A Guide to Becoming a Heavy Machinery Operator

Heavy equipment operators are essential workers in the construction industry. They have monumental contributions in erecting houses and commercial structures, paving roads, building bridges, and many more. Almost every construction project needs a heavy machinery operator to handle backhoes, bulldozers, cranes, excavators, and loaders.

To become a heavy equipment operator, you need extensive training and field experience. Read on to know more about how you can learn to operate various heavy equipment.

Earn a high school diploma or GED.

If you’re 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED, you can enter apprenticeship programs or technical schools designed for heavy machine operators. Mathematics and other high school courses will certainly be helpful during the training.

Sign up for heavy equipment training.

You have two options: enter a union or state apprenticeship program or enroll in a college or technical school. Both will provide courses and trainings that will prepare you for your licensure and certification exams. The trainings are designed to equip you with technical and practical knowledge in handling heavy machinery.

Union and State Apprenticeships

In apprenticeships, you will have classroom and on-the-job training. The program is open to all students with little to no experience. Compared to schools, apprenticeships offer more hands-on training because you will spend a lot of time in the field with experienced operators. You will learn to operate a wide range of heavy equipment.

During the apprenticeship, you can earn 45-60 percent of a full journeyman’s wage. After three to four years, you can be eligible for certification and earn the full salary of a professional heavy machinery operator.

College and Technical Schools

In college and technical schools, the depth of your learning depends on the course or package you enrolled in. It takes 8-10 weeks to finish heavy equipment training. Just like apprenticeships, these institutions provide classroom and practical training.

During the classroom lectures, you will learn safety procedures and policies, equipment maintenance and repair, civil engineering concepts, emergency and crash management, and more. Normally, these concepts are a prerequisite to hands-on training.

The practical training involves applying what you learned in the classroom to the field. This includes learning motor engine operation, refueling and battery recharging, conducting worksite inspections, and more. You will also be trained to operate excavators, loaders, dozers, graders, and backhoes.

Be licensed and certified.

Heavy equipment operators need a certificate or license before they can operate heavy machinery. Licensing exams have written and practical components to test your mechanical aptitude, math and problem-solving skills, machinery knowledge, and eye-to-hand coordination. Certifications will last for five years, and then you’ll have to go through a renewal process to maintain your license.

Now, you’re ready!

After obtaining a license, you will now be eligible to operate machines from heavy equipment rental companies like Rabern Rentals. We have a great inventory of heavy machinery perfect for every construction venture. Contact us today to learn more.