Heavy equipment training is a specialized field of education that deals with training people in the use of heavy equipment like bulldozers, backhoes, forklifts and excavators. In fact, people wrongly assume that a heavy equipment operator does not need much training to operate heavy equipment, this is not true. The truth is, each heavy equipment operator has to go through a series of specialized courses to get certified to operate heavy equipment. As a matter of fact, even equipment that people consider 'safe' to operate like fork lifts, require specialized training and certification.
Just like a driving test, a heavy equipment operator has to clear both written and practical tests before he is certified to operate heavy equipment. A person can choose from a variety of training institutes before he applies for certification with major organizations like NCCER (National Centre for Construction Education & Research). Only after being certified by organizations like NCCER can an individual begin to operate heavy equipment. Different companies, recognise certifications from different organizations and centres. However one of the major organizations for heavy equipment certification is NCCER.
Usually companies have a list of training institutes they recognize as certified centres for heavy equipment operator training; as a matter of fact there are only a handful of institutes like Associated Training Services Inc. that are certified as an eligible training provider under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Contrary to popular belief there is no 'one size fits all' course available for heavy equipment training, there are three major training courses available for heavy equipment training. Heavy Equipment Operation Level I This is the primary level of heavy equipment operator training; Level I is a foundation course for further courses. An operator learns basic safety requirements, the rules and regulations that need to be followed under US law.
Once the level I course is complete a person is eligible to operate dump trucks, tractors, loaders, and backhoes. Heavy Equipment Operation Level II Only people that have cleared the level I course, or have cleared an equivalent course are eligible for level II training. Level II training includes, a refresher of all Level I courses, earth moving training, and civil blue print reading. Basically designed for more commercial construction oriented equipment, an operator clearing Level II training is eligible to operate bulldozers, rollers, forklifts and scrapers. Separate courses that allow operators to be certified in fork lift operation are also available; currently these courses are not as widely accepted.
Heavy Equipment Operation Level III Once an operator has cleared levels I and II courses, he can then apply for an advanced certification by clearing level III. The level III course is the most comprehensive in terms of real world training and involves training an operator in real world concepts like advanced safety procedures, industrial and leadership training, real world project planning and project completion skills. People that finish level III training are certified to operate complex heavy equipment like excavators. Heavy equipment operators that have cleared level III training are highly sought after not just for their operating skills, but also for their leadership and management skills. NCCER Unlike other commercial establishments, The National Centre for Construction Education & Research is a non-profit organization that was founded by the joint collaboration of 11 of the world's largest construction companies.
NCCER was founded to provide quality education, and to address the severe lack heavy equipment operators in the early and late 90s. NCCER has also managed to unify the curriculum for heavy equipment operators and has made it simpler for people to be certified irrespective of their geographic location. Almost all major construction companies recognize courses that are certified by NCCER. If you are currently looking for a training institute, then make sure that training institute is accredited to NCCER and offers courses certified by NCCER.
In fact, most construction companies require heavy equipment operators to be certified from NCCER.
Christopher Hartwell is the author of this article on Heavy Equipment Operator School. Find more information about Heavy Equipment Operator School here.