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Heavy Equipment Schools and Training Programs

Learn about training programs in heavy equipment operation and heavy equipment repair that can prepare you for a career in either field. Find out the skills acquired in this training as well as typical job duties for these workers.

What You Need to Know

Although postsecondary education is usually not required to work in this field, completing a formal training program can make you a more desirable job candidate and could accelerate your career as a heavy equipment operator or technician. A number of schools offer programs that can last from a few months to up to 2 years, depending on the level of education you seek.

Program Options Heavy Equipment Technician and Heavy Equipment Operations and Maintenance Diploma, Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate, Associate of Applied Science in Diesel/Heavy Duty Equipment
Courses Welding theory, hydraulics, powertrain and brake systems, heavy equipment electrical systems, construction safety
Training 3-4 year apprenticeship training programs for construction equipment operators

What Heavy Equipment Training Programs Are Available?

Certificate, diploma and associate degree programs are available to you as an aspiring heavy equipment operator. Certificate programs are typically focused on the basics of the field, while diploma and associate degree programs could be beneficial to you if you have interests in construction theory or management. A bachelor's degree in construction management is mainly for those seeking advanced positions in the field. However, education beyond a high school diploma is not mandatory for those seeking to operate or repair heavy equipment.

How Else Can I Learn Heavy Equipment Operations?

Many employers provide on-the-job training for new hires as well as apprenticeship programs. Some apprenticeship programs can be sponsored by construction unions or contractor associations. Participants must meet certain age and physical ability qualifications to enter into an apprenticeship program.

What Courses Will I Take?

Heavy equipment operator programs commonly include courses in:

  • Work safety
  • Hydraulics
  • Agricultural equipment
  • Equipment systems and maintenance
  • Machine operations, such as backhoes, bulldozers and dump trucks

You will also learn about electronics, fuel systems, engine systems, brakes and transmissions. Diploma and associate degree programs may allow you to expand on operation techniques with coursework in construction management, site operation and welding.

How Can I Choose a School?

As an aspiring heavy equipment operator, you should choose a program that offers a repair shop and access to a wide variety of large machinery. You may also want to choose a school that prepares you to earn a commercial drivers license, as this is typically required to operate heavy equipment vehicles. If you wish to gain training to operate a particular brand of equipment, you should look for schools that have partnerships with notable heavy equipment manufacturers.

Schools that provide heavy equipment programs include:

  • South Seattle College
  • Butte College
  • Central Lakes College
  • Wake Technical Community College
  • West Hills College Coalinga
  • Flathead Valley Community College
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks Community & Technical College

What Will My Job Duties Be?

You will be expected to operate different types of heavy construction equipment, such as forklifts, dump trucks and backhoes. Expertise with these pieces of equipment will allow you to complete a number of tasks, such as moving soil, transporting construction equipment and paving roads. You may also have to maintain and repair these vehicles. This could involve installing, repairing or replacing parts pertaining to a vehicle's engine, hydraulics, brakes or fluid systems.