Earn while you learn. This is what we always hear from people encouraging you to become an apprentice. And yes, this is true! Taking the heavy equipment operator apprenticeship is a great way to make a living while gaining the confidence and practical skills to be an operator.
Employers want those individuals with such qualifications. Without a great crew, the employer would not have a business. That means you have to motivated and prove yourself as a hard worker and committed and have the basic skills and safe to be a productive member. Taking the apprenticeship program makes it all possible.
The apprenticeship program is available nationwide, you have to follow the requirements and the application process similar to searching for a job.
The program is usually offered by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). If you are looking a local near where you are, use this locator, or through Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.
If you’re fully decided to be an apprentice, we readied this article for you to give the details you need to prepare for the journey ahead.
General Requirements for the Apprentice Program
If you are interested in entering the program, you must meet certain requirements. Knowing what it takes to apply for an apprenticeship program can save you time. Here are the general requirements you need to be/have in order to get accepted:
- Applying for a job and applying for a heavy equipment apprenticeship is basically the same thing. You need to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate as its equivalent qualification.
- You need to be at least 18 years old at the time you submitted your application to the union. A copy of the birth certificate may have to be submitted to prove age.
- You need to have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
- You need to be a US citizen.
- A background could also be done to verify identity and previous record.
- Be screened by undergoing a substance abuse test, may be required.
- Pass a written entry assessment
- You may be required to have a CDL class A to be an apprentice.
- Other institution may require applicants to produce DMV record showing no DUI record.
- A letter of recommendation from an employer stating that you will be hired by them can boost your chance of getting accepted in the program, though the letter is not mandatory.
- You must be in great physical condition and in good health condition to be an apprentice since the nature of the job is physically demanding. You may be required to undergo physical exams.
- Prior job experience is not necessary to get accepted as an apprentice, the program is meant to accommodate applicants with little or no experience working with heavy equipment. With the 6,000-hour apprenticeship program covering on-the-job and classroom training, the curriculum allows applicants with limited knowledge to be placed at a status more suitable for them.
- Interest to work in many types of weather condition since the job is outdoor.
- Since you are more likely to work in the construction-type environment, you must be flexible to work in 8-hour period or even longer during peak time.
- The job could be sporadic, you must understand that there’s downtime. You can’t be on the job all the time.
- A registration fee of $100 but the fee may depend on the local where you are applying
The requirements you have to meet will depend on the institution where you want to take the heavy equipment operator apprenticeship program, better check with them first the details.
How to Apply for Apprenticeship Program in IUOE
- Find an IUOE local in your area – to get the contact information for you to make an inquiry with the local, click on the menu the state where you are situated. We made a directory of heavy equipment operator schools, there you’ll find the IUOE branch details.
- Find a program schedule – Choose your training date from the rosters of the local. The IUOE usually opens the apprenticeship program at least once or twice a year. Be in the lookout of the training schedule and don’t miss the opportunity because the number of applicants that can only be accepted is limited.
- Complete the requirements – you’ve already read the requirements above, those are the general ones. To make sure what you need to submit, make an inquiry with the IUOE local where you want to take the training from. At the minimum, you need to have a high school diploma, at least be 18 years old, a citizen, a proof of ID.
- Get interviewed – applying for the heavy equipment operator apprenticeship program is basically the same as applying for a regular job. The screening process starts with an interview.
- Pass the written assessment – you must pass the entrance exam as the second part of the application process which takes about just 30 minutes to complete. The pass rate is 70% but it may vary depending on the standard of the local.
- Attend a pre-entrance, 40-hour, on-site training session – When you’re successful passing the written test, you will attend the pre-entrance training session. During this session, you will be assessed in several aspects and learn basic safety and heavy equipment maintenance.
- When you completed the pre-entrance training session, your name will be enlisted in the out-of-work board in the local union office for job placement. If you have a current job, don’t quit it yet until you are called by the union for work deployment.
How Long Does It take to Complete the Apprenticeship Program
The program stretches to about three (3) to four (4) years of intensive on-the-job training and classroom training.
You will need to attend at least 5 weeks of classroom training per year during the course and the rest is on-the-job training. The minimum hours required to complete the program is at a minimum of 4,000 hours. The training program is given by an experienced and knowledgeable instructor with sufficient time to do the hands-on exercises.
The heavy equipment operator apprenticeship program could be sponsored by an employer, labor group or by a union. It is a mean to earn marketable skills while making a living. Upon completion of the program, you will earn the journey level status which is an industry-recognized credential that open opportunities for better employment.
How Much Does an Apprentice Make per Year?
Journeyman and apprentice wage vary from state to state. If you want to know the salary, you may have to contact the local of IUOE in your area to know about the specifics.
But the salary is somewhere in 50% to 60% of the journeyman. The salary you would make as an apprentice is competitive and accompanied by other benefits such as health insurance and pension plan.
Wage increase happens every year or at a designated period of time depending on what has been stipulated in the contract with the employer. During the final year of the apprenticeship program, you would get about 90% of the journeyman salary rate.
If you’re wondering how much a journeyman makes per year so that you can estimate you how much would earn as an apprentice, an operating engineer can make as much as $50,000 to %60,000 a year. The paycheck is definitely nice!
If you are working twice as hard with your current job to make the same amount of money, and you have the passion to work around with heavy equipment, being an apprentice could be the right job you are waiting for. It is gratifying to be a heavy equipment operator.
Advantages of Taking the Heavy Equipment Operator Apprenticeship Program
- Taking the apprenticeship program is the best career path you can take as an individual who wants to get into this profession. It comes with good wages and benefits, in addition, it has no attached student loans.
- You will enjoy good pay and benefits. Graduates of apprenticeship program find that their salary as an operator outstrips their previous pay doing another job. You have also better employment opportunities, in addition, you are in better standing to negotiate your salary with the employer.
- Aside from the on-the-job skill, you learn safety rules, current government regulations, appropriate and efficient use of the heavy equipment, reading and interpreting blueprints, basic equipment troubleshooting, teamwork and communication skills.
- Taking the heavy equipment operator apprenticeship program is becoming popular these days among youth who want to enter this profession. The baby boomers are expected to retire in the next several years, they need to be replaced by young operators like you.
- By introducing yourself with tradespeople, you will begin gaining practical skills. You will be more prepared to join the workforce than those who did not take the program. From day 1 you will be exposed to other tradespeople and professionals, learning the skills and techniques required on the job directly from them.
- You are more employable than those who did not go through the apprenticeship program. The employers prefer to hire those candidates with such credential. If you completed the program, they know you have a depth of practical knowledge to perform the job more efficiently and safely.
To Make a Finalization
If you have the passion and interest to work in this field, do not delay. Take action right now and get enrolled in the apprenticeship program.
It takes some time to finish a heavy equipment operator apprenticeship, you have to put investment of time and effort in completing such training. But once you completed it, you have the best chance of landing a good job and receiving a big paycheck.