Heavy Machine Operator School and College Information

Aspiring heavy machine operators maintain, operate and repair equipment such as backhoes, dump trucks, tractors and excavators through completing apprenticeship programs, on-the-job experiences or academic training. Diploma, certificate and associate degree programs are available across the U.S. for heavy machine operators.

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Heavy machine operators run and repair equipment such as tractors and excavators. Aspiring operators typically earn a diploma, certificate or associate's degree.

Schools with Heavy Equipment Programs

The following schools offer heavy equipment programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
Flathead Valley Community College Kalispell, Montana 2-year, Public Certificate $3,964 In-district
$5,337 In-state
$11,105 Out-of-state
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo, Iowa 2-year, Public Diploma $4,466 In-state
$5,166 Out-of-state
Southern Maine Community College South Portland, Maine 2-year, Public Certificate $3,694 In-state
$6,394 Out-of-state
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, Pennsylvania 4-year, Public Associate's $15,810 In-state
$22,470 Out-of-state
South Seattle College Seattle, Washington 4-year, Public Certificate
$4,130 In-state
$9,550 Out-of-state
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, North Carolina 2-year, Public Diploma
$2,768 In-state
$8,912 Out-of-state
Butte College Oroville, California 2-year, Public Certificate $1,364 In-state
$6,404 Out-of-state
Central Arizona College Coolidge, Arizona 2-year, Public Certificate
$2,460 In-state
$10,740 Out-of-state
Hazard Community and Technical College Hazard, Kentucky 2-year, Public Diploma
$3,624 In-state
$12,456 Out-of-state

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Heavy machine operators can find training programs at 2-year community and technical colleges throughout the U.S. Students should consider the following:

  • Diploma and certificate programs can be completed in as little as one semester whereas associate's degree programs are longer and include a wider variety of courses.
  • Some programs may focus more strongly on repair techniques, so students should look for a curriculum that includes this content.
  • Students may want to consider enrolling in programs that offer a great deal of hands-on opportunities and access to a wide variety of heavy equipment.
  • Schools with high placement rates may offer programs for direct employment upon graduation.

Diploma in Heavy Equipment Operation

Diploma programs incorporate coursework in servicing and operation of heavy machinery, safety procedures and blueprint reading.

Certificate in Heavy Equipment Operation

A certificate program in heavy equipment operation typically takes less than one year and includes hands-on experiences working with heavy equipment such as backhoes, bulldozers and excavators via internship opportunities.

Associate's Degree in Heavy Equipment Operation

Associate's degree programs in heavy equipment operation include general education courses that students can transfer to bachelor's degree programs. Prior to entrance into some programs, students must submit to a physical and drug screening.

Heavy equipment operation programs are available at the diploma, certificate and associate's degree levels. These programs cover topics such as mechanical theory, welding, safety procedures, math and blueprint reading.

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