Agricultural engineering technicians, design, install, maintain, service and sell agricultural and horticultural machinery. Technicians work for equipment manufacturers, dealerships, hire services, service engineering companies, crop, livestock and fish farms, and forestry companies.
They deal with a range of equipment including tractors, tillers, harvesters, sprayers, transporters, and milking, feeding, crop processing and storage systems; they also work with heavy construction plant machinery, various types of logging equipment and power tools, such as chainsaws. Job roles fall into three broad categories:
Servicing and repair - technicians carry out regular maintenance checks on machinery. They use inspection and testing equipment to diagnose faults and rectify them as quickly as possible. Work is often carried out on-site, for instance on a farm, but where necessary, technicians will carry out repairs back in the workshop.
They deal with mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Some repairs may require a small amount of soldering or welding; others may involve the complete stripping down of an engine before repair and reassembly. They also install new equipment and instruct owners on how to use it correctly and safely.
Sales and marketing – this role is often carried out by people who have previously trained and worked as a technician. They need an in-depth knowledge of parts and machinery and an appreciation of the market pressures their clients are under. Sales staff travel to businesses within their region, demonstrating and selling equipment and parts. They also keep clients up to date with the latest developments in machinery, deal with client enquiries and keep them informed on the progress of their orders.
Manufacturing - technicians assist agricultural engineers in the design, development, testing and building of new products for the farming and forestry industries. They are normally based in an engineering workshop and are competent in a range of skills, such as fabrication, welding, electrics and computer-aided design. They have a thorough knowledge of agricultural equipment and understand the needs of land-based industries.
Agricultural servicing technicians work long and irregular hours and are often on-call. Overtime is common, particularly during the summer months. They work outside in all weathers.
Technicians in workshops usually work around 40 hours a week. Workshops can be noisy and dirty. Much of the work is very physical, involving heavy machinery and tools.
Those working in sales spend time in offices as well as out on the road visiting clients, with some periods of time away from home. A driving licence is essential.
As an agricultural engineering technician you should have:
Employers vary from large multinational manufacturing companies to small machinery dealerships and service agents. Opportunities also exist with distributors and horticultural companies, which operate within the leisure industry. If working for a multinational company, there may be opportunities to work abroad, particularly in developing countries.
Small companies are common in the industry, and prospects for promotion within these companies are good. Typical progression routes are to senior technician, workshop manager, inspection roles, training, area and regional sales coordinator and general management.
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