How Do You Qualify for a Heavy Equipment Operator Job?


Quick Answer

To qualify for a heavy equipment operator job, complete an apprenticeship program, receive classroom training and obtain a commercial driver’s license. Heavy equipment operators are also known as operating engineers.

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Full Answer

Complete an apprenticeship program to receive both hands-on and in-class training. The average program lasts between three and four years and typically involves on-the-job training and instruction on multiple types of equipment. Some prospective heavy equipment operators enroll in college programs that generally last one to two years. People who complete apprenticeships usually learn about a wider variety of equipment and may have better employment opportunities than students in college programs.

College programs and apprenticeships usually have classes on safety policies and procedures. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration sets the training courses guidelines. Some programs also include instructions on how to handle and remove hazardous waste.

The hands-on training typically covers use of equipment to allow students to gain operating experience. Other instruction may include how to excavate, landscape and grade using backhoes, bulldozers and tractors.

Many training programs require students to earn a commercial driver’s license because they may need to transport machinery to and from job sites. CDL requirements vary from state to state. Students can obtain a temporary permit and later earn their license after passing driving, written and vision tests.

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