Vehicle and Machinery Mechanic Occupations

Each job description is preceded by an indication of which branches of the service the job is available in, as not all branches of the service offer the same careers. For additional information beyond what we offer here, you can also visit: careersinthemilitary.com and todaysmilitary.com/careers.

Aircraft Mechanics

Army
Navy
Air Force
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

Military aircraft are used to fly hundreds of missions each day for transport, patrol, and flight training. They need frequent servicing to remain safe and ready to fly. Aircraft mechanics inspect, service, and repair helicopters and airplanes.

What They Do

Aircraft mechanics in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Service and repair helicopter, jet, and propeller aircraft engines
  • Inspect and repair aircraft wings, fuselages (bodies), and tail assemblies
  • Service and repair aircraft landing gear
  • Repair or replace starters, lights, batteries, wiring, and other electrical parts

Where They Work

Aircraft mechanics work in aircraft hangars and machine shops located on air bases or aboard aircraft carriers.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian aircraft mechanics work for aircraft manufacturers, commercial airlines, and government agencies. They perform duties similar to those of military aircraft mechanics. They may also be called airframe or power plant mechanics.

Physical Requirements

Some specialties require moderate to heavy lifting. Normal color vision is required to work with
color-coded wiring.

Automotive and Heavy Equipment Mechanics

Army
Navy
Air Force
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

Keeping automotive and heavy equipment in good working condition is vital to the success of military missions. Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics maintain and repair vehicles such as jeeps, cars, trucks, tanks, self-propelled missile launchers, and other combat vehicles. They also repair bulldozers, power shovels, and other construction equipment.

What They Do

Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Troubleshoot problems in vehicle engines, electrical systems, steering, brakes, and suspensions
  • Tune and repair engines
  • Replace or repair damaged body parts, hydraulic arms or shovels, and grader blades
  • Establish and follow schedules for maintaining vehicles

Where They Work

Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics usually work inside large repair garages. They work outdoors when making emergency repairs in the field.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian automotive and heavy equipment mechanics may work for service stations, auto and construction equipment dealers, farm equipment companies, and state highway agencies. They perform duties similar to those of military automotive and heavy equipment mechanics. They may also be called garage mechanics, carburetor mechanics, transmission mechanics, radiator mechanics, construction equipment mechanics, or endless track vehicle mechanics.

Physical Requirements

Automotive and heavy equipment mechanics may have to lift heavy parts and tools. They sometimes have to work in cramped positions. Normal color vision is required for some specialties to work with color-coded wiring and to read diagrams.

Divers

Army
Navy
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

Sometimes, military tasks such as ship repair, construction, and patrolling must be done under water. Divers in the military perform this work. They usually specialize either as scuba divers, who work just below the surface, or as deep-sea divers, who may work for long periods of time in depths up to 300 feet.

What They Do

Divers in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Inspect and clean ship propellers and hulls
  • Patch damaged ship hulls using underwater welding equipment
  • Patrol the waters below ships at anchor
  • Salvage (recover) sunken equipment
  • Assist with underwater construction of piers and harbor facilities
  • Survey rivers, beaches, and harbors for underwater obstacles
  • Use explosives to clear underwater obstacles

Where They Work

Divers work underwater. However, they plan and prepare for work on land or aboard ships. Because diving is not usually a full-time job, divers often develop another job specialty in which they work.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian divers work for oil companies, salvage companies, underwater construction firms, and police or fire rescue units. They perform duties similar to those of divers in the military.

Physical Requirements

Divers must be good swimmers and physically strong.

Heating and Cooling Mechanics

Army
Navy
Air Force
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

Air-conditioning and heating equipment is used to maintain comfortable temperatures in military buildings, airplanes, and ships. Refrigeration equipment is used to keep food cold and to keep some missile fuels at subzero storage temperatures. Heating and cooling mechanics install and repair air-conditioning, refrigeration, and heating equipment.

What They Do

Heating and cooling mechanics in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Install and repair furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners
  • Recharge cooling systems with refrigerant gases
  • Install copper tubing systems that circulate water or cooling gases
  • Replace compressor parts such as valves, pistons, bearings, and electrical motors on refrigeration units
  • Repair thermostats and electrical circuits

Where They Work

Heating and cooling mechanics may work inside repair shops. Frequently, they work wherever equipment is to be installed or repaired.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian heating and cooling mechanics work for contractors that install home furnaces and air conditioners or for firms that repair refrigerators and freezers in homes, grocery stores, factories, and warehouses. Heating and cooling mechanics in civilian life often specialize more than those in the military. They may be called heating, air-conditioning, refrigeration, or climate-control mechanics.

Physical Requirements

Heating and cooling mechanics may have to lift or move heavy equipment. They are often required to stoop, kneel, and work in cramped positions. Normal color vision is required for locating and repairing color-coded wiring.

Marine Engine Mechanics

Army
Navy
Air Force
Marine Corps
Coast Guard

The military operates many types of watercraft, ranging from small motor launches to large ships. Many of these vessels are powered by gasoline or diesel engines. Marine engine mechanics repair and maintain gasoline and diesel engines on ships, boats, and other watercraft. They also repair shipboard mechanical and electrical equipment.

What They Do

Marine engine mechanics in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Repair and maintain shipboard gasoline and diesel engines
  • Locate and repair machinery parts, including valves and piping systems
  • Repair ship propulsion machinery
  • Repair and service hoisting machinery and ship elevators
  • Repair refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment on ships
  • Repair engine-related electrical systems

Where They Work

Marine engine mechanics work aboard ships, normally in the engine or power rooms. Sometimes they work in repair centers on land bases. Working conditions in engine rooms tend to be noisy and hot.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian marine engine mechanics work in many industries, including marine transportation, commercial fishing, and oil exploration and drilling. They perform duties similar to those of military marine engine mechanics.

Physical Requirements

Normal color vision is required to work with color-coded diagrams and wiring.

Powerhouse Mechanics

Army
Navy
Coast Guard

Power-generating stations (powerhouses) provide electric power for military bases, ships, and field camps. The many types of powerhouses range from small gas generators to large nuclear reactors. Powerhouse mechanics install, maintain, and repair electrical and mechanical equipment in power-generating stations.

What They Do

Powerhouse mechanics in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Install generating equipment, such as gasoline and diesel engines, turbines, and air compressors
  • Repair and maintain nuclear power plants
  • Inspect and service pumps, generators, batteries, and cables
  • Tune engines using hand tools, timing lights, and combustion pressure gauges
  • Diagnose (troubleshoot) engine and electrical system problems
  • Replace damaged parts such as fuel injectors, valves, and pistons

Where They Work

Powerhouse mechanics work in equipment repair shops, power plant stations, or power-generating rooms aboard ships. Sometimes they work outdoors while repairing substation generating equipment.

Opportunities in Civilian Life

Civilian powerhouse mechanics work for a wide variety of employers, such as utility and power companies, manufacturing companies, and others that operate their own power plants. They perform duties similar to those of military powerhouse mechanics.

Physical Requirements

Powerhouse mechanics may have to lift and move heavy electrical generators or batteries. Normal color vision is required to work with color-coded wiring and cables