What You Should Know About Equipment Operators

  • Editorial Team
  • Crawler Dozer
  • 7 October 2023

Heavy equipment operators play a very important role in a lot of industries, they make use of a range of heavy machinery for tasks such as excavation, construction, and transportation. Today we will overview the responsibilities, certification requirements, and training options for individuals pursuing a career as heavy equipment operators.

Roles and Responsibilities

Heavy equipment operators work with a diverse fleet of machinery, including backhoes, cranes, loaders, graders, used bulldozers for sale, pavers, and more. Their responsibilities span multiple sectors, but most notably manufacturing and construction. Common tasks for them include hoisting cargo containers, leveling ground for pavements, digging ditches, loading materials onto trucks, and maintaining the equipment they operate.

Certification for Crane Operators

A pivotal aspect of heavy equipment operation is crane operation. To become a certified crane operator, the candidates must adhere to regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A late 2010 OSHA regulation mandates approved training or certification programs for crane operators. Many states also require crane operators to obtain licenses or certificates of proficiency. National organizations like the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offer nationally recognized certification programs. Eligibility often involves passing written and practical skills exams, with some states mandating apprenticeship programs and additional state-specific tests.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirement

For those operating equipment such as pavers, bulldozers, or heavy trucks on public roads, a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) may be necessary, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation outlines specific CDL requirements, especially for vehicles that are carrying hazardous materials or exceeding 26,001 pounds in weight. Obtaining a CDL typically involves passing both written and driving tests. Certain employers may also demand additional endorsements for operating double trailers or tank trucks.

Training Options

Becoming a proficient heavy equipment operator often involves on-the-job learning. While a high school diploma or GED may suffice for some positions, formal training can really improve your chances of success. Prospective operators can opt for formal apprenticeship programs lasting three to four years. These programs are available through community colleges, technical institutes, and labor organizations like the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). The training includes classroom instruction covering workplace safety and construction equipment maintenance, complemented by hands on experience. Depending on the program, trainees might receive compensation for their work, making it an attractive route for those seeking both education and income.