Heavy Construction Equipment Operator Certification and Training Info

Oct 18, 2019

Many heavy construction equipment operators learn their trade on-the-job, but certificate and associate's degree programs are offered. Courses cover safety protocols and equipment types, among other important topics.

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Essential Information

A certificate program for heavy construction equipment operating provides students with the technical instruction and training needed to operate bulldozers, front end loaders, dump trucks, backhoes, excavators and other types of construction equipment. These programs combine classroom and hands-on practical training and can be completed in two semesters of study.

Associate's degree programs in heavy construction equipment technology contain many of the same core courses as certificate programs in the field. They also include college-level courses in mathematics, business communications and information technology. Students in an associate's degree program receive more advanced training in construction equipment design, electronics, maintenance and modification.

Applicants to both programs must have a high school diploma or GED and a valid driver's license. Passing a drug screening and qualification for a commercial driver's license may also be necessary.

Certificate Programs in Heavy Construction Equipment Operating

These programs contain classroom lectures on protocol and procedures. Possible course topics may include:

  • Heavy equipment operation
  • Job site health and safety practices
  • Welding
  • Reading blueprints

Associate's Programs in Heavy Construction Equipment Technology, Operator Emphasis

In addition to core courses, these programs also sometimes include advanced technical courses in equipment systems. Some examples include:

  • Diesel engine systems
  • Machine electronics
  • Safe operating procedures
  • Equipment maintenance and repair
  • Trenching equipment
  • Tractor operation

Popular Career Options

Construction equipment operators can have various titles and specializations in the field. Some of these might include:

  • Crane and tower operator
  • Paving and surface equipment operator
  • Piledriver operator
  • Tractor truck driver

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators held 383,480 positions across the country in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The primary employers of these engineers and construction equipment operators are specialty trade contractors, construction firms and government agencies. Jobs are expected to grow by 10% between 2018 and 2028, the BLS also noted. The mean annual salary for these professionals was $53,030 as of May 2018.

Certification Options

Many states require heavy construction equipment operators to have a commercial drivers' license. The requirements for earning a commercial license vary from state to state. Some employers also require heavy construction equipment operators to gain certification from training schools or professional associations, although this is not especially common.

Certificate programs in heavy construction equipment operating provide basic technical instruction and training, while associate's programs are advanced and include general education coursework. Both include hands-on training with real-world construction equipment.

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