How to Get Your Heavy Equipment Credentials
NCCER is a not-for-profit educational foundation established to improve the construction industry and really revolutionize how people are trained, with the goal of developing a safe and productive workforce.
NCCER develops and maintains standardized training. Once certified, workers are listed on a national registry, which is accessible by employers and human resources to confirm that people on staff and those who are newly hired are up-to-date on the best ways to perform and behave on site.
The credentials offered by NCCER is a standardized construction qualification for all heavy equipment operators. Whether you are looking to work on a construction building project or larger infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, or ports, this certification is for you.
There are three levels of the outlined curriculum offered. Here’s what you can expect:
Heavy Equipment Operations, Level 1
This guide will start you off with the basics. It will cover orientation to the trade, heavy equipment safety, heavy equipment identification, basic operational techniques, utility tractors, introduction to earth moving, and grades part one.
Heavy Equipment Operations, Level 2
Next, you’ll take your training a step further and dig into new topics. In level two, you’ll learn about on-road dump trucks, scrapers, loaders, rough terrain forklifts, excavation math, interpreting civil drawings, site work, skid steers, and soils.
If you thought working as a heavy equipment operator was just learning how to drive the large machinery, you were wrong. This position is much more demanding and requires you to brush up on your math skills if you really want to succeed. But if you can get through this, then you’ll be on the road to a great career, one where you’ll be in the elements, using your mind and body to accomplish amazing feats with talented groups of people.
Heavy Equipment Operations, Level 3
There’s a lot to learn before you join a construction site, and you’re on your way to the career of your dreams. First, you have to finish level three training, which includes finishing and grading, compaction equipment, backhoes, off-road dump trucks, dozers, excavators, and motor graders.
While you can go on the NCCER site right now and purchase these books, the best way to learn the material is in a classroom setting with trained, experienced instructors who can set you on the right path. If you choose a program like West Coast Training’s Heavy Equipment Operator course, the hands-on training you’ll receive is paramount to finding a position once you are certified.
This is what you should look for when seeking a school that will properly prepare you to take tests and earn your heavy equipment certification:
It cannot be iterated enough that hands-on experience on a construction site is just as imperative as the material you will learn in the classroom. And you don’t want to spend your time watching others but actually use the heavy equipment.
Look for a school where the instructors will guide you on the proper techniques and then provide real-life scenarios to practice. Also, make sure various machinery is available to practice with. A list that includes backhoes, dozers, graders, excavators, loaders, scrapers, vibratory compactors, and utility tractors is what you should be looking for.
Small Class Size
This is the time for you to learn everything you can before securing a job, so you’ll want to absorb as much information as possible in the roughly eight weeks you have to learn at school. With that in mind, ask about class size. You don’t want to be just a number; you want to have a personalized learning experience so that your time isn’t wasted.
Also, ask how much time is spent in the classroom. You’ll want to get your hands on equipment on a regular basis, but properly balance that with the classroom training needed to pass your NCCER certification exam. Having at least some time in each arena on a daily basis is ideal.
Post-Graduation Job Placement Assistance
While no school will guarantee job placement, the best ones will help you find a position once your education is complete. Select a school that will offer resume assistance, interview practice, and continued job placement even years after graduation. These services are offered at the best programs, where the staff has connections in all construction fields in cities throughout the country.
Heavy Equipment Specific Program
Not all construction schools offer intensive training for heavy equipment alone. Sometimes a school will teach just level one and two and then add in education on mobile crane operation. If you’re looking to specifically gain heavy equipment certification, find a school that specializes in that area. Make sure that levels one, two, and three are covered and that you will leave ready to pass the certification exam.
The last thing you want to do is commit to training and find that it wasn’t what you expected and didn’t properly prepare you in the ways needed to secure a job. Ask specific questions. Advocate for your future and ensure you’re choosing the best program to meet your career goals.
Earning heavy equipment credentials is a commitment. At most schools, you’ll find that you need to commit 5 days per week, 50 hours per week, for 8 weeks in order to properly prepare for the exams.
While this is a commitment, if your desire is to work in the construction industry as a heavy equipment operator, it is in your best interest to earn your certification as soon as possible. It will certainly make you more employable and will definitely help you grow within the field, as you will have received the needed equipment and safety knowledge.