Equipment Operator Training Programs

A career as an equipment operator gives you the chance to apply your expertise to projects at construction, mining, farm, highway and excavation sites. You can choose among a variety of options for learning how to operate heavy equipment and put your training into practice. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Equipment Operator Training Is Available?

To become an equipment operator, you can earn a degree or certificate in heavy equipment operation through vocational schools and community colleges. Some schools also offer apprenticeship programs, though experience and current employment restrictions might apply for admission. Certificate programs consist of professional courses that take a year or so to complete. If you want to earn a 2-year associate degree, you'll also take some general education courses. Additionally, equipment manufacturers, such as Caterpillar and Crown Equipment, offer operator training programs through nationwide dealerships or affiliated training centers.

Program LevelsUndergraduate certificate, associate degree
Course TopicsEquipment maintenance, operating standards, terminology, interactive simulation
CertificationVehicle-specific options, commercial driver's license in each state
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians)*
Median Salary (2018)$50,320 (heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will They Teach Me?

Training programs offered through equipment manufacturers generally teach you how to use their specific equipment. You could choose to enhance your lessons to learn the operation of a variety of heavy equipment and vehicles, such as backhoes, mobile cranes, bulldozers, counterbalance trucks, wheel loaders, motor graders and dump trucks. Lessons include safety regulations and protocols, as well as industry operations standards. You can choose self-teaching methods by purchasing training materials and participating in interactive simulations on your computer; however, classroom-based programs give you direct access to the equipment, focusing your time on experience rather than theory.

Certificate and degree programs teach you how to operate and maintain heavy equipment. You'll learn how to work in a variety of settings, such as highway, construction or mining sites. Many of these programs lead to an apprenticeship that provides hands-on practice maintaining and operating heavy equipment.

Some apprentice programs require you to already be employed with the government or a construction company. Applying your equipment operating training to practical, everyday work teaches you how to perform during uncommon situations that you wouldn't necessarily encounter in a classroom setting. For instance, you'll learn hand signals and terminology that might be company-specific.

Is There Required Certification?

Certification is a voluntary validation of your heavy equipment operating skills. Depending on the type of equipment you want to work with, you can choose different certifications. Certain manufacturing companies, such as Caterpillar, provide certification on their equipment. Other organizations and unions offer certification for the operation of specific types of equipment, such as cranes or other construction vehicles.

On the other hand, in order to drive heavy equipment, you must have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Some states might also require licensure for the operation of certain equipment. Driving and operating licensure requires that you pass one ore more tests that gauge your knowledge of operations, regulations and safety procedures.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Washington-Holmes Technical Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Chipley
  • Washington County Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Maine: Calais
  • Washburn Institute of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • Kansas: Topeka
  • Uintah Basin Applied Technology College

    Campus Locations:

    • Utah: Roosevelt
  • Southern Maine Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Maine: South Portland
  • South Louisiana Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Louisiana: Lafayette
  • Somerset County Technology Center

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Somerset
  • The University of Montana

    Campus Locations:

    • Montana: Missoula
  • Santiago Canyon College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Orange