Whether you’ve been working in a trade or construction for a while, or you’re trying to get into the industry, one of the best ways to make yourself more valuable is an understanding of how to use heavy equipment. While the basic idea behind driving an earth-mover might be vaguely similar to driving a car, you can’t just hop into a large piece of machinery and safely maneuver it around a worksite – let alone actually use it to get the job done. Finding the right heavy equipment training school guide or course is a great way to make sure you can safely use a piece of heavy machinery and improve your value in the construction industry.
You have quite a few options available to you for this kind of training, depending on exactly what you’re looking for and what you want to get out of it. If you’re in school for general studies and want to be able to use heavy equipment, then consider a course at a university or community college. On the other hand, if you just want certification quickly so you can put your knowledge to use right away, then a private certification course might be your best bet. Some trade unions offer training with heavy equipment for members, so keep that in mind if you already work in construction and belong to a union.
Finally, some of the manufacturers of heavy equipment offer training programs to certify you on their machinery in particular. Companies like Cat, for example, have multiple tiers or training you can undertake to prove your skill level and demonstrate your abilities.
General Education Programs
Some of the most accessible heavy equipment training schools include universities and colleges for general education. If you are in school for civil engineering, architecture, or any other program and you want to get training with heavy machinery to fill out your skill-set, then look into classes your school might offer. These courses are often the most in-depth option available since they are part of a larger education and may take one or two semesters to complete.
Southern Maine Community College, for example, offers a Heavy Equipment Operations Certificate course that lasts two semesters and takes 32 credit hours. Completing this course gives you the knowledge you need to work heavy machinery under OSHA and MSHA guidelines safely. Other colleges offer similar programs and classes, so keep them in mind if you’re already in school.
Private Schools and Certification
One of the simplest, and fastest, options for a heavy equipment training school is a private program focused solely on providing you with certification on large machinery, rather than a larger, general education. These courses are usually shorter than spending a full semester or more in college on training with heavy equipment and are more focused. You typically get in-class training that goes over the basics and general instruction, followed by field demonstrations and training in the seat of a machine.
Places like the Heavy Construction Academy in New Hampshire offer a six-week course that certifies you to operate heavy machinery. One of the advantages of this type of course is that it will typically give you training and certification on numerous types of equipment. The HCA Heavy Equipment Training program, for example, certifies you to use front-end loaders, backhoes, bulldozers, and more.
Another great option for a heavy equipment training school or certification course is a trade union that you might already be a member of. One of the greatest benefits of unions in the trades and construction industry is their support for and focus on safety at the job site. As such, unions will spend a great deal of money to provide heavy equipment operator training and review courses for members. If you’re not already a member of a union, then you likely will need to be to work in just about any major trade.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, for example, offers thorough heavy equipment operator training to ensure their members have proper instruction and can use large machinery safely. Refresher courses are often available for people with some experience, as well as more in-depth training for those new to the field. Local branches of the IUOE throughout the US, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, offer heavy equipment operator training for members.
If there’s a particular piece of machinery that you know you’ll be using or need to get certification for, then consider a heavy equipment training school or program offered by the manufacturer of that machine. This is the most focused and targeted form of training you’ll typically find for such equipment, but it ensures you really know their machines inside and out. Different manufacturers can handle this in different ways, but it often involves online courses, simulator training, and instructor-led training in the field.
Cat, for example, offers heavy equipment operator training through different methods at three different tiers. Level I of their instructor-led training is for people with fewer than three years of experience operating their machinery. Level II of their training is for professional operators of Cat machinery with more than three years of experience with their equipment. Finally, at Level III, Cat offers professional operator certification on their heavy equipment to demonstrate that you have the highest degree of expertise and competency with Cat machinery.
No matter what type of heavy equipment training school you choose, make sure they are properly certified and give you a real education that translates to working on a job site. Understanding how to use large machinery safely is vital to getting your job done and making sure you and everyone else at a site stay safe. Trying to use heavy equipment without proper training can cause damage to the machine, destroy materials at a worksite, and even be fatal for yourself or other workers.