Become an earth-moving equipment mechanic with these easy steps

Earth-moving equipment mechanics specialize in the mechanical work required on heavy machinery used for construction work

Image: 123RF/Oleg Yermolov.

They perform routine maintenance on the machinery and, if an operator reports a fault, search for its cause.

Equipment is first inspected to see whether the problem can easily be detected. If not, the mechanic partially dismantles the engine to check parts for damage or excessive wear. The necessary repairs are then made, which may also require the organisation of replacement parts.

They also repair or replace various fuel systems and need to be able to maintain and repair all these systems. Sometimes, specific parts have to be manufactured or adjustments made to the machine. In such instances, it is up to the mechanic to design the part to be manufactured.

Micrometers, tachometers and engine dynamometers, as well as transmission dynamometers are used for this purpose. Earth-moving equipment mechanics are responsible for looking after all the parts and components of the construction equipment, including the tyres, mechanical components, hydraulic systems, power shift transmissions, electrical and fuel systems.

The work involves travelling at times, as some of the earth-moving equipment is on site or in rural areas. Otherwise the work is usually carried out indoors in workshops.

Watch the video to learn more:

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects: Grade 9 certificate and some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to study

Diploma: N.Dip: Mechanical Engineering - UNISA, CPUT, CUT, DUT, TUT, VUT

There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools.

They are also exposed to a practical workshop component. All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.


  • Companies that sell and service earth-moving equipment
  • Large earth-moving contractors
  • Large construction companies
  • Large civil engineering firms
  • The irrigation machine industry
  • Tractor manufacturers
  • Government departments
  • Self-employment; with enough experience and capital, can start own business

Getting started

  • Contact earth-moving companies who often seek learners with N3 or Grade 12 Mathematics and Science
  • Speak to an earth-moving equipment mechanic about this type of career

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