With construction projects and civil works on the climb, employers and contractors are always in continuous search for qualified excavator operators to become part of the workforce.
If you’re an individual, have you ever considered going into this occupation and interested in learning the craft? Taking excavator training and getting the certification is the key. This career has a lot of employment opportunities.
If you are an employer looking for ways to get your operators trained and certified, having an on-site training could be just the best approach.
Whatever your requirements, it is always important to have the right knowledge and qualification to get the job done easily and efficiently. Getting trained and certified makes everyone safe and happy.
So if you are one of those people who want to learn, there are different ways to take the excavator training and certification, here are those:
In-Class Excavator Training Program
The typical way of taking the excavator training is through in-classroom lectures. The program is comprised of classroom training and hands-on exercises and end with operator performance evaluation. The topics and knowledge you will learn in the training program are as follows:
- You will learn how to use attachments in the operation
- Know the different excavator types necessary for the job
- The equipment capabilities and limitations
- Understanding the data plate to calculate safe work loads
- Be able to read and interpret technical drawings
- Be able to apply safety procedures at all times
- Be able to carry out job in construction site
- Be able to get updated about the current and relevant safety regulations
- Be able to perform pre-inspection and walk-around
- Preventive maintenance and repair
- Risk and hazard assessment prior to work operation
Depending on the brand and type of exactor equipment, there could be more topics. Classroom instruction is a good way for students to grasp and knowledge and understanding of operation of excavator and that the instructor is always on a stand by to answer questions.
The other method of conducting excavator course is through on-site training. For me, it is the most ideal way of delivering the training. This training approach is for employer wishing to certify their operators. For convenience and handiness, the trainer can come at the company’s premise to train the workers on their own equipment.
There are a number of benefits of having on-site training, they are:
- Since the operators are trained on-site, the employer will not have to shoulder the travel cost, reducing expenses.
- The employer can save precious time since the operators don’t have to travel to the training school to take the training at. This means less work stoppage and more efficient time at work.
- Multiple numbers of operators can be trained at a time in the actual work site. The workers don’t have to time out and can be back to work once the training is finished.
- It offers a flexible approach of delivering the training in a unique and tailored to your need.
- The course curriculum can be altered to correspond with the type of equipment in worksite, to match with the knowledge and behavior of the operators and to go in line with the company’s safety policy.
- With on-site training, the new and old operators can keep up to date with the company’s current policy and rules making them aware of the practices being implemented.
More and more employers are bringing the excavator training on-site because it is the cost effect and efficient way of educating the operators. If you are a company or a contractor, such training might be the right for you.
It is the Obligation of the Employer to Train Their Excavator Operator
This what OSHA mandates to employer. It is their responsibility to train and keep them competent. There are four (4) ways to do this. First, having an in-house trainer who conduct training with the company’s training program; second, hire an outside instructor to conduct the training on-site (as stated above); third, send the operators to the training school where they can take training; and fourth, use other training provider’s materials and instructions and conduct the course online.
If you are an employer, keep it mind that the training provider is not a certifying body. The role of the training provider is just to provide the course and assist you in preparing the operators to become certified.
If you are choosing among those four choices, the on-site training is best recommended for you. There are a number of advantages you can reap from on-site training. It is cost-effective and efficient approach of course delivery.
How Often Do You Need Excavator Training
OSHA requires that excavator operators be trained or reassessed every three (3) to keep them updated and assure that they are still skilled and competent in the operation of the equipment
However, the 3-year period is just the maximum time before taking the retraining but there are circumstances that the operators need to undergo such training:
- If the operator is involved in an accident, near miss incident or observed operating the equipment in an unsafe manner;
- If the operator has received unsatisfactory evaluation rating from the instructor during the training.
- If the excavator operator has been assigned to operate different type of equipment he is not familiar operating.
- If there is a considerable change in the workplace setup or the operator has been assigned in different type of workplace he is not accustomed working (let’s say for example, he’s been transferred from a construction site to a mining site).
If you are an individual who had been trained by previous employer and you are now switching to a new one, do you still need to take the training? Well, this is fairly a frequent question I heard from a lot of people.
It is the new employer’s judgment to say if you still have to go to the retraining or not even if you show your certificate or operator card as proof of your competency.
You are mostly be retrained by new company with their own training program, this is because in the event of an accident, they have something to show to OSHA inspector that you’ve been trained by them prior to employment.
How to Become Certified Excavator Operator If You’re an Individual
Be marketable as today’s job market is competitive. You can be qualified to work as excavator operator on any project, would it be government or private, if you have the excavator operator certification. Here are simple steps you need to do to be certified:
- Go through the classroom lectures – this is the theoretical part of the course. It focuses heavily on many key topics such as operational safety, equipment stability, machine characteristics, current government regulations, and other subjects that may be deemed necessary for the kind of excavator you’re taking training on.
- Pass the written exam – to measure the theoretical knowledge you’ve acquired from the classroom training, the instructor will administer a written exam. The passing score will depend primarily on the standard of the school, the instructor will inform about it.
- Take the practical training – it is the hands-on training under the direct supervision of the trainer for you to learn and experience the actual operation of the equipment. You will demonstrate your skill in a workplace-simulated environment. You will also learn how to inspect the equipment prior to use.
- Finally, you also have to pass the performance assessment/evaluation – the last par the certification process is the skill evaluation, this is where you have to prove your competency in operating the excavator. The instructor will give a set task you have to perform, make your instructor satisfied about your performance, you will be assured of passing the certification.
- If you passed, you will receive your certificate of training completion and/or operator card. These are your proofs that you’ve undergone such training that you can show to a prospective employer.
Getting NCCER Excavator Certification to Become Nationally-Recognized
Would it be great if you have a nationally-recognized certification? This is when the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) comes in. One of the services NCCER offers is the assessment and certification on many craft areas and curriculums and one those are for exactor operators.
The NCCER certification assessment curriculum is composed of two: the written assessment and performance verification. This is basically the same process you’ve taken when you’re initially taking the excavator training at the school.
#1: The Written Assessment
The written assessment is a method to gauge the theoretical knowledge you have in the specific craft area. There are many accredited testing centers around the country that offers administration of such test.
The test usually last for two hours and it is closed-book exam, you can only use a basic function calculator to solve math problems and numbers. The testing center will provide you with the necessary pencils and extra papers other learning materials are permitted in the testing room.
If you’re asking what contents the test will compose of, the test will revolve around these crucial subjects:
|Excavator Basic Operations
|Grades and Site Work
|Earth Moving and Soils
|Excavator Field Operations
Total # of Questions: 85
The written test comprises of multiple choice-type questions that measure how well you are on the topics. The passing grade is 75. To increase your chance of passing the written test, testing module is available online. See here the different NCCER module.
If you passed the written assessment part of the curriculum, you will then receive a “Knowledge Verified” certification on excavator equipment. This credential will then be go into the NCCER registry.
#2: The Performance Verification
The other part of the NCCER certification program is the performance verification. It is very much the same as the practical test you’ve undergone in the initial excavator training you’ve taken at the school.
The performance verification requires the candidates for the demonstration of their skills in a controlled and measurable manner so that they can be “measured.” The tasks involved in the performance verification test are:
- demonstration of proper pre-start inspection of the equipment
- be able to perform basic operations such as moving forward and backward
- making pivot turn and spot turn, and excavate a trench 10L x 10W at least 3 feet deep
If you are successful in passing the performance verification skill assessment, you will have your “Performance Verified” certification that will then be entered into the NCCER registry as your credential.
“Certified Plus” – the highest NCCER Certification
The “Certified Plus” certification is given to those candidates who both passed the written test and performance verification.
For you to be able to keep your competitiveness and marketable in today’s industry, you need attain the certified plus certification. Employers value those job candidates or employees with this credential.
NCCER Offers Services Such as the Ones Below
- The other service NCCER gives is its National Registry system. The registry is a computer record of credentials and certifications of all craft areas NCCER covers. If you are one of those successful individuals who have passed one or many certifications, your credentials will be entered into the registry for easy tracking and verification. This makes it easy for your and your company who plan to verify your qualification for the position of excavator operator.
- With the easy access on the registry, the craftsmen can conveniently maintain their qualifications and experience helping them to monitor on what areas they have to focus on their career guiding them for development.
- If you are in the NCCER registry, you will be able to get a wallet-size operator card showing your credentials. This is a fast and easy way to show your qualifications when you are applying for a job or convincing your employer for a promotion.
What Do You Need to Become Excavator Operator?
- Operators of construction equipment such excavators, bulldozer, cranes, and many others require to have licensure of certification to operate these machines. You may need NCCER certification, or if you are a crane operator, you will need an NCCCO certification. Other states also has its regulation requiring to have a level of qualification to perform a particular job, if you want to be an excavator operator, ensure you are complying with the state’s relevant law.
- You will need a high school diploma or its equivalent (such as GED). This will allow you to go on to a technical school or college to take excavator operator training and get the certification. This is one of the credential that will be asked from when enrolling in a course and applying for a job.
- You will need to have on-the-job training or completion of apprenticeship program. It is an industry standard to have such qualification. It will make you more prepared to be a member of the workforce; the employers know it, that’s why they always require candidates to have on-the-job experience or apprenticeship before being offered with a job. Combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skill, you get from the on-the-job training, makes you qualified for the job as an excavator operator.
- You may need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be able to operate heavy equipment on public road. If you have CDL you are more likely be favored by an employer. Though, it may take additional time and investment to get this credential, having such can make a big different between getting employed or ignored by an employer. If you don’t have CDL, you can apply for nearest Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) in your state. Click here to apply.
- You will need physical ability, good eye sight and hand-and-eye coordination as the nature of the work demands it. The employer may require you to under to physical test prior to employment. You may be required to undergo a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical test. Find DOT physical requirements here.
To Make a Conclusion
Taking the excavator training and certification does take some time and a little investment. But you can reap great benefits from it. You can easily land on a job or offer with a promotion if you have the right credentials.
Taking the training does take several days to complete, the certification then follows. The process could be nerve-wracking, but if you absorbed knowledge and skill during the training, it is fairly simple to pass.
Take time and put a little money of your skill to become trained and certified excavator operator.