How to Take Heavy Equipment Operator Training in Nebraska Are you planning to become a heavy equipment operator in Nebraska and join an ever-growing industry? Well, you surely must realize your plan. This could be the advancement you are searching for.

The first step you need to do in pursuing this career is by taking a training program. Whether you are a novice or an experienced, completing the heavy equipment training program can give you an outstanding advantage.
With this program, you will acquire the basic skills necessary to perform the job and secure entry-level employment in the construction industry.

It is no secret that employers are looking for qualified candidates to become part of their workforce. You should have the qualifications they’re looking for.

If you don’t yet what to do, in this article, we’ll guide you. So, read on...



Taking the Heavy Equipment Training

If you are in crossroads and considering a profession as a heavy equipment operator, you may be thinking about what are the moves to take to start. Don’t get overwhelmed, here are what you need to do:

  • Make a decision if this job is the one you want to pursue. You probably have a number of careers you want to delve into at this point. Choosing a career takes time to think about, you don’t want to commit a mistake. Coming up with the right decision will help you succeed in the path you’ve chosen. Here’s a guide if being a heavy equipment operator is the job that fits you. Just remember, spending time to position yourself prior to getting a new job is important.

  • Find a training school near your location where you can enroll in a course. The list of training schools in Nebraska is listed below for your reference. There are a few such schools in Nebraska; although you have the option to take the training in another neighboring state.

  • Take the classroom instructions. The theory training happens inside the classroom. Inside the classroom, you have the chance to interact with the instructor and discuss some ideas and problems with fellow students. The skills enhancements and career guidance, prevailing government rules and regulations, and other topics are also being discussed during the classroom training.

  • Take Practical training. The instructor will supply hands-on training using a variety of equipment such as scrapers, loaders, backhoes, motor graders, dozers, excavators, etc. The contents of this are equipment inspection and maintenance, actual operation on 5 major types of equipment, workplace safety and health, 10 and 20- hour OSHA Certification, and other subjects that may be deemed necessary. The trainees will also be taught grade checking using hand and lasers signal and the modern use of GPS.

  • Upon successful completion of the heavy equipment training course, the trainees will receive an operator certificate. Some schools may require students to undergo written exams and practical tests to gauge the knowledge they have gained from the course when you pass those, you’ll get your certificate.

  • Get the necessary NCCER certification if you would like to be employable. Obtaining this credential requires you to pass the NCCER certification exams. The course you’ve taken from the school will prepare you to pass this. So, why NCCER? Because it enhances your employment opportunities since the NCCER credential is the one being sought by the employer.

Requirements to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

Gathering the requirements is important in the process of understanding what you need to have/be for the job as a heavy equipment operator. Here are some of the important requirements to keep you on the right path:

  • The very minimum you need is to be at least 18 years old of age and there’s no upper age limit. If you are an individual who is aspiring to be a heavy equipment operator and you have an interest to work with these machines, and outdoor, you are at better standing to become successful.

  • You need to have a high school diploma or GED certificate as its equivalent qualification. This will be required from you upon school enrollment and during a job application. So it is vital to have this credential with you before getting into this profession.

  • Complete initial training on heavy equipment operation. This is where the school comes in. The school will supply you with professional training in a controlled environment so that you can do it in a safe and secure manner. The school will also prepare you to obtain your certification and even in career guidance and employment assistance.

  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL) will give you the edge of getting favored by employers as they prefer to hire job candidates with such credentials. The CDL will enable you to operate heavy equipment and trailer trucks on the public road to and from the job site. If you don’t have a CDL yet, read this guide

  • You need to be physically fit and in excellent health condition. Heavy equipment operators must meet certain physical and medical requirements in order to get accepted for the job such as vision and hearing and the physical ability to perform the actual job. As part of the employer hiring process, you may be required to take DOT physical test.



Heavy Equipment Operator School in Nebraska

  • Central Community College
    1308 2nd Street, PO Box 856, Holdrege, NE 68949-0856; 308-995-8133; FAX: 308-995-5695
    1215 30th Ave., PO Box 310, Kearney, NE 68848-0310; 308-338-4000, FAX: 308-338-4022
    1501 Plum Creek Parkway, PO Box 827, Lexington, NE 68850-0827; 308-324-8480, FAX: 308-324-8480

  • Nebraska Local Technical Assistance Program
    650 J Street, Suite 215 A, Lincoln, NE 68508
    Contact: 402-472-5748, 402-472-0685

  • Patriot Crane & Rigging LLC
    Headquarters is located in Omaha, NE
    Phone: 712-249-4598, Fax: 402-745-1074

  • International Union of Operating Engineers IUOE Local 571
    4660 S. 60th Ave. Omaha NE 68117 US
    Contact: (402) 733-1600; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



How Much Does It Cost You

It is a true fact that going through a training program to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge always requires some investment, the same goes if you want to take a heavy equipment training course.

The average amount you have to spend is somewhere between $8,000 to $12,000. This is serious money and it would burn a hole in your pocket but you could easily recuperate your investment considering the amount of wage you can make as a heavy equipment operator. Heavy equipment operators make around $45,000 to $48,000 per year. If you are skilled in operating multiple types of heavy equipment, you have a better chance of receiving a higher wage offer.

If the tuition is a big hindrance for you because you don’t have the upfront cash to pay it, the school may have a flexible financing option you can avail to make it easy to enroll in the course. A career loan could also be an option you can benefit from, you should be aware that the school may conduct a background check on you to verify your record such as credit history, and conviction, and other data.

There are a number of grants you can be qualified, to name a few: Workforce Investment Act (WIA), National Farmworkers Jobs Program (NFJP), Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), Vocational Rehabilitation Displaced Farmers, Displaced Workers, Department of Workforce Development, Veteran's Benefits (VA) Tribal Education (BIA).



How Long Does It Take to Complete the Course

A short course may take around 8 to 12 weeks but an associate degree, when taken in the vocational school, it may be completed in 1-2 years. While the apprenticeship program is also a good option to pursue, it could take 3-4 years to complete, see below for more information.

The coverage of the course includes classroom lectures and on-the-job training. Most of the time you’ll do the on-the-job training, this part of the course allows you to gain the practical experience to work with the heavy equipment, you’ll start in simulation and once you are familiarized with the use, the supervisor will then let you operate the real machine in the training area.

How to Become an Apprentice

Being an apprentice is another way to become a heavy equipment operator. You usually enroll in the apprenticeship program offered by a local trade union or sponsoring contractor. In Nebraska, the IEOE Local 571 offer such programs to local residents. If you would like to make an inquiry or send an application, their address and contact information is above for your reference. If, as of the moment they’re not accepting applicants yet, just keep an eye on them, they open their vacancies anytime.

The apprenticeship program usually lasts for about 3-4 years of extensive field training. Being an apprentice is a great way to learn field experience while getting paid as an entry-level operator. Your wage may vary considerably depending on work location, you need to contact Local 571 to know about this specific concern. But usually, the starting salary of an apprentice is at 40% to 60% of the wage of a journeyman.



Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator Training in Nebraska

If you are in Nebraska and you want to work here as a heavy equipment operator, the average salary you would get averages at $64,240 but it ranges from $53,718 and $72,876. These figures are based on the March 28, 2023 report of Salary.Com.

Alvo $65,162 -- Milford $65,162
Axtell $64,736 Nickerson  $65,321
Bellevue $66,232 Omaha $66,232
Bennet $65,344 Palmyra $65,101 
Cortland $64,919 Plattsmouth $65,747
Crete $65,101 Raymond  $65,647 
Denton $65,647 Roca  $65,526
Eagle $65,344 Rulo  $66,040
Enders $57,288 Scribner $65,321
Fort Calhoun $65,989 Sprague $65,405
Greenwood $65,223 Trenton  $67,400
Haigler $68,404 Valley $65,337
Hayes Center $67,288 Valparaiso  $65,162
Kennard $65,525 Waterloo  $65,747
Lincoln  $65,647 Waverly  $65,587
Max  $68,404  Wymore $64,736


If you will work in Iowa, the salary is slightly higher.

The factors that affect your pay is the work location, experience, qualifications and, and other skills applicable to the job. If you are skilled and experienced to operate several pieces of heavy equipment, you are in better standing to negotiate your salary with the employer.

The employer would pay a premium for the right guy who has the experience and qualifications. If you are experienced, this may be your strongest point to convince the employer to hire you and negotiate your pay.

According to US BLS, If you will work in the construction industry, the demand for heavy equipment operators is expected to grow 10% until the year 2028, this is much faster than any trade occupation and the main reason is the increase of government and private sector spending on new infrastructure thus producing job vacancies in the coming years. 



If You Have Any Concerns, Contact These Authorities

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
    Lake Regency Office Building 444 Regency Parkway Drive, Suite 303, Omaha, NE 68114
    (402) 553-0171, Toll-Free (Nebraska Residents Only): 1-800-642-8963, Voice Mail: (402) 553-0174

  • National Safety Council, Nebraska
    2231, 11620 M Cir, Omaha, NE
    Phone: 402.896.0454, Toll-Free : 800.592.9004, Fax: 402.896.6331



To Make a Finalization

After completing the heavy equipment training in Nebraska, you will become more confident in the operation of these machines, you will then be efficient in the job you are doing. Qualifications and other credentials are also important as they boost your opportunity of getting hired and offer a bigger salary. Employers are looking for qualified individuals to be part of the workforce and if you have what they are looking for, you can easily land a job and training gives you a competitive edge over the rest.

Take time and effort in completing the program, don’t worry about the money, you could easily recover that amount. We wish you good luck in pursuing this career path!

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