How To Become a Caterpillar Mechanic (Plus Salary Info)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Caterpillar mechanics are trained professionals who work on machinery and equipment produced by Caterpillar, a company that's one of the leading large-scale mobile machinery manufacturers in the world. Caterpillar offers candidates a specialized training program for entering the field, making it a valuable option for those who want to work as mechanics or technicians. If you're interested in pursuing a career as a Caterpillar mechanic, it's helpful to understand the training and other credentials needed for the job. In this article, we explain the role of a Caterpillar mechanic, how to become one and the average salary for this occupation.

What is a Caterpillar mechanic?

A Caterpillar mechanic is a technician who evaluates, maintains and repairs Caterpillar machinery. Caterpillar, or Cat, is a company that manufacturers mobile heavy equipment for construction, mining, agriculture and other large-scale outdoor industries. Some of the most common tools Caterpillar produces include cranes, conveyors, bulldozers, excavators and compactors. Caterpillar mechanics complete many duties related to the processes, functions and maintenance of Caterpillar equipment. They also earn specialized credentials to perform their jobs.

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What does a Caterpillar mechanic do?

A Caterpillar mechanic has an important role in the everyday operations of construction, agriculture, mining and infrastructure projects. Some typical duties of these mechanic include:

  • Replacing damaged or worn machine parts

  • Inspecting heavy machinery regularly to identify potential defects

  • Conducting routine maintenance on equipment

  • Lubricating and cleaning machine parts to ensure proper function

  • Assembling machine tools and equipment

  • Keeping inventory of parts and tools

  • Keeping records of maintenance, repairs and uses of machinery

  • Ordering parts and tools when necessary

  • Ensuring that equipment works safely

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How to become a Caterpillar mechanic

Here are some steps you can follow to pursue a career as a Caterpillar mechanic:

1. Understand the requirements for the job

The first step towards beginning your career as a trained Caterpillar mechanic is to make sure you fully understand the skills and requirements for the job. As a mechanic for large-scale, diesel-powered machinery, it's important that you have skills in critical thinking, dexterity and attention to detail. These skills are necessary for assessing, maintaining and repairing equipment. You may also want to acquaint yourself with the training requirements and research where you can complete a training program in your area.

2. Complete a training program

Another important step to starting this career is to complete a training program. Caterpillar mechanics have two training program options:

  • Caterpillar's ThinkBIG program: Aspiring Cat mechanics can apply for Caterpillar's specialized training program, ThinkBIG. This program typically takes about two years to complete, and students can take their classes at colleges and universities partnered with Caterpillar.

  • Diesel mechanic training program: The other option for aspiring Cat mechanics to get their training is to enroll in a diesel mechanic training program. These programs take about one year to complete and students can take their classes at a local trade school.

For both programs, students must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Caterpillar's training program is highly competitive and requires students to submit an essay and recommendation letters and pass various reasoning tests. Caterpillar recommends that students who don't get accepted on their first try enroll in a trade school training program while they wait for the next application cycle. If you either don't get accepted into Cat's program or decide to pursue a more generalized education, you can apply for a diesel mechanic training program at a trade school.

3. Research employers in your area

Once you've completed your training program, the next step is to research either Caterpillar or general large-scale equipment mechanic positions in your area. If you complete Cat's ThinkBIG program, you may have an easier time finding employment either in an official Caterpillar dealer or repair shop.

With either a Cat or general training certification, you can likely find a job at a general large machinery repair shop or as an independent mechanic. You can find jobs by searching on job boards and company websites. Be sure to create a strong resume and cover letter to include with your applications.

What do Caterpillar mechanics learn during training?

Caterpillar mechanics learn the basics of large-scale machinery maintenance and repair during their training programs. These programs emphasize the following concepts:

  • Hydraulics

  • Electricity

  • Diesel engines and technology

  • Understanding blueprints and manuals

  • Safety procedures

  • Machine maintenance

During your training program, you may also work on the job in various settings, such as construction sites, Cat dealerships, industrial facilities and repair shops, where you can gain valuable experience in the repairing and maintenance of Caterpillar machinery. Once you graduate from your training program, you can officially work as a certified Caterpillar mechanic or as a general diesel-powered equipment technician.

Related: How To Become a Mechanic

Caterpillar mechanic work environment

Caterpillar mechanics usually work as internal staff members at an official Caterpillar dealership or repair shop. They might also work as traveling technicians who repair and maintain equipment at various project sites. For those who choose to work in a Cat retailer, typical responsibilities may include inspecting shipments, diagnosing customer equipment issues and offering solutions and maintenance advice.

As a traveling mechanic, you may visit various construction, agriculture, infrastructure and mining locations where Caterpillar equipment is necessary for project operations. A traveling Cat mechanic takes calls for jobs where transporting machinery to a dealer or shop for repair is not an option.

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Caterpillar mechanic salary

The national average base salary for mechanics of various types is $51,499 per year. This salary figure can depend on factors like how much experience you have and the location of your workplace. If you want to increase your salary potential as a Caterpillar mechanic, consider completing specialized Caterpillar training or developing other advanced credentials.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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