Schools for Heavy Duty Equipment or Machinery Operators

Heavy duty equipment and machinery operators utilize and maintain large vehicles, bulldozers, backhoes and dump trucks in such industries as construction, mining or logging. Certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in heavy equipment technology can qualify graduates for operator and management positions.

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Heavy equipment training is available at the undergraduate level, with most schools offering short-term certificates or diplomas. These programs are commonly offered by community colleges and vocational institutions.

Schools with Heavy Equipment Programs

These colleges offer heavy equipment training programs at a variety of levels.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition
Flathead Valley Community College Kalispell, MT 2-year, Public Certificate $7,349 (total estimated tuition)**
Hawkeye Community College Waterloo, IA 2-year, Public Program for Women and Minorities, Certificate Program Free** for Women and Minorities; $9,121 (total estimated tuition for certificate program)**
Southern Maine Community College Portland, ME 2-year, Public Certificate $4,500 (total estimated program tuition)**
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, PA 2-year, Public Associate's $15,810 (In-state); $22,470 (Out-of-state)*
Butte College Oroville, CA 2-year, Public Certificate $125 (Resident per unit); $340 (Non-Resident per unit)**
Central Arizona College Coolidge, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $2,460 (In-state); $10,740 (Out-of-state)*
Hazard Community and Technical College Hazard, KY 2-year, Public Certificate, Diploma $3,624 (In-state); $12,456 (Out-of-state)*

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2015-2016 tuition; **School Websites 2016-2017 tuition

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School Selection Criteria

A number of factors should be considered when selecting a heavy equipment operation program:

  • Students may choose to look for options that allow on-site, hands-on experience with a variety of devices and machines, including apprenticeship or internships.
  • Aspiring heavy equipment operators could enroll in programs that incorporate welding techniques, vehicle repair or surveying, which could enhance professional marketability.
  • Certificate and diploma programs may be preferable for students interested in entry-level positions in the industry. Associate degree programs and some extended diploma programs may help students acquire management and administrative roles.
  • Schools may have different resources available for graduates to help them secure employment, such as interview and resume preparation assistance.

Certificate in Heavy Equipment Technology

Certificate programs in heavy equipment technology can typically be completed in 2-3 semesters. Students learn to operate backhoes, forklifts, bulldozers, trucks and other heavy machinery. Internship opportunities may also be available.

Diploma in Heavy Equipment Technology

Diploma programs in heavy equipment technology can take up to two years. Students may have the opportunity to study small business management and engage in internship opportunities.

Associate Degree in Heavy Equipment Technology

Associate degree programs in heavy equipment technology may offer a focus in management that can lead to supervisory positions in the industry. Apprenticeship or internship opportunities are commonly available.

Aspiring heavy equipment operators can choose between certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs to train to enter this career field. Most programs include an internship or apprenticeship and provide students with essential hands-on training with different types of heavy machinery.

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