How to Get a Heavy Equipment Operator LicenseIf you are asking how to get a heavy equipment operator’s license, then, we’ve made this piece of content right for you.

Specials skills are required in operating excavators, loaders, backhoes and other pieces of heavy equipment. I

If you don’t have such a license that will permit you to operate these kinds of machinery, you won’t be able to get a job.

Employers are looking for those individuals who have the capacities and abilities to get the job done safely and efficiently.

So whether you’re new or veteran in this profession, completing a heavy equipment operator course is important to progress your career.



What You Need to Do to Have a Heavy Equipment Operator License

Step 1 - Learn about the job description and responsibilities of a heavy equipment operator and assess yourself if this is the profession you would like to do in the long term.

Heavy equipment operators usually work in the construction sites and outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. They work long hours and often times in overtime to get the work done. Some operators work in far-flung location especially those who are assigned to the desert and distant areas away from home. You could be away from your family at a time.

They operate several pieces of heavy equipment such as loaders, backhoes, bulldozers, cranes, excavators, dump trucks. Due to the large size of these pieces of heavy equipment and because these types of machinery are expensive, operators must be properly trained and have gained experience to prevent accidents and damages to it.

You will be working in construction sites and other similar types of projects, in pipeline laying work, construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, development of seaports and airports, tunnels and buildings, you could even be assigned in mining and quarrying type of activities.

You could work anywhere as long as there is a need to transport and move earth materials and the large volume of goods and materials.

If you think you have the right attitude and behavior to become an operator, you can start the planning to take heavy equipment operator course.

Step 2 – Accomplish and Complete the Basic Requirements

Almost all of the trade jobs out in the market today need you to complete high school or have a GED equivalent certificate. High school diploma is a prerequisite when you’re applying for an apprenticeship program in the union and will be required by a prospective employer when you’re applying for a job with them.

There is no age limit to become an operator, but you if you’re still young, you must be at least 18 years old. You may already know that if you’re 18 that federal laws prohibit you from getting employed as an operator so there’s no sense of getting heavy equipment operator license if you’re still under 18.

You don’t have to be reminded that operating heavy equipment is a physically demanding job, therefore, you must be in excellent health condition and good physical shape. You may undergo a series of medical tests.

Step 3 – Taking of Heavy Equipment Operator Training Course

There are three means to complete heavy equipment training and get certified.

First, you can take the training at the school by enrolling in a course. If looking for one, browse our directory of heavy equipment operator schools near you. If you are looking for one, we have a list of them here on this website. Click the menu on left side or bottom, find the state where you are, there you will see the directory. We included the addresses and contact details so that you can easily make an inquiry with them.

The second way to take the training is through the union apprenticeship if the state where you are is unionized. You can find a program if it is available to you by visiting the website of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).

The third way is to undergo a state-sponsored apprenticeship. Such apprenticeship training requires you to undertake a formal and practical training that could last for three (3) to finish. Some states require you to be registered with them as an apprentice.



Obtaining Your License and Certification

You can receive your certificate of basic training in heavy equipment operation when you’ve completed it at the training school or vocational college or at the union.

If you have demonstrated your knowledge and skills during the course, they will issue you a certificate and/or operator card, proving that you have completed the training course. This operator card is also referred to as a license.

If you are intending to operate cranes, you will need additional certification. Depending on the state where you are in, you may be required to have a license or be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

CCO certificate permits you to operate a certain type of crane depending on the course you’ve have taken. Having such certificate meaning you are nationally-recognized
Another license that you may need is the commercial driver’s license or CDL. You can get a CDL to increase your chance of getting employed and improve job opportunities.

With CDL, it enables you to transport on public roads different types of heavy equipment weighing over 26,000 pounds with the flatbed trailer to and from the worksite. You will also be required to have CDL if you drive dump truck on public roads.

Many heavy equipment operators perform work that needs CDL. You can apply for CDL here.

Contents of the Training Course

If you will be taking the heavy equipment training at the vocational school or community college, it would take about 9 weeks to complete the course.

During this training duration, the students will learn how to operate various pieces of heavy machinery such as dozers, crawler-tractors, excavators, scraper, backhoes, rollers and many others that included in the course you are enrolled in.

You will spend time in the classroom, listening to the instructor. The subjects covered during the classroom lectures are the surveying procedures, using of GPS and computer to plan the commencement of the project, safe operation of the equipment (the instructor will give emphasis on this subject).

After the classroom, you will spend time operating the heavy equipment in the field. About 60% of the course is practical training. With good reason, you have to rigorously operate the equipment in the actual work environment so that you can get the hang of it and feel how it is like to be an operator.

You will learn the different operational controls of each type of heavy equipment, you will be trained to judge distance, inspection and maintenance of the equipment are also covered. Other subjects are basic hydraulics, how engine diesel works, applied math, electrical system maintenance, hand signal and safety signs.

Some schools offer 3-week practicum or on-the-job (OJT) training.

Finding a Heavy Equipment Operator Job

If you’re successful in completing the training and obtaining the required certification and licenses, the training school where you took the course from, can assist you in finding an entry-level job

The training school has a large network of employers and contractors who are looking for skilled individuals like you. According to US BLS, there will be a boom in the construction industries in the coming years and decades, the demand for your talent in trend for the next coming years.

You can expect a good salary operating heavy equipment. According to the March 2018 report of, the average salary of an operator is ranging from $54,405-$73,618. Other factors affect the pay you can receive such as your experience level and other acquired skills.



To Finalize This

Getting heavy equipment operator license takes time and money.

You have to put your dedication to taking the training and completing it. There’s no shortcut to it. You have to invest your effort and time.

If you have a heavy equipment operator license, you increase your employability. Employers usually prefer those individuals who have already have a license in their possession compare to those without.

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