Heavy Construction and Equipment Operator Training Programs

Once you enroll in a heavy construction equipment training program or complete an apprenticeship, you can learn how to operate bulldozers, back hoes, excavators or similar equipment. Keep reading to learn more about training, skills needed and career outlook. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Operate Heavy Construction Equipment?

Many heavy construction equipment operators receive their training through an apprenticeship or on the job. However, you can also enroll in a training program through a college to earn your certificate or Associate of Applied Science degree. Whether you decide to complete your training on the job or through a college, you'll need to earn a high school diploma or GED first. Some programs may expect you to purchase your own safety glasses and tools, including torque wrenches, sockets or pliers.

Required Training Apprenticeship or on the job training, though certificates and Associate of Applied Science degrees in heavy equipment operation are available
Topics Covered Preparing a graded surface, trench stabilization, safety, handling hazardous materials
Career Options Pile-driver operator, paving and surfacing equipment operator, to name a few
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 12% growth for all construction equipment operators*

Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn About?

In a training program, you'll learn how to use and maintain excavators, graders, bulldozers, forklift trucks or other heavy construction equipment. You'll take classroom-based courses on work safety requirements and project management. You might learn how to handle hazardous materials and prevent accidents on the job site. You'll also learn how to estimate, plan and complete a construction project with both safety and financial considerations in mind.

Hands-on instruction might cover the basics of preparing a graded surface using different methods or machinery. If you enroll in a program that covers pipe laying, you can expect to learn how a site is prepared, pipes are cut, rigging is used and trenches are created. Pipe laying instruction also includes lessons on safety practices, trench stabilization and testing of assembled pipe work. Some programs may teach you how to drill a well using heavy construction equipment.

What Can I Do With These Skills?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you could begin your construction career as an equipment operator and advance to a supervisory position (www.bls.gov). You can also find work teaching students how to use construction equipment. With enough experience, you might start your own contracting business.

Earnings of heavy construction equipment operators vary by position. For example, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for pile drivers was $58,680 in 2018, whereas the median annual salary for surfacing, paving and tamping operators was $39,780 during the same year. The BLS also reported that other heavy construction equipment operators received a median annual wage of $47,810 in 2018.

The BLS expected the number of jobs in this field to rise by 12% between 2016 and 2026. Job growth was reportedly related to an increase in federally funded projects, population growth and infrastructure improvements.

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