The workplace is a very dangerous place this is why heavy equipment training is important. Not only it makes the workers competent for the job but it also instills safety. This is the basic reason why you need to take such a course.
If you are in New Mexico and you want to be a heavy equipment operator, taking the course is a prerequisite. Training in accordance with the current government regulations and industry safety standard is a must to sustain an accident-free workplace.
Anyone who is looking for a job as a heavy equipment operator is often required by their employer to take such training and earn the certification especially if construction is the nature of the business of the employer.
The training covers in-the-field exercises and classroom lectures. The course aims at providing the trainees with such qualifications on how such equipment operates together with the safety aspects in working with these machines.
If you are one of the individuals who want to get into this field to earn a decent income, we made this article prepared to help you on the journey.
Let’s Discuss the Prerequisites You Need
- A high school diploma or GED certificate is preferred – according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma is required to get a job as a heavy equipment operator as the employer will ask for it.
- Be 18 years old or older – this is the minimum age you need to be to get employed as a heavy equipment operator, and this is also the age you need to be in order to take the training in the school.
- You need to have a valid driver’s license – you will need this if you will be operating the equipment on public roads. Likewise, a valid driver’s license is also a requirement if you will apply for a CDL.
- Valid Department of Transportation (DOT) health card – the nature of the job is physically demanding. You will work outdoors and in many sorts of weather conditions. You will get exposed to the beatings of your daily job. It is therefore required to have the physical ability to withstand a backbreaking busy workplace. To prove this, the employer may require you to have a DOT health card.
- Class A CDL License – technically you don’t need a CDL to be an operator but employers give preference to those candidates with CDL. You are more likely to receive a job offer or salary raise if you have such credentials. The employer will be inclined to compensate you more if you are able to drive trucks as well as heavy equipment. If you have a CDL and operator certificate, you rise among other job applicants vying for the position.
Completing the Heavy Equipment Operator Training
Now that you know what you need to have in order to prepare and become a heavy equipment operator, the next step is to take and complete the training course.
If you’re an individual who is seeking to get trained, there are two options for you to choose from. First, you can go to a technical or training school and sign in for a course. The training schools in New Mexico are listed below for your reference. Attending a training school could take as much as 10-12 weeks depending on the course. The second option is to take a union apprenticeship program that could take 3-4 years to complete. As an apprentice, you will work under the guidance of a journeyman in the actual work environment, you will get exposed extensively in the real-life scenario enabling you to gain the experience. You will get an entry-level salary. If you want to be an apprentice, contact the IUOE Local 953, their contact info is below.
If you are an employer who is looking for ways to train the workers, you can contact a training provider – usually a vocational or technical school. You can arrange a training schedule with the provider and either send the operators to their facility or conduct the training on-site.
All the training is a preparation to be NCCER or NCCCO certified. These are nationally-recognized certifications. Earning NCCER or NCCCO certification involves passing the written test and practical training. If you have such certification, you are more likely to get a job offer or receive a better salary in addition to long-term employment.
Heavy Equipment Operator School in New Mexico
Registering for a course is fairly easy whether you’re an individual or a company. You just have to contact a training school and arrange a schedule. But unfortunately, there are only a few of these schools in New Mexico, here are they:
- The University of New Mexico (NM-LTAP Center)
Albuquerque, NM 87131, (505) 277-0111
- IUOE Operating Engineers Local 953
3508 Los Picaros RD SE, Albuquerque, NM 87105
Phone: 505-877-5071; Fax: 505-877-5072; Email:
- New Mexico State University
620 Standley Dr., Academic Research Bld. C, Las Cruces, NM 88003
Phone: 575-646-3327; Fax: 575-646-7898
You have the option to take the course in the neighboring state of Oklahoma or Texas if that makes it more convenient for you.
When Enrolling in a Heavy Equipment Operator Course, Remember This
- Find a school that provides a flexible payment option to students so that you can pay the tuition without hurting your pocket.
- Find a school that offers employment assistance to help you find your first job. This is one of the extra supports the school can afford you. With the school’s network of hiring managers, they can easily place you on the job in no time.
- Choose the school with modern heavy equipment. Technology advances so as heavy equipment. Nowadays, GPS and lasers are now being used in certain types of heavy equipment such as graders and excavators. Find a training provider that offers such training on this as well.
- With a vast training campus. The training should be done on acres of land to have a safe learning training environment.
- Choose a school with a training program that is in-lined with NCCER curricula. So that you can familiarize yourself with the current NCCER program so that you won’t be having a hard time when it is time for you to take their certification tests.
- With a small number per class. Ask the training school how many students they accept in a class. The ideal number would be fewer than 10 students.
How Much Does the Training Cost?
In order to improve your qualification, you need to get an education. Investing in education does involve some amount of money.
The cost of tuition of heavy equipment training is typically somewhere in the ballpark figure of $6,000 to $16,000 depending on the course package that could last for several weeks. Additional costs that you need to shoulder are the supplies which usually cost $1,200 to $3,500 and if your home is away from the training location, you may need to pay for room and board that could cost $7,000 on average.
Taking a training course is costly but you can easily recuperate the money you invested in because the salary of a certified heavy equipment operator ranges from $40,000 to $60,000 depending on the work location. In New Mexico, the average you could make per year is between $47,596 and $64,589 - a great amount of money, indeed!
Payment Plans and Funding Options
Many students are taking advantage of different funding options since it is becoming difficult to get qualified for loans. If you opted to get a government-funded program, here are some you can be qualified for Veteran’s Benefit, Trade Adjustment Act, Department of Workforce Development, Vocation Rehabilitation, Workforce Investment Act, etc. If you think you are qualified in one of those, grab the opportunity, avail the program.
A career loan is another option you can avail of if you’re not qualified for any of the government-funded programs above. Many students pay their tuition through career loans and it is one of the payment schemes a training school provides. If you are interested in a career loan, ask the school how you can apply, typically, you will have to pay a down payment upon enrolling and the career loan will be used to pay for the balance.
Getting a Job as a Heavy Equipment Operator
It has been reported that heavy equipment operation is one of the sought-after occupations to get into not only because of the good paycheck you can receive as an operator but also because of the constant demand for qualified people like you, meaning you would not be running out of opportunities in the future.
Heavy equipment operators are required in the construction industry (building of roads and highways, repairs of buildings and highways, etc.) and even in the agricultural sector. You could also find yourself working in docks and ports doing materials handling work and even in mines and quarrying sites.
If you’ve finished taking the training and you are now in search of a job, there are several possible ways to do it. You can apply for an entry-level job to gain experience or seek job assistance. Ask the school where you graduated from if they can assist you to get a job, they usually have some job placement support for their graduates.
Getting a job does take some time and effort. With extra patience, you can land a perfect you’re longing for.
Average Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator in New Mexico
Just how much can you make as a heavy equipment operator? It is worth the effort and investment? These are the questions that pop up in someone’s mind who want to get into this job.
The average salary of a heavy equipment operator who is working in the state of New Mexico is $64,030 according to the latest March 28, 2023 report of Salary.com. The range falls between $53,543 and $72,637 depending on some factors such as years of experience, an additional skill you can apply, education and certification you have under your belt and the location where you are working.
The paycheck is definitely nice. It will allow you to support your family.
If you will work in Texas, the wage is a little lower there.
If you are a new graduate, the starting wage you can earn could be from $20 to $30 per hour. You can start by getting an entry-level job. Getting a job as a heavy equipment operator can be difficult especially if you don’t have a connection this is why when choosing a school find the one that offers job placement assistance.
Now that we’ve talked about how much can earn, you may be asking what is the job outlook for the heavy equipment operator. It is actually better for most occupations. There will be a continuous demand for talents like you in the next coming years. The boom in the construction industry and the increased government spending on infrastructure are what make this job growth.
To Make a Finalization
Being a heavy equipment operator is a rewarding career to get into. There’s no doubt about that. If you are looking to build a career in the construction industry, this might be the best time to start. You just have to complete heavy equipment operator training in New Mexico and get certified, then you are on the pathway toward a lucrative occupation.
But be prepared for its downsides too. You might work for long hours and in different weather conditions and the job has enormous responsibilities.
If you think being a heavy equipment operator is the job you want to start, exert effort and spend time.
We wish you good luck for the journey ahead.