Excavation Schools and Training Programs

Excavation projects involve disturbing the earth in order to build structures or construct underground systems, such as train tunnels or irrigation lines. Find out about training options, and see what you'll learn, including information about required safety classes. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Excavation is the most precarious form of construction and building work. Many excavation workers are killed every year on the job. Because of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all excavation workers to attend a safety training class before beginning work.

Classes Safety classes available online; refresher classes are mandatory, as construction excavation safety courses are required by OSHA; safety rules and procedures in emergency situations, employ rescue methods, recognize common work hazards and prevent those hazards
Training For supervisors and for all workers; offered by colleges and universities; follow safety standards of OSHA
Salary $42,500 per year (Median salary for excavating and loading machine and dragline operators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2017)

What Are the Safety Classes Like?

Safety classes in excavation are offered by employers and through some community colleges and universities. They range from 1-3 hours and are also available online. Refresher classes are mandatory every three years for supervisors. Regulations for excavation training programs are set by OSHA, along with state departments of labor and employment security. Two levels of training exist - one for 'competent workers,' which is for supervisors, and another called 'excavation awareness training' for all workers.

In addition to safety classes, some colleges and universities also offer complete training programs over several semesters. These more thorough training programs take several months to complete.

You can find these training programs at the following list of schools:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta)
  • Arizona State University (Tempe)
  • Radford University (VA)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg)
  • Manatee Technical College (Bradenton, FL)

What Will I Learn?

Construction excavation safety courses are required by OSHA to include how to identify and evaluate potential dig sites, follow safety rules and procedures in emergency situations, employ rescue methods, recognize common work hazards and prevent those hazards. You will also be given information describing terms frequently used in excavation work. Some of the subjects covered are:

  • Atmospheric changes
  • Air monitoring
  • Failing loads
  • Sloping
  • Trenching

If you are looking for a job excavating for construction sites, you will probably be able to find suitable training and safety courses in your local area. Just make sure the course follows OSHA's standards, which are listed on its website. You can also take these courses online, so don't worry if none are convenient to where you live.

What Other Courses Can I Study?

More comprehensive programs offer training in excavation work and other related subjects, such as the operation of various types of heavy equipment. Some of these programs are also designed to comply with OSHA's excavation safety requirements. You can find programs at select colleges and universities; these programs include coursework in:

  • Equipment operation
  • Mathematics
  • Safety
  • Soil mechanics
  • Project planning

What Skills Do I Need for This Kind of Work?

You need an understanding of how to build and repair structures, so you need some math and engineering skills. You also need to be aware of all the equipment involved in your type of excavation, how to use it and what sometimes goes wrong with it. Mechanical knowledge and experience is a must, as well as attention to detail. You need to be able to analyze problems with equipment, technology or land on-the-job and figure out how to reach a solution.

Excavation projects are always group ventures, so in order to succeed in this field, you will need to have decent social skills and a strong ability to communicate with your co-workers. You also need strong eyesight (or proper eyewear), depth perception and dexterity. You need physical strength, endurance and fast response time.

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