Guide to Becoming an AG Mechanic

Guide to Becoming an AG Mechanic

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Agriculture and farming are essential to growing and sustaining society. As a community, we rely on farmers to grow our food and raise livestock. Many farms rely on heavy machinery to complete their work, which requires the skill of professional mechanics to maintain and repair their equipment. Without these machines or people to work on them, farmers wouldn't be able to grow crops or raise livestock at their usual rate, affecting our food supply and the farmers livelihood.

If you enjoy working with your hands, or have mechanical experience and are looking for a career change, becoming an agricultural (AG) mechanic could be an ideal choice. Below, we'll explain what a farm mechanic is, what they do, their roles and responsibilities and how you can start your career as a farm equipment technician.

What Is an AG Mechanic?

Ag mechanics improve farming techniques by testing machine systems, troubleshooting problems, repairing machines and maintaining equipment to help farmers work more efficiently.

An agriculture service technician primarily works on heavy farm and agriculture equipment, including fertilization equipment, tractors and farming implements. Ag mechanics improve farming techniques by testing machine systems, troubleshooting problems, repairing machines and maintaining equipment to help farmers work more efficiently. A farm equipment technician will typically work on compact tractors, utility tractors, combines, hay balers, swathers/windrowers, and any other equipment used on the farm. From hauling crops, to fertilizing the soil, Ag mechanics have a unique skillset to work on and operate agricultural equipment. Ag mechanics can work as first- or third-party employees or contractors. These employees may:

  • Work on a single farm and provide repairs and maintenance for all farming equipment.
  • Provide repairs within a third-party agriculture heavy-equipment shop
  • Travel between various farms to provide repair and maintenance help

With so many possibilities, a career as an Ag mechanic can be incredibly fulfilling, especially if you enjoy working with your hands on the farm. 

Some Ag technicians work with multiple clients, checking in on different farms on a consistent schedule. Multi-farm technicians may visit their clients regularly if requested to visit in between regular scheduling. Some mechanics can even work at independent shops where farmers can bring their equipment in for repairs, allowing them to work without creating contracts beyond those for individual repairs.

All the options available for an Ag mechanic make it an ideal career choice for those that enjoy flexibility, various opportunities and hands-on work. If you're interested in a career as an Ag mechanic, continue reading to learn more about what they do and their responsibilities on the job.

What Do AG Mechanics Do?

Ag technicians will have various responsibilities to fulfill their roles. Some of the responsibilities of an AG mechanic include the following:

1. Researching and Understanding Various Equipment Operations

Farm equipment technician duties and responsibilities include understanding their clients' equipment and operation. Typically, they'll read instruction manuals and research the equipment design documents to better understand how the equipment works. This research stage can happen during their training or before performing maintenance or repairs. 

Agriculture technicians develop a deep understanding of equipment's braking options, electrical systems, air compression tools, hydraulic setups, fuel line designs and mechanical arm operations. Continuing education and regular research help Ag mechanics fully understand their equipment and any necessary upgrades they need to make to help equipment stay operational and reach its peak efficiency on a farm. 

2. Performing Essential Maintenance Steps

Another responsibility of Ag mechanics is performing equipment maintenance to minimize long-term problems that can cause significant damage and increase costs. These technicians may provide steps for maintenance, including equipment cleaning, identifying moving parts, checking these parts of lubrication and fixing any other significant problems they may notice. 

For example, an AG mechanic may remove broken gears, replace engine belts and repair minor scuffs caused by regular operation. These maintenance steps are essential to prevent minor problems from worsening. If maintenance is done on a regular schedule, it can potentially extend the life of the equipment. Adding extra years to the life of your equipment will help you save money by pushing back the need to buy a new machine.

3. Repairing Malfunctioning Farm Equipment

On top of maintenance, a farm equipment mechanic is responsible for repairing farm or agriculture equipment. An Ag technician inspects the equipment visually and with technical assistance. Similar to cars, modern farming equipment is built with advanced technology which mechanics can hook up to a diagnostic tool to run tests and gauge the efficiency and operation of a piece of equipment. Ag technicians can verify these readings through visual inspections, identifying problem areas and making repairs.

When completing repairs, an AG mechanic may use various tools, including pliers, lathes, pneumatic wrenches, welding equipment, blowtorches and screwdrivers, to repair equipment and ensure it runs smoothly.

4. Upgrading Outdated Equipment

Over time, farm equipment will become old and could become outdated in the evolving industry. Ag mechanics will help farmers by removing older components and replacing them with newer parts. 

For example, an Ag technician may replace the dull, outdated teeth on a combine header with newer, more compatible teeth that cut crops more efficiently and effectively. During these replacements, an Ag mechanic usually takes apart machinery and puts it back together, especially when upgrading engine components, hydraulic tools or electrical systems. Regular updates can keep farming equipment operational longer than their usual life span and help farmers save money by reducing the need to spend on equipment replacements.

5. Giving Advice for Equipment Upgrades

Most farmers will want to replace their outdated equipment with something newer and stronger but may need help making the right purchasing decision. Ag technicians can help with this by advising on what models work best for a particular job on a farm. 

For example, an Ag mechanic will research a replacement for a specific type of equipment, determining the advantages and disadvantages and how well the equipment would work for the farmer. Once they've completed their research, they can advise a farmer on what equipment to purchase. Ag technicians may even discuss the repair needs for new prospective equipment to help farmers better understand their new investment. 

6. Providing Reports or Logs for Each Repair or Maintenance Job

Ag mechanics are also responsible for providing detailed reports or logs for each maintenance and repair job they complete. These logs are essential to keep track of their work and provide clients with information regarding their responsibilities. 

For example, an Ag technician may share reports after a maintenance and repair job, indicating what tools they used, the tool costs, the exact steps taken during the job, the duration of each stage, the total work hours and the maintenance or repair result. Ag technicians may keep track of these logs for years to give their clients accurate information about each job. 

How to Become an AG Mechanic

How to Become an AG Mechanic. If you want to become an Ag service technician, there are a few steps that you have to follow.

If you want to become an Ag service technician, there are a few steps that you have to follow:

1. Meet the Education Requirements

The first step to becoming a farm equipment mechanic involves completing the education requirements. Most farm or mechanic shops will hire Ag mechanics with a high school diploma or GED, so you can become an Ag mechanic fresh out of high school or after going through a GED program.

You can also choose to attend community college or vocational schools with programs in heavy equipment mechanics, diesel repair, electronic and computer operations or diagnostics if you want to give yourself a competitive edge in the hiring process. However, post-secondary education isn't a requirement, and many Ag mechanics are hired fresh after high school graduation. You'll often receive the necessary training and educational tools while working on the job or through a program a farm or mechanic shop offers, so you won't need the additional schooling if you prefer to jump right into the field.

2. Receive On-the-Job Training

Once you've finished your education, you'll want to look for on-the-job training opportunities. Many trades, including mechanics, typically use an apprentice-style system to help workers learn the necessary skills on the job. When individuals are hired after they've fulfilled their education requirements, they may perform simple repairs, such as changing air filters or fuel lines. 

As you gain more experience on the job, your employer may introduce new responsibilities and training opportunities for repair components. Being a quick learner is an important quality of a good Ag technician, which can help you complete the training process quickly and start working on the job.

3. Attend Training Sessions

Depending on the farm or shop you work at, you may be sent to additional training opportunities to improve your abilities. These training sessions often focus on specific technology and components, such as tractor models and unique fertilizing equipment. During these training opportunities, you may receive hands-on experience working with particular equipment, helping you to progress as an Ag mechanic. 

Some states may allow you to receive certification in specific repair techniques. Certifications depend on the type of equipment and can increase your chances of finding a high-quality career.

What Skills Are Needed for AG Mechanics?

As Ag mechanics work, they'll develop many unique skills that can help them improve their careers. Many of these skills can be improved with practice and educational training, helping you advance your career. By improving your ability to handle your responsibilities, technicians can continue to provide high-quality and accurate repairs. Some of the skills that an Ag mechanic needs to develop and focus on improving include the following:

  • Mechanical skills: Farm equipment mechanic skills include professional mechanical repair skills to repair agriculture equipment. These skills include understanding how to remove and reassemble parts and equipment design. 
  • Manual dexterity: Performing maintenance and repairs requires skilled dexterity and a steady hand to handle diagnostic tools, engine parts and other tools. Aspiring Ag mechanics can improve their dexterity with regular practice with their tools. 
  • Organizational skills: Farm equipment technician duties include organizational skills, which are essential for Ag mechanics to hone. Working with mechanics can consist of complex designs that Ag technicians must understand when performing maintenance or repairs on various equipment types. Understanding how to organize these items is essential to help Ag technicians keep their responsibilities in order.
  • Physical strength: Ag mechanics skills include some physical strength to handle tools, remove parts and steer heavy equipment while taking them to the shop. AG mechanics can improve their physical force on the job or with exercise.
  • Problem-solving skills: Various types of farm equipment can develop unique problems, and Ag mechanics need problem-solving skills to diagnose mechanic issues. These skills can be improved by additional education or internships at relevant mechanical shops. 

If you want to improve your abilities as an Ag mechanic, you can look for entry-level positions or work with other mechanical repairs, such as trucks, cars and other small vehicles. While many types of farm or agriculture vehicles will vary in design and size from these vehicles, the overall maintenance and repair process is similar, which can help you develop your skills.

What Is the Work Environment Like for an AG Mechanic?

During these busy seasons, Ag mechanics can work between 8 to 12 hours a day, earning overtime wages if they go over 40 hours a week.

Ag mechanics have the opportunity to work in various environments depending on their exact role. Most Ag technicians work on farms and perform maintenance and repairs on equipment after damage occurs, such as engine trouble, fuel system difficulties, and electrical system issues. 

If Ag mechanics are employed on a single farm, they could have a small repair shop or office where they perform maintenance and repairs. Other mechanics with multiple clients may utilize haulers to take their equipment to a repair shop. They may also operate a repair truck when equipment is too large to move or if it's incapable of running. Ag mechanics that work on multiple farms usually travel from each farm to provide repairs on-site.

Some other things you can expect when working as an Ag mechanic include the following:

  • Spending time outdoors on the farm
  • Handling lifting equipment
  • Working on advanced technological and electrical systems

Farm work hours vary based on the season. Some Ag mechanics will work full-time depending on the season, usually during harvest or planting. During these busy seasons, Ag mechanics can work between 8 to 12 hours a day, earning overtime wages if they go over 40 hours a week. 

Ag mechanics often work in a fast-paced environment and must meet specific deadlines. Becoming an Ag mechanic could be ideal if you enjoy staying active during work. 

Browse Our Service Technician Jobs and Apply Online

Browse Our Service Technician Jobs and Apply Online

Holt Ag Solutions can help you kickstart your new career if you're looking to become a farm equipment technician. You can browse our service technician jobs and apply online, making it easy to find a new job. Whether you're a professional Ag technician with plenty of experience or just starting, we have various options available. Holt Ag Solutions is dedicated to continuous growth for both the company and employees. The more time you spend working on equipment, the more your skillset will grow.

You can also work towards our Apprenticeship Program, where you'll have the opportunity to work on more challenging projects. As you develop your skills and work through the program, you can progress toward becoming a qualified professional Ag mechanic. If you're looking for more information about how you can start a career, fill out our contact form today, and we'll get in touch with you!