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How Do I Become a Heavy Equipment Operator?

Qualified heavy equipment operators are important skilled workers at construction sites and in other settings where heavy equipment is required. It takes comprehensive training to properly operate these machines. If you are considering becoming a heavy equipment operator, this guide will take you step by step from where you are currently to a new in-demand career in the cab of a backhoe, dozer or other heavy equipment.


For most people, the first step in figuring out whether or not you really want to do something is to research it. The internet is overflowing with helpful information that can help you make a well-informed decision about almost anything. Choosing a new career is no exception. Maybe take a look at what kinds of heavy machines is out there. Learn what a heavy equipment operator’s job is like. There are countless blogs on the subject written by industry professionals. Government sites, such as that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, offer helpful information, such as career outlook, job duties and compensation statistics. Thorough research will give you a better idea of the profession and whether you could see yourself making a career of it.

Heavy Equipment Training - HEC

Find a School

Once you decide that a career as a heavy equipment operator is right for you, the next step is to find a trade school offering a heavy equipment program. Be sure to take a look at the school’s curriculum, length of program and other factors that may be of particular importance to you; everyone has different needs when it comes to continuing education. Once you narrow it down to a couple of choices (geographical location permitting), make a visit to the school. Informational visits and tours will give you a better idea of whether the school is right for you than browsing the web ever could.  

Study Hard

Heavy equipment operation training programs tend to be shorter than other trade school programs. The programs offered at Heavy Equipment Colleges of America (HEC), for example, take three weeks to complete. With that being said, you will want to make the most of the time you are in school. The information you learn and the connections you make will provide a foundation on which to build your career. There will be lots more learning on the job, but a trade school program will give you a leg up going into your first job.

Take Advantage of Your School’s Resources

The benefits of enrolling in a heavy equipment program at an accredited school go beyond just the coursework. Many schools, like HEC, offer an array of career services to help students and alumni be successful in the workforce. Such resources include help with resumes, mock interviews and assistance navigating those pesky online job boards. A lot of schools also have extensive networks in the heavy machine operation industry thanks to their alumni and connections with employers who have hired their alumni in the past. Take advantage of when recruiters come to your school’s campus. Even if you don’t get a job with them right out of school, you’ll have their contact information and acquaintanceship in the holster for potential employment later on down the line. 

Heavy Equipment College

Pass Your Certification Exam

Depending on the roles you are looking for and the employer for whom you want to work, you may be required to pass a certification exam. This mostly pertains to crane operators, who typically have to pass certification exams based on what kind of crane they operate. Such exams are administered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). OSHA now requires employers to conduct evaluations of their crane operators. By passing the applicable CCO exam after graduation, you’ll be ahead of the curve in your new position. Be sure to ask your instructors about certifications that might be worth attaining, as they can make you a more marketable candidate for jobs.   

Look for Jobs

With the knowledge and skills to operate heavy equipment with the best of them, you will be ready to enter the field. Finding a job can be a challenging task, especially when you are fresh out of school. Effectively networking and learning how to search for a job while you are still a student will help make the process a little less daunting. Joining local and national professional organizations is also a good way to meet your industry peers and learn about job opportunities.

You now know how to get from where you are now to a meaningful career as a heavy equipment operator. Turn the key to your new career by enrolling at one of Heavy Equipment Colleges of America’s campuses.

At Heavy Equipment Colleges of America, you will learn the essential skills to succeed as a heavy equipment operator. HEC has seven campuses across the country, each full of instructors who pride themselves on providing practical heavy equipment education tailored to its students’ individual needs. HEC’s programs offer the perfect mix of textbook learning and hands-on experience to adequately prepare you for a job in the industry.

HEC has over a decade of experience training heavy equipment operators. All seven campuses are approved testing sites for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

Heavy Equipment Colleges of America offers comprehensive heavy equipment operating courses that can be completed in as soon as three weeks. This may provide you with the knowledge and competence you need to start your new career.

Don’t wait; hop into the cab of your new career. Learn more about HEC’s programs or schedule a tour of the campus nearest you by logging on to


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CALIFORNIA LOCATION ONLY: Heavy Equipment College of America is a private institution approved to operate by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Approval to operate means the institution is compliant with the minimum standards contained in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Division 7.5 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. ( Access all Catalogs, Student Performance Fact Sheets and Brochures here.

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Heavy Equipment Colleges of America cannot guarantee employment or career advancement or any particular earnings or salary.

OKLAHOMA LOCATION ONLY: Heavy Equipment Colleges of America has a Certificate of Approval from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The school’s programs are approved by TWC. Students must address their concerns about this school of any of its educational programs by following the grievance process outlined in the school’s catalog. Students dissatisfied with the school’s response to their complaint or who are not able to file a complaint with the school, can file a formal complaint with TWC, as well as with other relevant agencies or accreditors, if applicable. Information on filing a complaint with TWC can be found on TWC’s website at

Heavy Equipment Colleges of America endorses the national certification program offered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and provides training to prepare candidates for CCO examinations.

*SkillBridge prepares service members for civilian employment through first-class apprenticeships, on-the-job training, job shadowing, internships and employment skills training. Service members are eligible to participate in a SkillBridge up to 180 days prior to separation. To be considered for an open seat in a SkillBridge you must contact the POC at the installation where you want to attend a SkillBridge and submit your commander authorized/signed participation memo in advance of the start date.

WIOA/TAA funded training may be provided only to individuals who qualify for the program and not only if funds are available.

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