How to Earn Your Heavy Machinery License

Blog, Heavy Equipment School

If you learn how to operate heavy machinery, you put yourself in a great position to jumpstart an incredible new career. If you want to drive a truck or operate a crane and other heavy machinery on a job site, you might be wondering how exactly you can earn a heavy machinery license to do it.

However, there’s no specific heavy machinery “license” that allows you to do general heavy machinery work. You are, however, required to complete training to start working on heavy machinery, and you can become credentialed for heavy equipment operation and more qualified for the position before you apply. You can do that by making sure you have the best qualifications for the job, and there are many options for how to do so.

West Coast Training has been giving quality heavy equipment training like this since 1959. Our experience and expert staff love working with students and helping them see their potential. With our courses, you can become certified and qualified to do this important work. So what can you do to break into the field of heavy equipment operation?

Complete the Proper Training

The most important step to starting a career in heavy machinery is to complete the proper training. Although some heavy machinery positions might not require certification, they do require a certain amount of education and hands-on training. With training courses like those at West Coast Training, you can feel more confident and comfortable using the machines before you even start a prospective job, and your employer will be aware that you’ve learned everything there is to know about the job and the machines.

At West Coast Training, we offer an eight-week course taught by staff with decades of experience. We are licensed by the state of Washington and are also an Accredited Training Unit of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). With nationally recognized credentials, West Coast Training is an excellent place for you to learn your heavy equipment skills.

Our heavy equipment operator training is a rigorous program for people ready to start a new career. The training is held for 10 hours per day, 50 hours per week, over an 8-week period. There are many different machines available for use, and yet we keep class sizes small to ensure each person has plenty of hands-on time to learn each machine thoroughly. You can be sure that your class won’t have any more than 12 people. A total of 400 hours of quality instruction means that the graduates of this program are as prepared as they can be for an entry-level heavy equipment operator position.

Pass the GED or Graduate High School

Though there aren’t currently any regulations for education level when it comes to completing heavy equipment training, many employers will require it of their employees. But completing high school isn’t the only way to show that you’re educated. If you haven’t received a high school diploma, doing a GED program is an option for you. Completing the program and passing the GED test will signify that you have high school–level academic skills and could make you a more appealing candidate to potential employers.

Do an Accredited Apprentice Program

Another way you can earn the credentials to work with heavy machinery is through an accredited apprentice program. These programs can take anywhere from three to four years to complete and can be done through community colleges or at industry organizations. Though you can be partially paid during your time as an apprentice, the process is much longer than taking an in-depth training course. If you’re looking to get started on your career as soon as possible, training like the ones at West Coast Training are the way to go.

Acquire Additional Licenses and Certificates

Though many heavy machinery jobs only require you to complete the proper training to be eligible for a heavy machinery position, there are some additional certificates, credentials, and licenses that may make you a better candidate for a specific job. West Coast Training offers seminars and exams that can put professionals in the position to further upgrade their skills and resumes.

Crane Certifications

Crane operators specifically can benefit from these types of exam services. Earning your NCCCO crane certificate can set you apart from other crane operators and allow you to operate more complex cranes. West Coast Training offers NCCCO practical exam services for specialties such as swing cab hydraulic, tower crane, Rigger Level 1, and more.

There are also seminars available for this continuing education, such as the 30-hour NCCCO Rigger Level 1/Signalperson Seminar and the 30-Hour NCCCO Tower Crane Operator Certification Seminar. If you’re already a working crane operator and are looking to specialize in one specific type of crane work, this could be a good option for you.


Another optional license you can apply for is a CDL. CDL stands for Commercial Driver’s License, and though it isn’t a requirement for most heavy machinery jobs, it is a requirement if you plan on driving large trucks. According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, a CDL is required for “all trailers with a manufacturer’s weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, and a combined vehicles’ gross weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.”
A knowledge test and a driving test are required to earn a CDL, but training for it can be done at a heavy machinery school. Once you have a CDL, you’ll be able to apply for any job that involves driving large vehicles.

Learning the skills to start a career in heavy machinery is hard work, but with the right training, you can start a new job in just a few months. West Coast Training can provide you with knowledgeable staff and hands-on training to make you the perfect candidate for future employers. With students from around the world, West Coast Training has had graduates who have become employed days after completing their training at our facility, at jobs across the country and even abroad!