An agricultural mechanic is a person who repairs and maintains agricultural equipment such as tractors, combines, conveyor systems, and more. He or she may work exclusively on one farm or ranch, or the agricultural mechanic may work as a freelancer who can work with any number of farms or ranches in a given area. In most cases, the mechanic does not need any education beyond a high school diploma, though in order to work on some larger, more complex machines, he or she may need to complete college coursework.
The specific job functions of an agricultural mechanic can vary, but in most cases, he or she will be responsible for performing diagnostics on machines that are not working properly, performing routine maintenance on a variety of farming machines, and rebuilding or repairing those machines when necessary. The job of the agricultural mechanic requires that he or she have a working knowledge of mechanical processes; it is possible to accrue this knowledge and experience by studying physics and mathematics in high school, and by taking car repair courses in high school or after. While many of the job functions can be learned while on the job, it helps to have pre-existing knowledge of mechanical functions.
An agricultural mechanic may also be hired by a farm equipment manufacturer. Very often, when a farmer purchases heavy machinery for use on a farm, the purchase will include a warranty policy that states the manufacturer will cover some damage or defects that may occur in the machinery. If such damage occurs, an agricultural mechanic will be sent to the farm to address the problem. The work may be done completely under warranty, meaning the farmer pays nothing and the mechanic is paid by the manufacturer, or the work may not be covered under warranty, giving the farmer the choice of paying for the work from the manufacturer's mechanic or declining the service and hiring a different mechanic.
The complexity of farming machinery has grown over the years; in the past, farmers may have done much of the work themselves. Modern machines feature hydraulic systems and even complex electrical systems in many cases, which means it may not be feasible for the farmer to do the work himself or herself. The mechanic will therefore specialize in servicing such machines, saving the farmer time, money, and energy required to maintain the heavy machinery.