Training Heavy Equipment Operators

One of today’s most demanding industries is the ever-growing construction industries. And one of the most in-demand (and high-paying) jobs around the world is being a heavy equipments operator.

Traditionally, heavy equipment operators in constructions usually learn their skills on the job. They learn the ropes through actual experience and tutorials from older mentors and colleagues.

Today, however, more and more colleges as well as specialized training centers have established formal apprenticeship programs for all those interested in joining the construction work force by way of being machine operators.

For job-hunters, the construction industry is one area that has not received much attention. Despite being considered as one of the country’s most flourishing industries, the construction industry has a shortage of competent and professional heavy equipment operators.

The area is wide enough. One can work in the government and in the many private constructions firms all over the country (and in the world). Aside from these, there are so many fields of work to choose from like mining, construction, excavation, forestry or in various public works of the government on all levels (county, state or national).

It can even be a stepping-stone into the industry if one intends to put up his or her own construction firm in the future.

Training and education

Nowadays, construction companies generally prefer hiring workers with enough education (at least a high school graduate). However, some companies accept non-graduates to train in how to operate some types of equipments.

Having finished a high school course in auto mechanics is a notch advantageous. They are trained how to perform maintenance as well as how to operate them.

Formal training, of course, provides more comprehensive skills. Today, there is training offered in formal operating engineer apprenticeship programs. This is initiated by the union-management committees of the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Associated General Contractors of America.

These apprenticeship programs consist of at least 3 years (or 6,000 hours) of on-the-job training. This includes 144 hours of related classroom instructions given every year.

In these programs, apprentices are taught how to operate a wider variety of machines, which automatically give them better job options.

Some private vocational schools also offer instructions in the operations of heavy equipments. However, it might be wise to also check on their reputation and caliber to produce competent graduates.

There is a difference in learning large amounts of classroom information and becoming a skilled operator performing these tasks using actual machines. The best training would include competent classroom lectures as well as actual on-site equipment handling.

This is important because of the new developments in technology today. Some advanced heavy equipment machines have computerized controls and using new electronics and hydraulics systems. These improvements would require more skills to understand and to operate.

Benefits and training advantages

For the construction company, it is competence they need from their workers. For the workers themselves, training is not just for competence but for being able to operate these machines safely for everyone, himself included. A small and simple forklift can become a deadly machine if handled improperly.

For one, heavy equipments are not like a regular automobile. These are huge machines that do serious work. The proper procedures and techniques of running these machines have to be learned and mastered again and again to ensure safety.

Aside from getting a commercial driver’s license, training graduates of heavy equipment operators are issued certifications to qualify them to apply for work in their chosen fields. These certifications last from 3 to 5 years and must be renewed.