How do you become licensed as a heavy equipment operator?


Quick Answer

In most states, licensing as a heavy equipment operator requires securing a commercial driver's license, which includes verification of basic knowledge, a clean driving record, medical authorization and successful completion of skills and road tests. Operator licensing also involves successful completion of additional state and federally required exams and certifications.

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Full Answer

The state's manual for those pursuing a commercial driver's license covers the information and driving maneuvers included in the driving tests.

At the federal level, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that crane and derrick operators hold a certification that complies with its standards and is awarded by a nationally recognized agency, such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. This training and certification testing varies based on the type and capacity of the equipment to be operated. Several states classify pile-drivers as cranes and require that pile-driver operators hold the same certification.

Some states waive state-specific requirements for those who hold the approved OSHA certification. Other states require the completion of an apprenticeship and state-specific exams. Apprenticeship programs are available through vocational schools, community colleges and the International Union of Operating Engineers. Typically three to four years long, these programs combine classroom work with time at job sites.

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