Heavy Equipment Operator Training in IllinoisHeavy equipment operators often receive a big salary and have job security in Illinois.

This is a flourishing profession. The demand for your skill is expected to grow in the next coming years.

Heavy equipment operators who are skilled and possessed the necessary certification can look forward to a better opportunity.

Getting into this job is not an easy undertaking, you have to take a heavy equipment operator training in Illinois.

The training could stretch up to 10 weeks and the cost you between $5,000 to $12,000 depending on the course curriculum.

But you can expect a good pay once you are hired. You could receive as much as $66,000 annual salary. The pay is great and lucrative. You could easily recuperate the amount of investment you put in a just short period of time.

If you are still wondering if this job is right for you, here's a guide to help you: Is Becoming a Heavy Equipment Operator the Right Job for You?

If you made the decision and you want to become heavy equipment operator, here’s what you need to do:



How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

  1. Make the decision if being a heavy equipment operator is right for you. Before anything else, you have to evaluate yourself if this type of job is what you want to do for a long time. Making the right decision is crucial so that you won’t have to regret it in the end. Here’s an article to help you decide: Is Becoming a Heavy Equipment Operator the Right Job for You?

  2. Complete the requirements. Just like any other trades, you have to have what it takes to be a heavy equipment operator. You need to have the credentials and requirements. See below the list of other requirements.

  3. Finding the right training school to take the training from. Check below is the list of training schools and technical schools in Illinois where you can enroll for the initial heavy equipment training and apprenticeship. Find one that suits your requirements.

  4. Apply for a IUOE apprenticeship program to expand your experience. Completing the initial heavy equipment training is sometimes not enough, the employer may ask you for experience you have; To gain the experience, you apply for an apprenticeship program or go to an on-the-job training.

  5. Complete other requirements such as the NCCER certification (if you will be working in the construction industry as heavy equipment operator) and the Illinois crane operator license (if you want to work with cranes since Illinois has strict rule for crane operators);

Here are the common questions you may have in mind, READ THESE:



Heavy Equipment Operator Schools in Illinois

Here are training schools in Illinois where you enroll in for a course:

Industrial Training International, Inc. – Make an inquiry first
9925 Industrial Drive, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455
call (800) 727-6355 for more information

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150
Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program
19800 West South Arsenal Road, Wilmington, Illinois 60481
P:(815) 722-3201; F: (815) 423-5749

Operating Engineers Local 520
520 Engineers Rd, Pontoon Beach, IL 62040, USA
Phone: +1 618-931-0500

Operating Engineers Local 649 ATP
6408 W. Plank Rd. Peoria, IL 61604
Phone: 309-697-1357; 309.697.0070

501 SW Jefferson Street
Peoria, IL 61614 USA

Associated Bulldozers and Contractors Inc.
Illinois Chapter (Through Learn Your Trade)
Phone: 847-709-2960

APC Crane Training
(If you would like to become a crane operator)
Has branches in Bloomington, Springfield, Peoria
Phone:(888) 501-1355

A little advice, when you searching for a school, find one that has modern equipment and has a vast training ground. You should ask the school how many students are there per class, the ideal number of student per class is fewer than 12. Ask also the school is the curriculum also includes the preparatory course for you to be able to pass the written and practical tests of NCCER (for construction site operator) or by Continental Testing Services (if you’re applying for crane license).

Here's an article on how to choose the right school to take the course from: 10 Criteria in Choosing Best Heavy Equipment Training School

Requirements You Need to Have/Be

  • You need to have the initial heavy equipment training certificate; the completion of an on-the-job training or a union apprenticeship program is a big advantage;
  • High school diploma or GED certificate;
  • You must be at the right age, 18 is the minimum age to become a heavy equipment operator;
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), though it may not be required, it would be handy if you have this ready. CDL may be needed because you have to transport machinery from and to the workplace;
  • Driver’s license may also be required;
  • Be at least 18 years old and above;
  • Some employers may require you to undergo a DOT medical test to prove that you are in good health and physical condition. The nature of the job is physically demanding, the employer just want to make sure you can do the job;
  • 2-3 years of experience; it would be difficult finding a job if you’re a new graduate that’s why if applying for a union apprenticeship program or an OJT training after taking the initial course to extend your knowledge is an absolute advantage.

Here’s an article detailing the complete list of requirements 9 Most Vital Heavy Equipment Operator Requirements Employers Want.



Applying for Crane Operator License in Chicago

Crane operation is a dangerous undertaking that’s why it is an utmost concern to ensure the safety of the operator himself and of the public as well.

Chicago is one of the cities in the United States that has a strict law in crane operation. If you want to become a crane operator and you will be working in Chicago, this city requires crane operator to have a license.

All operators of any type of crane and other hoisting heavy equipment with the rated capacity of 2,000 pounds or more must have a license. To see the chart, click here

All applications for written and practical tests and issuance of a license are to be submitted to the Continental Testing Services. For inquiry you may contact them at 800) 359-1313 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Crane Operator’s Written Examination Class 1 and 2:

As of this writing, the fee for the issuance of the initial license is $100; if you will be taking a written exam, the fee you will pay is $150, the same if you will retake the written test. The annual renewal is $100 while the five years renewal of the crane operator license is $300. If you have late renewal, the fee you have to bear is $100, plus $100 for each year you have not renewed it. For lost and replacement, the fee is $25.

Crane Operator’s Practical Examination Class 1 and 2:

If you will be taking the practical test, the fee for taking it is $250 (with 2 attempts), the same amount is to be paid if you want to retake the practical test (with 2 attempts as well). If you want to have an upgrade and 3 reclassifications on your license, the fee is $50.

This is the cost to be paid for license ID card application and not the amount to pay for the practical test.

If you are holding an old crane operator license, you have to convert it into a new one. Here’s a conversion chart, see here

Offense and Penalty

If you are individual who is found operating a crane without the proper license, you could be fined from $1,000 up to $10,000. For each day that you don’t have a license with you can be treated as a separate offense. The penalty is heavier.

If you are a company and you are allowing your workers to operate the crane without the license, your fine could be from $2,000 to $30,000. The same, for each day of operation you’re allowing your workers to operate the crane without the license, is a separate offense which means the penalty to impost could be more serious.



Benefits of Becoming Certified Heavy Equipment Operator

  • You can boost your chance of getting employment very easily plus the factor that you can be given a good pay if you have the proper certification;

  • You are more likely retained by your employer if the times of doing business become tough and difficult;

  • You are more satisfied doing the work of a heavy equipment operator; there are many factors contributing to this: two of the factors are good pay and long-term employment;

  • Good benefits package; you could receive benefits such as healthcare (dental, medical, prescription medicine, etc), insurance package for disability and accident, paid vacation for every year, good retirement plan, and many others.

  • Additionally, the employers may pay for your tuition if they want you to have more certifications and licenses;

Before you continue reading this article, here some resources to help you in becoming a heavy equipment operator:



Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator Working in Illinois

As of March 28, 2023 of report Salary.com, the average salary of heavy equipment operators in this state is $71,496 per year. Here are also the towns and cities of Illinois that give good pay.

Arlington Heights $72,218 Naperville $72,543
Aurora $73,275 Normal $67,109
Blue Island $73,732 Oak Lawn $73,816
Bolingbrook $72,295 Oak Park $73,900
Champaign $66,440 Orland Park $71,776
Chicago $73,900 Palatine $72,301
Chicago Heights $69,826 Peoria $67,665
Deerfield $71,807 Rock Island $65,669
Des Plaines $73,704 Rockford $68,989
Elgin $72,704 Schaumburg $73,142
Evanston $73,872 Skokie $73,872
Glenview $73,732  South Beloit  $68,877
Hoffman Estates $73,262 Steger $69,798
Joliet $72,025 Tinley Park $71,619
Minooka $72,926 Waukegan $70,002
Mount Morris $68,597 Wheaton $72,679

If you will work in Indiana, the wage is a little lower.


Do you want to know how much salary you can make if you will work in other state or city?, READ this:

The salary of heavy equipment operator varies depending on many factors such as your skill and experience level, size of the company you will be working for, your competency and training credentials; other factors that determined the wage are location or economy you will be working in and employment longevity.

This one of the reasons why formal training is so essential when you want to be a heavy equipment operator. You can be offered a better pay if you have the certification.

The construction industry is always in need of qualified people, the demand will never cease. You need to have the certification and licensure plus a good attitude as a good operator, you will be off to a prosperous career.



To Conclude This

If you want a job that has a lot of benefits and perks, then being a heavy equipment operator should be your number one choice.

Though you have put the effort and spend investment to take and complete the heavy equipment training in Illinois, it will prepare you for what lies ahead. It is worth it.

You could find yourself working in construction sites and building projects. These industries have the most demand for the skill like you have, likewise, they also pay the operators well.

It is a lucrative job that you can enjoy in the years to come.

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