Heavy Equipment Operator Apprenticeship Program Options

Aspiring heavy equipment operators often learn their trade through an apprenticeship. These apprenticeships are available through many avenues, including postsecondary schools and professional associations. Continue reading to learn more about heavy equipment operator apprenticeship programs.

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What Types of Apprenticeship Programs Can Heavy Equipment Operators Complete?

Program Overviews

Apprenticeship programs for heavy equipment operators are available through technical and community colleges, industry associations and trade unions. These apprenticeship programs generally last three to four years and include both in-class and paid, on-the-job learning.

Technical and Community Colleges

These programs may be sponsored by local chapters of organizations such as the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), in conjunction with state labor departments. Students completing these programs need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Since some heavy equipment operators operate equipment on roadways, a commercial driver's license may be required. Additionally, students must be able to meet the physical demands of the profession before applying to the apprenticeship programs.

In these programs, students learn about safety and regulations, equipment operations, welding and soil inspection. They can prepare for certification in areas such as pipeline operations, first aid, CPR and waste operations. Program graduates can pursue career opportunities involving equipment operation, inspections, troubleshooting and equipment maintenance. At the end of their studies, students are awarded a certificate of completion and may earn journeyman status.

Industry Associations and Trade Unions

Industry associations, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), and trade unions, such as the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) also offer heavy equipment apprenticeship programs. These programs are available nationwide. They may be registered with state or federal apprenticeship agencies, too. Students will need to follow steps similar to that of the job search process when seeking entrance. This includes filling out an application and being interviewed. Students learn the same topics in apprenticeship programs offered through industry associations and trade unions as they do in apprenticeship programs offered by technical and community colleges.

Salary Information

Wages earned by heavy equipment operator apprentices vary by locality. According to the IUOE, starting pay is between 45%-60% of journeymen's wages. Towards the end of the apprenticeship period, heavy equipment operator apprentices can earn 80%-90% of what journeymen earn. According to Salary.com, the median salary of heavy equipment operators in 2014 was $61,339.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Montana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Montana include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Ground Transportation
        • Heavy Equipment Operation
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New Castle School of Trades include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Ground Transportation
        • Heavy Equipment Operation
        • Truck, Bus and Commercial Driver
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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
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    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
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    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
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    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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      • Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
      • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
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