With the increased demand of workforce in the oil and gas industry together with the booming construction in Oklahoma, heavy equipment operators are now highly sought after in this state
Most individuals become an operator through on-the-job training and not many take this route. It is still advisable to have such formal training which contractors and companies generally prefer.
You can obtain such training by taking such a course in a heavy equipment operator school in Oklahoma.
State regulations and company practices may make this such a strict requirement. It has something to do with the safety aspect of the job. Companies don’t want accidents on their job sites. They know that the most effective method in eliminating or at least reducing the risk of accidents is to have qualified and skilled professionals.
If you are eyeing to enter this industry, you will need professional training, go get it. Here are the schools where you can enroll in:
- Heavy Equipment College of Oklahoma
6101 W. Reno Avenue, Suite 1000, Oklahoma City, OK 73127
- Southern Tech
2610 Sam Noble Parkway, Ardmore, OK 73401
580-223-2070, In District, Toll Free 1-800-989-4599
- Mid-America Technology Center
P.O. Box H, Wayne, Oklahoma 73095
Contact: Phone: 1-405-449-3391 Ext 272; email:
- Pontotoc Technology Center
601 West 33rd Street , Ada, OK 74820
Phone : 580 310 2200
- International Union of Operating Engineers
Local 123 - 434855 East 50th Road Welch, OK 74369 Phone: 918-541-0425; email:
Local 627 - 12109 East Skelly Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74128, Phone (918) 437-0370, Fax (918) 437-6540
Important Criteria in Choosing a Training School to Enroll In
- Find a class that has a small number of students – ask the school how many students they do accept per class. Ignore the school that has a large number. An ideal number is up to 10 students, more than that is a crowd. The advantage of having a small number of students are you will more one-on-one attention and focus from the instructor, the students will get to know each other better developing camaraderie and bond, the instructor can modify the instruction individually to suit a certain student’s need, and student can spend more time in the actual operation.
- Offers full scholarship, discounts, and payment options – we all know that the training cost is a factor in determining where to enroll. If you are on a tight budget, find a school that gives scholarships, discounts and other flexible payment means to somehow help you defray the expenses.
- With modern training facilities and current equipment - to get the most out of the training, find a school that has modern training facilities and heavy equipment. You can pay a visit to the school, observe the facilities and types of machinery used in the training.
- With good instructors – having experienced and skilled instructor is crucial to your learning. You may ask the school about their instructor’s credentials and qualifications. You may also ask them if you could sit in a class to observe how the lectures or training is being given, there you could take a sneak peek of that is the training is going to be.
- Provides employment assistance and guidance after training completion – it would be a great advantage for you if you could immediately find a job as a heavy equipment operator after completing a training course. With the school’s vast network of contractors and employers who are requiring talents like you, they can easily place you for employment. A good training school should also offer career guidance on how to help the trainees become more professionally competitive.
- Proximity from where you are – there’s only a handful of heavy equipment operator schools you can find in Oklahoma. You’re lucky if it is near to you but what if it is not. To save some money on room and lodge, find a school that is in close proximity.
How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator
- Make your mind if this career is what you want to take - with hundreds of options to choose from, how can you know if being a heavy equipment operator is the one you want to do? Many of you may base your decision on the amount of salary that can be made while others on their passion. Before you make a decision, you must understand yourself – your personality; know your interest, aptitudes and habits. If those are inlined of being a heavy equipment operator, there’s a good chance you will love your job.
- You need to know the nature of the job of an operator – you need to have at least an idea of what the job entails. You can do research about the job descriptions and responsibilities of a heavy equipment operator. The majority of them work in the construction sites, road maintenance and repair, though you may a lot of them as well in the quarry and mining sites.
- Take a training course on heavy equipment operation – You can take the training by enrolling in a class offered by a technical school or community college. In Oklahoma, the list of the heavy equipment operator schools are mentioned above, find the one that suits your need. The criteria for choosing the right one are also stated above so that you can have a guide in finding the best school.
- Take the classroom training and practical exercises – the duration of the training may last up to 12 weeks depending on some factors. During that period, you will undergo classroom training and practical exercises on the field. You will learn the concepts and theories and practical experience.
- Get the necessary certification – if you want to be a crane operator, you will need CCO certification and if you want to be in the construction industry, you will be required to have an NCCER certificate, attaining such certification requires you to pass the written test and practical exam. Having a certification can boost your chance of landing a good job and be given a good salary offer.
How Much Does It Cost Taking the Heavy Equipment Operator Course
As you might expect, taking the heavy equipment training course isn’t cheap. A typical training may set you back $8,500 to $13,000.
The duration of the course stretches from 4 to 8 weeks depending on your skill level and the types of equipment you want to get training on. The training allows participants to operate different types of machinery on the field such as backhoes, skid loaders, excavators, rollers, bulldozers, and other types of heavy machinery.
Other expenses that you may have to pay are the cost of getting certification and license. If you want to be a crane operator in Oklahoma, you have to have CCO certification in which you have to pass the NCCCO certification training tests. While licensure will depend on the state you want to work in, there could be an added cost in getting a license.
Getting into the construction industry as a heavy equipment operator does involve a certain kind of certification. You need to have an NCCER certificate and it has corresponding fees and costs. Follow his page to see the fees.
Other expenditures are the room and lodge and training materials. Personal protective equipment such as safety boots, glasses, hard hats is required that could add up to your expenses.
Taking the Apprenticeship Training Program
An apprenticeship program is 4,000-hour long and it can be completed in three (3) years that comprises of both classroom and practical training, though you will spend most of your time in the field.
The basic requirements you need to have to get accepted for an apprenticeship training is you need to be at least 18 years old and above, in possession of a high school diploma, have attained an initial heavy equipment operator certificate, be a US citizen or at least holding a permanent resident status, be physically fit to perform the job of an operating engineer.
You can apply as an operating engineer apprentice in the IUOE local 123 in Welch and, local 627 in Tulsa.
Getting accepted as an apprentice involves passing a test. The test usually focused on the main three aspects: mechanical reasoning, reading comprehension, mathematical reasoning. Just like any other test, its purpose is to measure the applicant’s qualification to become an operator engineer apprentice. You can do practice tests and browse through study guides to help you pass the apprenticeship tests. It can considerably contribute to the successful result of taking the tests.
What are the Qualifications Needed for the Job as a Heavy Equipment Operator
- Training and certification in the operation of heavy equipment such as excavator, bulldozer, steer loader, backhoe, trailer and dump truck. Certification will be the top requirement by the employer, make sure you got what it takes to qualify for the job.
- In possession of a high school diploma or a GED certificate as proof of education. It is a preferred requirement by the company during the application process.
- Having a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is definitely a competitive advantage. The employer prefers those candidates with such license to be able to operate or drive equipment to and from the worksite.
- If you have the experience and skill to operate different types of machinery, it will be your great benefit. You can make negotiation with the employer for a better hourly wage and additional perks.
- In some circumstances, the employer may ask you to undergo background and substance abuse checks as part of the pre-employment application process.
- In order to ensure that you are in good physical and health condition, you may be required to take the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical test.
Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator Working in Oklahoma
According to the latest March 28, 2023 report of Salary.com, a heavy equipment operator working in Oklahoma can receive an average salary of $65,851 per year.
The annual salary usually stretches from $55,006 and $74,704 depending on some factors such as the location of work, acquired education and certification and length of experience, and other additional skills that can be used in the job.
The work location is a crucial factor in determining how much you would earn. Here are the cities of Oklahoma that pay well:
You can expect long term and fruitful career being a heavy equipment operator. The US BLS has projected that the demand for this trade will be in demand until the year 2022 or even beyond that. One of the contributory factors for this are that baby boomers retiring, construction works are in full swing and there are not many people going into this profession.
To Make a Summary
The shortage of qualified workforce makes this career hot today. Being a heavy equipment operator does take skills. You need to have the education and experience to be one.
You can have the qualification and skills by taking a training course offered by a heavy equipment operator school in Oklahoma.
With the flourishing construction and oil and gas industries of the state, this is the perfect time to go into this profession.
Encourage yourself, go get a rewarding and long-lasting career being a heavy equipment operator.
Cities and Towns of OK
Norman, Broken Arrow, Lawton, Edmond, Moore, Midwest City, Enid, Stillwater, Muskogee, Bartlesville, Shawnee, Owasso, Ponca City, Ardmore, Duncan, Yukon, Del City, Bixby, Sapulpa, Altus, Bethany, Sand Springs, Claremore, McAlester, Mustang, Jenks, Ada, El Reno, Chickasha, Durant, Tahlequah, Miami, Okmulgee, Woodward, Elk City, Guymon, Choctaw, Weatherford, Glenpool, Guthrie, Warr Acres, Coweta, Pryor, Clinton, The Village, Sallisaw, Poteau, Wagoner, Cushing, Newcastle, Blanchard, Seminole, Skiatook, Catoosa, Blackwell, Idabel, Anadarko, Grove, Noble, Tecumseh, Pauls Valley, Tuttle, Henryetta, Purcell, Holdenville, Vinita, Piedmont, Collinsville, Hugo, Perry, Watonga, Harrah, Lone Grove