Aspiring heavy equipment operators and technicians in Pennsylvania can choose several options in the state to complete training. Most colleges, technology centers and technical schools in the state offer training in heavy equipment technology, diesel technology or heavy equipment operations through adult education and apprenticeships or certificate and diploma programs. Internship opportunities are provided by some schools.
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology
Founded in 1969, this Pleasant Gap school serves over 1,300 students every year. Through the adult and continuing education division, students can complete a training course in heavy equipment operations. By taking this course, students can also earn their class A commercial license. The program includes training in how to operate and maintain various construction equipment. Students learn about tasks performed on building construction sites such as back-filling, excavating and trench digging. A diesel technician program is also available.
Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
Located in Pittsburgh, CCAC is the largest educational services provider in western Pennsylvania and offers a four-year apprenticeship certificate program through the North campus in Oakdale. The 45-credit program is offered through a sponsorship with the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) of the Western Pennsylvania Operating Engineers. The program includes courses in equipment operations, regulations and safety. The curriculum also includes a five-credit recertification course in CPR/first aid and industrial safety.
Forbes Road Career and Technology Center
Adult students at this Monroeville school can enroll in a diesel technology program to prepare for employment working with heavy equipment and trucks. The program is offered during the day and runs for 36 weeks. Students spend 900 hours of training primarily working on diesel engine equipment. In addition to hands-on training working on the school's heavy equipment and vehicles, coursework examines braking and steering systems, climate control systems and electrical systems. Completion of the program qualifies students for the Pennsylvania State Engine Inspector and the State Safety Inspection Mechanic certifications.
Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center
This Johnstown school offers a diploma training program in mobile equipment operations technology for students interested in learning how to operate earth-moving heavy equipment. The program is offered as an adult education program during the daytime. Students complete 800 hours of training for six months on how to use equipment such as aerial platforms, forklifts and mobile cranes. Upon completion of the program, students may qualify to receive the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certification, a commercial driver's license and a fork truck card.
Founded in 1912, this Scranton school offers 13 trade programs and serves over 400 students. The college offers a 72-credit diesel truck technology program that teaches students how to perform diagnostic maintenance and repair service. Students learn how to perform work such as tune-ups, refrigeration and transmission service. Students who complete this degree are eligible to become certified with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) by taking the voluntary exam for mechanics. The college also offers a diesel preventative maintenance technology certificate program aimed at preparing students to work as general repair technicians and brake service technicians at companies that operate heavy-duty trucks and equipment.
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center
Aspiring heavy equipment operators can complete a certificate program in highway construction/heavy equipment operation and maintenance at the main campus in Willow Street. The program is offered full-time during the day and is open to high school seniors and post-secondary adult students. The 1080-hour program is certified by the NCCER and meets the educational standards of the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated Pennsylvania Construction Contractors. The training focuses on equipment used in construction and excavation, and students practice their skills at a training site. Students can also learn about heavy equipment by completing a certificate program in diesel equipment technology at the Willow Street campus.
Lebanon County Area Vocational Technical School
Located in the city of Lebanon, this institution offers technical career training for high school students and adults. The 910-hour, full-day program in diesel truck technology provides instruction in repairing components such as brakes, drive trains, engines and electrical systems. Students gain practical skills by learning how to repair and rebuild used heavy-duty trucks.
Pennsylvania College of Technology (PCT)
Part of Pennsylvania State University since 1989, PCT serves over 6,000 students in the Williamsport area. Through the School of Natural Resources Management, students have the opportunity to earn an associate's degree in heavy construction equipment technology in one of three areas of emphasis: Caterpillar equipment, operator or technician. Topics covered for the Caterpillar equipment specialization include electrical and electronic diagnostics, chassis maintenance and engine overhaul. In the operator emphasis, students learn to work on various types of heavy equipment and perform tasks, such as preventative maintenance, site layout and cost estimation. For the technician area of study, the coursework covers diagnosis, repair and maintenance of construction equipment. Both the Caterpillar equipment and the technician emphasis are accredited by the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and require completion of an internship.
Rosedale Technical Institute (RTI)
Founded in 1949, RTI is located in Pittsburgh. Students seeking employment in the heavy equipment field can complete a program in diesel technology. Classes are taught by instructors certified with the ASE in a state-of-the-art diesel training center and cover engine diagnostics, hydraulics and transmissions. Students learn how to work on equipment such as backhoes, forklifts and heavy-duty trucks. The associate or diploma program is geared towards preparing students to become ASE certified and obtaining their commercial class A driver's license and state inspection license.
Schuylkill Technology Center
Located in Frackville, this technology center offers a ten-week training program for aspiring heavy equipment operators. The program consists of 400 hours of training, including 20 hours on heavy equipment maintenance, 40 hours on field engineering and 60 hours on safety. A major portion of the program is the 200-hour heavy equipment field practicum, which familiarizes students with the operation of loaders, backhoes, dozers and excavators. In addition to equipment operation, students learn safety techniques, site surveying techniques, plan reading and elevation computation.
Operators of heavy equipment are typically required to earn a class A commercial drivers license (CDL). In Pennsylvania, operators must be 18 or older, provide necessary documents and pass a written and road test to earn a CDL. While there aren't any specific licensure requirements for heavy equipment mechanics in Pennsylvania, some programs may provide students with the skills and knowledge required to earn certifications in their field.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Heavy Equipment Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology||Less than two-year, public; rural|| Diesel Technician,
Heavy Equipment Operations with Class A Operators License
|Community College of Allegheny County||Two-year, public; large city||Heavy Equipment Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Certificate||$3,999 per year in-district; $7,298 per year in-state; $10,440 per year out-of-state*|
|Forbes Road Career and Technology Center||Less than two-year, public; large suburb||Diesel Technology||$6,775*|
|Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center||Less than two-year, public; small suburb||Mobile Equipment Operations Technology Diploma||$14,599*|
|Johnson College||Two-year, private not-for-profit; small city|| Diesel Truck Technology Associate in Applied Science,
Diesel Preventative Maintenance Technology Certificate
|Lancaster County Career and Technology Center||Less than two-year, public; large suburb||Heavy Equipment Operation and Basic Maintenance Skills Certificate,
Diesel Equipment Technology Skills Certificate
| $9,400 (Heavy Equipment Operation;
|Lebanon County Area Vocational Technical School||Less than two-year, public; small suburb||Diesel Truck Technology||$7,287**|
|Pennsylvania College of Technology||Four-year, public; small city||Associate of Applied Science in Heavy Construction Equipment Technology: Caterpillar Equipment, Operator and Technician||$15,810 per year in-state; $22,470 per year out-of-state*|
|Rosedale Technical Institute||Two-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb|| Diesel Technology Diploma,
Associate Degree in Specialized Technology: Diesel Technology
|Schuylkill Technology Center||Less than two-year, public; fringe rural||Heavy Equipment Operator||$9,335**|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Schools' websites