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How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

Heavy equipment operators are in high-demand and operate in different forms of landscapes. The duties of a heavy equipment operator vary widely. You may drive and operate heavy equipment machinery to and from construction sites. Or, an operator can maneuver construction cranes, bulldozers, loaders, and other large construction machinery to build bridges, roads, and buildings. An operator may also be tasked to maintain and repair machinery.

The job of an equipment operator varies day-to-day, and for their hard work, they are reimbursed generously. The median salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for a heavy equipment operator is approximately $46,990.

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can go from applicant to a heavy equipment operator.

Here are a few steps on how to become a heavy equipment operator:

1) Earn your high school diploma

Typically, to become a heavy equipment operator you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Also, having additional education in classes such as mathematics, and auto technology. This knowledge under your belt can benefit you in your journey to become a heavy equipment operator. Even more, higher education like college or vocational education can help prepare you for the field and give you the needed hands-on experience to properly work as a heavy equipment operator. After all, there is no such thing as too much education, and any sort of additional training can work to your advantage.

2) Gain your certifications

Several pieces of heavy equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers, or loaders, require certifications to handle. In addition to a heavy equipment certification, most construction jobs require a commercial driver’s license. In most cases, an employer won’t even consider your application without the necessary current certifications.

Keep in mind that certification laws may vary state by state. Some states require specific certifications and/or certification from a nationally-recognized company. For example, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is an organization that handles administering certifications for various different kinds of crane-related labor, including tower and mobile cranes.

3) Make sure you are healthy

If you’ve put in the work to receive a high school education or equivalent, and the necessary certifications, then this requirement may come as a surprise. Despite this, you may be required to meet predetermined health standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) depending on the heavy equipment that you are operating. After all, these standards are in place to ensure that the people operating heaving equipment are physically capable of using the equipment appropriately without strain or assistance. In addition, you must pass an initial drug test; as well as, intermittent random drug testing. In reality, many applicants may find that they already meet the industry health standards.

Being a heavy equipment operator is no easy task, but with the right education, skills, and training, the position is completely attainable. These are only a few tips on how to become a heavy equipment operator. However, they will set you on your way to establishing yourself in the industry. Take these tips into consideration, and ensure you write a winning resume that will capture the eye of a hiring manager.

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