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Schools for Heavy Equipment Operator Training

If you are interested in a career that involves using heavy machinery such as forklifts, cranes, excavators, bulldozers and large tractors, you will need to get a special license and complete a comprehensive training program. Heavy equipment operator training programs, such as a forklift training program, provide students with hands-on and classroom training so that they can work on construction sites, move freight and perform other duties as needed using giant machines. Students gain a strong knowledge of traffic laws, operation and maintenance procedures of different types of heavy equipment, and also learn how to perform basic safety procedures.

What to Expect with Heavy Equipment Training

Training programs provide students with advanced knowledge of operation and safety protocol of different types of equipment used at construction sites and in the transportation industry. Many states require those who are operating heavy equipment to obtain a special license, or to complete an Associate's Degree in the field.

The Associated Training Services Corp. (ATS) is one of the most nationally recognized organizations by employers in the construction, excavation and earthmoving industries, and offers a comprehensive heavy equipment operator training program for students of all skill levels. Students learn how to operate heavy machinery including road graders, bulldozers, rock trucks, backhoes, wheel loaders and skids steers, and also learn about the basics of operation and safety with in-depth classroom instruction.

ATS also offers two types of national certification which can help operators throughout their careers. ATS offers certification through the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Obtaining these types of certifications ensures that the student is getting industry-recognized training and is up-to-date on the latest industry news, protocols, procedures and subject matter.

Attending school provides students with the skills and knowledge that some of today's leading construction and excavation companies and employers are looking for. Students can find jobs shortly after graduation and can continue their education by pursuing different types of certification or taking advanced courses.

Types of Courses Available at Heavy Equipment Operator School

Students may be able to choose from several different levels of training programs and courses. Some of the most common types of courses available include:

  • Introduction to Hand Tools
  • Construction Math
  • Introduction to Blueprints
  • Basic Rigging
  • Equipment Preventive Maintenance
  • Identification of Heavy Equipment
  • Dump Truck Training
  • Operating a Crane
  • Machine Power Flow
  • Computer Aids/Operator Aids
  • Telescopic Boom Assembly and Disassembly
  • Bulldozer and Water Truck Operations

Advanced Heavy Equipment Operator Training Programs

Students who complete a comprehensive or advanced heavy equipment operator training program may also take classes and courses that cover the following areas of study:

  • Laser leveling
  • Soil identification and types
  • Safety procedures and protocol
  • Site layouts
  • Heavy equipment maintenance
  • Grade reading programs

Some programs include Commercial Driver License (CDL) Training. These training programs provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to haul heavy equipment on a trailer or flatbed, and also gives them driving privileges to drive dump trucks. CDL truck driving programs are usually an extension of the standard heavy equipment operator training program and can be a valuable asset for any individual interested in a long-term career in this field.

After successfully completing a training program, the qualified heavy equipment operator has the ability to operate and drive different types of equipment, perform safety checks and maintenance duties, and can also demonstrate knowledge of the construction process. Most are trained in state traffic laws and those with a CDL license may be required to complete additional or advanced training so that they can drive different types of trucks, freight and cargo using the right protocol.

Career Outlook after Heavy Equipment Operator Training

Students who successfully complete training and obtain their necessary certifications and licenses can explore a number of career options in their field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that average job growth is projected for those working in this field, and demand will stay steady as companies need to replace older workers with a younger crew. Heavy equipment operators are often hired to work in the areas of:

  • Nonresidential building construction
  • Highway, street and bridge construction
  • Utility system construction
  • Specialty trade contracting
  • Local government entities

As of May 2008, the median hourly wages of wage of construction equipment operators was $18.88.

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