In Pennsylvania, many schools offer training to become a Heavy Equipment Operator. Technical schools and colleges in each community can provide the programs needed to become a licensed operator. Some schools have programs that a student may complete in a few months while others may take a few years to complete. It all depends on the level of training. Some schools provide an apprenticeship also. You will have to decide what type of training and how intense you are looking for.

A Few Facts When Looking at Heavy Equipment Operator as a Career

Most schools in Pennsylvania offer hands-on training, instruction in safety and also first aid. What you need to know is there are different ways to obtain a CDL or commercial driver’s license. A CDL is a must for operating certain types of equipment. Below are a few of the types of equipment where a CDL is needed:

  • Crane Operators
  • Truck Drivers moving equipment from site to site

The above equipment must have a CDL operator to move it. Looking for a career in heavy equipment using any of the above will require certified school with instruction in safety.

What Types of Equipment Do Not Require a CDL Licensed Operator?

In Pennsylvania, there are particular types of equipment an operator can move and operate without a CDL license. A few of these are:

  • Backhoes
  • Bulldozers,
  • Tractors
  • Excavators

What Is The Outlook For Heavy Equipment Operators?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, or, the BLS is a unit of the government that makes the requirements for operating heavy equipment. The BLS rules demand any crane operator must have a CDL license. A person who repairs the heavy equipment does not have to have a license but may apply for a voluntary certification from a manufacturer. Some techs choose to since they sometimes have to drive the equipment to make sure of its safety, and it is running in top condition. Some employers demand a mechanic has the CDL upon employment. Having a CDL may ensure a higher rate of pay.

The BLS expects jobs in the heavy equipment operator category to increase up to 10% until 2024. Crane operators should increase up to 16% in the next few years. The average salary for a crane operator is around $45k and can go up to around $54k. More operators, around 21,000 make the latter amount while maybe 2,100 make the higher amount. These statistics are from 2011.

Where To Find Schools in Pennsylvania for a Career for Heavy Equipment Operators

There are quite a few schools in Pennsylvania. Here are a few to consider:

Schuylkill Technology Center – Offers a Heavy Equipment Training Program in Frackville, Pa

  • Program Name: Heavy Equipment Operator Training
  • Ten Week Program
  • Tuition cost: $9,335
  • Type of Program: 2 year
  • Address: 101 Technology Drive, Frackville, PA 17931
  • Phone: 570-874-1034 Extension 4880

Some of the things you will learn in this program are how to use vibrating rollers, dozers, and loaders, along with hydraulic excavators and backhoes. Reading blueprints is vital to this type of job, and there will be a course in blueprint reading. You will learn how to use piping, trenching, building layouts, laser leveling, and site surveying. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and you will learn safety hazards and first aid, along with a CPR training course.

Pennsylvania College of Technology – Heavy Equipment Associate Degree Program in Williamsport, Pa.

  • Program name: Associate of Applied Science in Heavy Construction Equipment Technology
  • Field of study: Caterpillar Equipment, Operator, Technician
  • Program length: 2 years
  • Tuition: $14,370 a year for a PA resident; 18,000 per year for an out-of-state person
  • School Type: 4 year
  • One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701
  • Phone: 570-326-3761

This program is a degree that will enable a graduate to find a position as a heavy equipment operator, technician, a dealership tech or even a sales representative. Caterpillar has an internship for both operator and technician. A must for this degree is a supply of tools. There are some higher specialty tools the school will provide, also.

Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center – Heavy Equipment Diploma Program in Johnstown, Pa.

  • Program Name: Mobile Equipment Operations Technology Diploma
  • Program Length: 6 months
  • Tuition: $11,550
  • Type of School: 2 years, public
  • Address: 445 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown, PA 15904
  • Phone: 814-266-6073

For those who want a more affordable program and finish their schooling in less than a year, this program can be completed in six months. Teaching you about the operations of heavy equipment that includes backhoes, dump truck, wheeled loaders, skid loaders, graders, track excavators and more. Hands on training are the main learning source as well as observation and lectures.

How Does Heavy Equipment Operators Compare To Other Jobs

According to BLS, the jobs researched for this study show that the average heavy equipment operator and mechanic earns around 45k, as explained above. Compared to operating engineers and other construction equipment operators, they make about three thousand dollars more on average. Painters and transportation equipment make about 40k on average and truck drivers, both heavy and a tractor-trailer, make an average of about 40k compared to heavy equipment operators.

Any career in Pennsylvania as a heavy equipment operator has so many opportunities with higher than average pay rates and the benefit of local schools throughout the state to be able to commute as you learn the certifications and degree needed to operate heavy equipment. This is an above average job opportunity, and the schools listed above have all the information to make an informed decision.