Learning to operate heavy equipment in California and becoming an operator by completing a training program has always been a rewarding career. By taking a certification program in the school, you develop the required skills and abilities essential to get employment in federal civil projects, construction sites, private contractor earth-work projects, mines and excavations and in other fields that require talents like you. These industries are expanding and flourishing in the coming years and even decades, thus, they want trained individuals to do the job.
To acquire the expertise you needed for the job, the best approach is to enroll in an apprenticeship program, below are some of the unions where you can apply. You can also register for the heavy equipment training in a trade school or local college where you can be accepted with less difficulty compare to applying for an apprenticeship, we have listed down the schools below.
Now before you continue, you might be wondering if this job is the one right for you? Here's the answer
Joint Apprenticeship Committee For Operating Engineers for the 46, Northern Counties In California
14738 Cantova Way, Sloughhouse, CA 95683,
Phone: (916) 354-2029
Apprenticeship program is offered, to be eligible applicant must be resident of Local 3
International Union of Operating Engineers
Local 082, 1253 Broadway, PMB #432, El Cajon, Phone: (619) 334-9571
Local 501, 2405 West Third St, Los Angeles, Phone: (213) 385-1561
Local 039, 1620 N Market Blvd, Sacramento, Phone: (916) 928-0399
Local 003, 1620 South Loop Road, Alameda, Phone: (510) 748-7425
Provides apprenticeship program in others areas and states as well
Local 12 Union Hall - (Operating Engineers Training Trust )
700 Faeh Avenue, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
Contact: Billy Ray, Tel: (805) 489-1533 or (213) 385-2889, Fax: (805) 489-0946
Offers three and a half year on-the-job training apprenticeship program
Southern California Operating Engineers
Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
2190 South Pellissier Place, Whittier, CA 90601
Heavy Equipment Colleges of America – Northern California
409 12th Street, Modesto, CA 95354
Deep Creek Construction School
8280 Deep Creek Road, Apple Valley, California 92308
Contact: Phone: (760)-240-3045, Email:
College of Instrument Technology
17156 Bellflower Blvd. Bellflower, CA 90706
Phone : 562.925.1785
Butte College – offers a one-year training program
3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville, California
Phone: +1 530-895-2511
QUINN CAT – Check first if there’s training schedule
10273 S Golden State Blvd., Selma California, 93662
1 559 891-6702 – Fax, 1 559 896-4040 – Phone
Heavy Equipment College of California (HECC)
Stockton, Northern California
Phone: (888) 314-8954
Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District
Contact: John Livingston, Phone: 530-242-2203, email:
It is a one-year training program
West Hills Community College District
9900 Cody St., Coalinga, CA 93210
Phones: (559)934-2100, (559)934-2000
Hawthorne Cat San Diego
16945 Camino San Bernardo, San Diego, CA 92127
Offers level-1 operator training in CAT equipment
San Diego City College
1313 Park Boulevard., San Diego, CA 92101-4787
Phone: (619) 388-3400
Holt of California
53 E Vassar Ave, Merced (Phone: 209-386-1953)
2950 Colusa Highway, Yuba City (Phone: 530-755-3363)
426 4th Street, Williams (Phone: 530-473-2866)
3850 Channel Dr., West Sacramento (Phone: 916-373-4100)
2121 E. Monte Vista Ave., Vacaville (Phone: 707-455-7600)
700 N. Walnut Road, Turlock (Phone: 209-664-3875)
1521 West Charter Way, Stockton (Phone: 209-466-6000)
10000 Industrial Way, Roseville (Phone: 916-772-9600)
3440 East Pacheco, Los Banos (Phone: 209-826-4919)
Here some resources that can help on your career journey:
- Can You Be A Heavy Equipment Operator If You Have DUI or DWI?
- Can You Use Your Heavy Equipment Operator License to Work in Another State?
- Can I Use My Heavy Equipment License to Work for Another Company?
- Best Places to Get Job as a Heavy Equipment Operator
- Is Drug Test Mandatory For Heavy Equipment Operator?
- How to Pass the Heavy Equipment Operator Training Practical Test?
- How to Get a Heavy Equipment Operator License?
Tips for Choosing the Best School
- Find a school that will provide the sufficient education in becoming a certified operator. Find a school that has the inclusion of 1 year to 1 ½ year certificate and a 2-year degree in crane operation. Having crane operator certificate under your belt can be useful when searching for a job since today’s market is fierce. Having a crane operator certificate is your competitive edge.
- Find a school that also offers a preparatory course, as part of the curriculum, for you to take the certification exam and be able to successfully pass it.
- Select a school that has apprenticeship training and on-the-work study as part of the curriculum so that you can absorb as much knowledge and competence from the training course.
- Find a school that has a large network of employers. It will be a good advantage for you, the school can refer you to them once you’ve completed the training and acquire the necessary certification and licenses.
- Just like the technology, heavy equipment gets outdated. When choosing a school to enroll in, find the one that has up-to-date and properly maintained heavy equipment. You can ask the school if you could have a peek at the work areas, see if they are rusted and showing age.
- Ask the school how many trainees are there for every class. Don’t enroll in a class that has a lot of students, you won’t be able to absorb as much competence because the trainer won’t be able to focus on every one of you.
How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator in California
Complete the requirements
You need to have a high school diploma or its GED equivalent certificate. Since most jobs in this field today requires high school diploma. It is also a credential in getting accepted by a technical school. Aside from those, the IUOE may also require you to have this to be their apprentice.
The second requirement that you must attain is you need have a physical conditioning and in good health since the nature of the training and job itself, is physically demanding. You need to
For the complete and detailed prerequisites that you need; read this page:
Taking the Heavy Equipment Training Course
The fastest route to become an operator is by taking a training course. You can get your secondary education from a trade or technical school. The schools in California where you can enroll are listed above.
If you are planning to enroll in, we also prepared the tips in choosing the right school as mentioned above.
Obtain the Necessary Licenses
Your prospective employer may require you have valid driver’s license and commercial driver’s license before getting accepted for the job.
If you will be working as a crane operator in the state of California, then you need to be certified. If you will be operating a crane that has a capacity of more 2,000 lbs, you must have certification to work on this equipment. Usually, you can take a certification exam that is composed of written test and practical training administered by a testing body such the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, the most popular of it. Another testing body is the Crane Institute Certification (CIC).
Getting the Apprenticeship
For you to be able to get as much experience as possible, applying for an apprenticeship is the best way.
You can apply for as an apprenticeship in International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Here are the locals of IUOE in California:
Location: 12 (HP)
150 East Corson Street
Pasadena, California 91103
Phone: (626) 792-8900
Location: 3 (HP)
1620 South Loop Road
Alameda, California 94502
Phone: (510) 748-7425
Location: 501 (S)
2405 West Third St
Los Angeles, California 90057
Phone: (213) 385-1561
Getting into an apprenticeship is basically almost the same as taking a training course in the trade school. You have to undergo the classroom lectures and on-the-job training. It takes 4 years to complete the apprenticeship training.
Finding a Job
Finding a job can be easy undertaking if you enrolled at the school that has a large network of employers. The training school is the source of talents of construction companies. After you’ve graduated, they can easily put you on the job by referring you to these hiring companies.
If you are looking for a job as an operator, here's a page to help you:
How Much is Your Pay as Heavy Equipment Operator Working in California
According to the latest March 28, 2023 report of Salary.com, the average salary of heavy equipment operators working in this state is $78,21. But since there's a deviation, it ranges from $65,435-$88,770. Here are the cities/municipalities that offer the best salary:
|El Monte||$78,566||San Bernardino||$74,632|
|Elk Grove||$75,750||San Diego||$75,600|
|Garden Grove||$78,286||Santa Cruz||$77,921|
|Huntington Beach||$78,110||Simi Valley||$76,548|
If you will work in the neighboring state of Nevada, you could expect a lower salary.
If you want to work in other states, here's how much you can receive as an operator: