Schools with Heavy Equipment Operator Training Programs

Heavy equipment operators work with large machines like bulldozers, backhoes and cranes. You can complete a 1-year or 2-year training program in heavy equipment operation to enter this career field. Explore what you'd learn in a training program, and get info on choosing a school for your studies. Find out more about what heavy equipment operators do. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As an aspiring heavy machinery operator, you may not need to complete post-secondary education. On-the-job training and apprenticeship programs could offer you the necessary preparation for work in this field. However, certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in heavy equipment operation could give you an advantage when seeking employment or pursuing advancement in the field. Before becoming a heavy equipment operator, you must commonly obtain a commercial driver's license, which you can do through a formal education program.

Degrees Diploma and associate degree programs in heavy equipment operation; some programs allow transfer to bachelor's degree
Courses Computer fundamentals, hydraulics, mechanical theory, heavy equipment math, engine overhaul, preventative maintenance, blueprints, steering systems, employment strategies, operations theory, brakes, construction theory
Median Salary (2017)* $47,040 per year (for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Choose a School?

To receive the proper hands-on training with heavy machinery, you may find schools with onsite training facilities to be beneficial. Schools with a wide variety of heavy equipment, including tractors, cranes and forklifts could be useful for gaining the widest professional experience. Additionally, internship opportunities could allow you to gain real-world experience in operating heavy equipment.

Because heavy equipment operation is largely a hands-on training experience, distance education opportunities are rare. Some programs could offer online options through online courses, lectures or examinations in subjects like safety, management or electronics. You might prefer programs that can be completed partially over the Internet if you have professional or personal scheduling obligations that make traditional education difficult. You can find heavy equipment operator training programs at these schools:

  • Central Lakes College
  • Central Arizona College
  • Dakota County Technical College
  • Lone Star College
  • Flathead Valley Community College

What Will I Study?

Certificate programs commonly focus on the fundamentals of the heavy equipment field, like safety precautions and the use of equipment like backhoes, tractors, excavators and forklifts. Diploma programs allow you to study basic concepts of the field while including advanced studies. The following topics will be addressed in these types of programs:

  • Maintenance techniques
  • Construction surveying
  • Advanced maintenance procedures
  • Welding
  • Construction theory

What About Courses in a Degree Program?

Associate degree programs may include general education classes that you can transfer to bachelor's degree programs. You might study management or finance courses that could allow you to advance in the industry. These topics could also be covered:

  • Tools and hardware
  • Basic safety
  • Loader theory
  • Electrical systems
  • Diesel engine fundamentals
  • Welding
  • Site engineering
  • Hydraulics
  • Bulldozer and track loader operation
  • Flame cutting

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a heavy equipment operator, you would operate a number of large construction machines to complete a wide variety of tasks. Some equipment may be used to move or push soil, while others may be used to transport soil or construction equipment. Some heavy equipment operators dispense concrete or asphalt for roads while other machines are used to level and shape them. By completing a heavy equipment operation training program you'll also be qualified to operate a forklift.

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