Heavy Equipment Training Programs in California

Research heavy equipment training in California, which currently has more than 10 schools offering programs. Read an overview of training programs, tuition info and other program options for these schools to decide which program is right for you.

Essential Information

California-based training programs for aspiring operators are offered primarily at 2-year colleges in the state. Students learn how to safely operate excavators, cranes, bulldozers and backhoes through apprenticeships as well as certificate and associate's degree programs. Some schools offer heavy equipment training programs through their continuing education divisions.

The curricula of these programs may include classroom assignments along with simulated training and on-site education that provide extensive opportunities for hands-on practice. To successfully complete the programs, students may be required to pass a drug test and obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). The following ten California schools offer heavy equipment training programs that include diesel and farm equipment service and repair, heavy equipment operator technician, medium and heavy diesel -truck technology, and heavy equipment maintenance specialist.

Allan Hancock College

Through a contract with the Santa Barbara County Operating Engineers Trades Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria offers a 6,000-hour operating engineers apprenticeship program. In addition to extensive on-the-job training, this program includes instruction at the college's training facility on Camp San Luis Reserve Base. Students obtain training in specific areas, such as rock sand and gravel operation, heavy-duty repair and plant equipment operation. Focus is also on safety while on the job. Applicants must pass a written entrance exam. Students can complete this program in three years and six months.

Bakersfield College

Bakersfield College, which is located in Bakersfield, offers a 17-unit diesel and farm equipment service and repair certificate that consists of two classes designed to be taken concurrently. The 12-unit diesel & heavy equipment technician training consists of 450 hours of training, in which students learn to repair heavy equipment. The training, which is both lecture and lab, covers topics like tool usage, safety, air conditioning, welding, troubleshooting and maintenance. The five-unit occupational readiness course helps prepare students to join the workforce and be successful in their areas of specialization. The student develops communication, computer and technical skills needed to obtain and maintain employment. This program is aimed at students enrolled in the Employer's Training Resource Program (ETR).

Butte College

Butte College in Oroville has a heavy equipment operator technician certificate program that takes one year to complete. Students in this program obtain knowledge and troubleshooting skills need to operate and repair heavy equipment. The program includes lab courses that provide the student with hands-on training that prepares him or her for entry-level work in the industry. The school has partnerships with local and statewide contractors, agricultural businesses, the Operating Engineers Local 3 and CalTrans - all companies where graduates may obtain employment.

Citrus College

Citrus College is located in Glendora and offers a medium and heavy diesel truck technology program that results in the student earning a certificate of achievement upon completion. This two-semester program provides students with hands-on learning as they work with trainers, simulators and various types of over-the-road medium and heavy diesel equipment. Course topics in this one-year program include automatic/manual transmissions, engine/computer controls, air/hydraulic brakes, fuel systems, power training and accessory power units. Citrus College's Regional Medium and Heavy Truck Technology Center offers state-of-the-art equipment that includes a large spray booth, full electrical service and nine service bays. The center is the largest in the state.

Palomar College

The Trade and Industry Department at Palomar College in San Marcos has a diesel mechanics technology program that offers the student the choice of earning a certificate of achievement or an Associate in Science in Diesel Mechanics Technology. Students take courses in heavy-duty electricity, air brake systems, truck transmissions, basic hydraulics and welding. A two-part diesel rebuilding course teaches students to inspect, clean, disassemble and reassemble engine parts, while providing instruction in piston service, cylinder head service, and measuring and machining techniques. Students pursuing the associate degree must also complete general education and elective courses to meet the 60-unit degree requirement. These two-year programs also include cooperative education.

Rio Hondo College

Located in Whittier, Rio Hondo College offers heavy equipment training through its career and technical education department. Students can choose to earn a certificate of achievement or an associate degree; the degree requires students to complete general education courses. The heavy equipment training program provides students with classroom instruction and hands-on experience working with heavy equipment. Before studying heavy equipment maintenance, including diesel engines, fuel systems, and hydraulic systems, students learn safety techniques and the use of various tools and pieces of equipment. The program includes instruction in workplace safety and two courses in power train fundamentals, and how power flows through a heavy engine. This training program includes an internship at a local business where the student can obtain hands-on training in his or her area of interest. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in heavy equipment maintenance.

San Diego City College

San Diego City College in San Diego offers several construction equipment operator courses for apprentices in the field of heavy equipment operation (HEOP). This apprenticeship is part of the Solar Turbines, Inc apprenticeship program. To be eligible to take these courses, students must be enrolled in a state-approved apprenticeship program in that particular trade. Through these lecture and lab courses, students learn about safety, working around others and how to operate various types of heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders, telescoping excavators and other earth-moving equipment. These courses can lead to an associate degree in heavy equipment - a program that's part of the Solar Turbines, Incorporated Apprenticeship program.

San Diego Miramar College

The Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy Program (ATTE) at San Diego Miramar College in San Diego has a diesel technology program that offers several programs related to heavy equipment training. The school offers short-term certificate programs in Caterpillar engine repair, Detroit diesel engine repair, Detroit diesel engine overhaul, diesel equipment repair technology, heavy equipment technology, heavy equipment undercarriage systems and heavy equipment powertrains. Additionally, associate degree programs in heavy duty transportation technology, heavy equipment technology and San Diego Transit general mechanic are offered. These programs prepare students for entry-level positions working on diesel or heavy equipment.

San Joaquin Delta College

San Joaquin Delta College, with campuses in Stockton, Manteca and Mountain House, offers certificate of achievement programs for diesel and automotive diesel technicians, as well as a diesel equipment technician associate degree program. Through various lecture/lab classes, students cover topics including diesel engines and fuel systems, mobile hydraulics, diesel air conditioning and basic welding. Students also learn about computer diagnosis and troubleshooting.

The 26-unit diesel technician certificate program is two semesters long and the 35-unit diesel technician program takes three semesters to complete. To earn the associate degree, students must also complete general education courses. Upon completion of either of these programs, students have the skills for certification at state and national levels in Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Emissions by the State of California Air Resource Board, and Air Conditioning Certification by the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Santa Ana College

Santa Ana College, located in Santa Ana, offers diesel and heavy equipment technology training in a certificate and an associate degree option. Through lecture and lab courses, students gain the knowledge to obtain entry-level positions as apprentices, diesel mechanics, truck drivers or heavy equipment operators. Students learn about heavy-duty diesel engines, electrical and fuel systems, brake systems, steering and suspension, chassis overhaul and powertrains. Instruction in oxyacetylene and arc welding is also included as part of the curriculum. To earn the associate degree, students must complete general education and elective courses to satisfy the 60-unit degree requirement.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Heavy Equipment Training Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Allan Hancock College Two-year, public; small city Operating Engineers (Heavy Equipment) Apprenticeship Vocational Training Program $1,346 in-state; $6,750 out-of-state*
Bakersfield College Two-year, public; large city Diesel and Farm Equipment Service and Repair Certificate of Completion $1,326 in-state; $8,102 out-of-state*
Butte College Two-year, public; distant rural Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Certificate of Achievement $1,364 in-state; $6,404 out-of-state*
Citrus College Two-year, public; large suburb Medium and Heavy Diesel -Truck Technology Certificate $1,174 in-state; $6,550 out-of-state*
Palomar College Two-year, public; large suburb Diesel Mechanics Technology Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Diesel Mechanics Technology
$1,338 in-state; $7,078 out-of-state*
Rio Hondo College Two-year, public; large suburb Heavy Equipment Maintenance Specialist Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Heavy Equipment Technology
$1,360 in-state; $6,960 out-of-state*
San Diego City College Two-year, public; large city Associate in Science in Heavy Equipment Operator Apprenticeship $1,142 in-state; $4,670 out-of-state*
San Diego Miramar College Two-year, public; large city Diesel Technology Program $1,142 in-state; $4,670 out-of-state*
San Joaquin Delta College Two-year, public; large city Diesel Equipment Technician Certificate,
Associate in Science, Diesel Equipment Technician
$1,104 in-state; $6,312 out-of-state*
Santa Ana College Two-year, public; large city Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology Certificate,
Associate in Science in Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology
$1,142 in-state; $6,902 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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