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Learn to Operate a Bulldozer: Training Options and Requirements

Heavy equipment operators use bulldozers to level construction sites and grade highway construction sites. Training is accomplished in several ways; read below to find out more.

How Do I Learn to Operate a Bulldozer?

Heavy equipment training can be acquired through trade schools, vocational schools, apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training programs. The Associated General Contractors of America and the International Union of Operating Engineers offer apprenticeship programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The apprenticeship programs take approximately three years to complete, including classroom training. The BLS reports that apprenticeship programs are advantageous because apprentices may be exposed to a larger variety of equipment and can practice their skills.

What Does Formal Education Cover?

Certificate programs at technical schools and community colleges prepare students to operate and maintain heavy equipment in a variety of occupations. Training is often provided on a large tract of land using industry-standard heavy equipment. Students learn how to operate, maintain and repair this equipment. They also practice troubleshooting and repairing drive trains, external engine components, hydraulic systems and running gear while complying with safety regulations. In addition, some schools offer Red Cross, CPR or first-aid training that leads to certification in those areas.

Is Certification or Licensure Required?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a bulldozer operator may need a commercial driver's license to haul equipment to a construction site. States may also individually require and offer licensure, which designates professionals as eligible for employment.

Certification, although not required, shows a potential employer that a certified applicant has proven skills - some employers may consider it mandatory. The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools and the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators are just two examples of organizations that offer voluntary certification.

What Is the Job Outlook?

Retiring operators and those leaving for senior positions may provide job opportunities for incoming bulldozer operators. The BLS expects the number of jobs for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators will grow 19% during the decade 2012-2022, which is faster than the national average. As of 2012, the median salary among all construction equipment operators was $40,980, per the BLS.

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