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How do I get a Heavy Equipment Operator Certification?

Diane Goettel
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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In order to get heavy equipment operator certification, you must go to an accredited institution that offers training in the type, or the general family, of equipment with which you hope to work. Just as there are many different kinds of heavy equipment, there are also many different kinds of operator certification, so knowing what you want to work with is important. Alternatively, some students complete heavy equipment operator certification in order to increase the number of kinds of equipment that they are certified to operate. For example, a person who is certified to operate cranes might decide to go back to school in order to become certified to use backhoes, excavators, bulldozers, and other kinds of heavy equipment.

Some schools that offer heavy equipment operator certification also offer certification in the operation of large scale vehicles. People who are interested in becoming truck drivers for either long haul or short haul routes can go to a school that offers this training and take courses that will allow them to get Class-A commercial driver licenses, which are also sometimes simply called CDLs. This type of certification allows people to both operate cranes and drive trucks. In some cases, people with Class-A CDLs drive mobile cranes or haul equipment to work sites.

If you're planning to get operator certification, you should consider a number of factors when choosing between schools. First, it is crucial to make sure that the school is fully accredited and that the certification from the school will be accepted by employers in the industry. People who are already working in construction, demolition, transportation, and other fields that sometimes involve the use of heavy equipment might want to consult with their employers to find out what schools they recommend.

The second step is to find a school that is within a reasonable commuting distance of your home. Although there are often a number of programs to be found regionally, there are some areas where heavy equipment operator certification training is not as easily available. For people living in these areas, it might be necessary to temporarily relocate in order to complete a certification program.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By anon281892 — On Jul 26, 2012

I took a heavy equipment operator certification. The course cost me $10,000, but employers in my area think the course is useless. I did learn good information, but taking the course has not helped me get a job as an HEO. The best way to get into HEO is as a labourer or packer operator, rather than taking an expensive course.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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