Learn to Operate a Bulldozer: Training Options and Requirements
Heavy equipment operators use bulldozers to level construction sites and grade highway construction sites. Training is accomplished in several ways; read below to find out more.
How Do I Learn to Operate a Bulldozer?
Heavy equipment training can be acquired through trade schools, vocational schools, apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training programs. The Associated General Contractors of America and the International Union of Operating Engineers offer apprenticeship programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The apprenticeship programs take approximately three years to complete, including classroom training. The BLS reports that apprenticeship programs are advantageous because apprentices are exposed to a larger variety of equipment and can practice their skills.
What Does Formal Education Cover?
Certificate programs at technical schools and community colleges prepare students to operate and maintain heavy equipment in a variety of occupations. Training is often provided on a large tract of land using industry-standard heavy equipment. Students learn how to operate, maintain and repair this equipment. They also practice troubleshooting and repairing drive trains, external engine components, hydraulic systems and running gear while focusing on observing and complying with safety issues.
Training facilities may use electronic simulators that allow a student to learn controls and various operations in a controlled learning environment. Some schools also offer Red Cross, CPR and first-aid training that leads to certification in those areas.
Is Certification or Licensure Required?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a bulldozer operator may need a commercial driver's license to haul their equipment to a construction site. States may also individually require and offer licensure, which designates professionals as eligible for employment. Certification, although not required, shows a potential employer that the certificate-holder has proven skills in a position being pursued, and some employers may consider it mandatory. The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools and the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators are just two examples of organizations that offer voluntary certification.
What is the Job Outlook?
Retiring operators and those leaving for senior positions may provide job opportunities for incoming bulldozer operators. The BLS expects growth to be 7-13% during the decade 2008-2012 (www.bls.gov). It also reports that federal spending on infrastructures such as bridges, roads and railroads will increase opportunities for bulldozer operators, because there are not enough experienced operators to fill open positions. Bulldozer operators that are skilled in other heavy construction equipment such as graders, trench evacuators and other heavy equipment may find more opportunities. Payscale.com reports that bulldozer operators earn $12.51-$18.35 per hour as of 2010, and they made $27,291-$53,569 annually with overtime and commissions.
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