, there are other expensive, complex machines like irrigation systems, combines, hay balers and many more.
Most farm equipment mechanics will work for a farm equipment dealer; they will work mostly in a shop and work on machines brought in for repair. During the planting and harvesting seasons, mechanics will be especially busy and they may be called out to a farm for emergency repairs. A mechanic will begin by assessing a damaged piece of farm equipment and then he or she will use their training and experience to discover what the problem is and take the necessary steps to repair the machine.
A farm equipment mechanic will have to have a thorough knowledge of the various machines used in the field such as planters, tillers, spray equipment, tractors, and machines used to milk cows. They will need to be able to take apart and rebuild these machines, be able to differentiate between working and nonworking parts, and know where to order the proper machine parts.
Farm equipment mechanics will also need to perform regular diagnostics on equipment to make sure that these expensive pieces of machinery are kept clean and well-oiled, so as to last the farmer as long as possible. Mechanics may also be called in to repair dents or scratches on the machines as well as other cosmetic concerns, and to service older models.
Most mechanics will work in well-lit, well-heated shops with up-to-date equipment. However, if a farm equipment mechanic works on the farm, the comfort level might be different. In peak seasons, the mechanic may have to travel to the farm and work outside in hot or cold weather. There may also be a large customer service component to being a mechanic, as customers will bring their machines to the shop for a repair or to buy new parts, and will often have questions that only the mechanic can answer.
Many farm equipment mechanics are self-employed, either working from their own garages or on farms. Since some form of farming takes place in so many different locations in the world, there is potential for a career as a farm equipment mechanic anywhere he or she may want to live.
Farm equipment mechanics need to have a solid grasp of the basics of engines, motors and repairs. They must also have experience working with basic hand tools as well as more complex equipment like torque wrenches, welders, and heavy power tools. A mechanic in this field will literally get their hands dirty and will come into contact with grease and other solutions; they may often have to spend a great deal of time on their feet, or they may have to lie on their backs under equipment for long periods of time. Mechanics in this field will also have to lift heavy objects and work with precision cutting tools and machines.
With the advent of more complex machines most farm equipment mechanics receive training at a one-to-two year vocational school or take one to two years of post-secondary education. However, they do not need to specialize in farm equipment repair; students can also study diesel mechanics and other heavy equipment managing, and then use those skills in their careers as a farm equipment mechanic. After completing their classes, most of the training will be completed on the job, learning from more experienced mechanics.