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What Is Heavy Equipment Operator Training?

There are times when people become confused over the term ‘heavy equipment’. The confusion is often related to the size of the equipment when, in reality, size has little to do with it.

In the early days, this equipment was referred to as ‘heavy earth moving equipment’ – in other words, equipment that could move a lot of earth quickly. The comparison was made to a group of people doing the same job by hand. An excavator with quite a small bucket can still dig a hole much faster than any team of manual workers could. This equipment did the ‘heavy’ work, hence the term ‘heavy equipment’. Those who operate these machines where then referred to as heavy equipment operators.

If you want to operate machinery that is designed to move earth, then you need to undertake training to make you proficient in that machinery. These days, heavy equipment is fairly straightforward to use so it doesn’t take long to learn how to operate a range of machinery. This range could (and should) include road graders, loaders, bulldozers and excavators. It is also handy to learn how to operate a backhoe -essentially a combination of loader and excavator. Smaller equipment like a skid steer loader is still considered heavy equipment since its main role is to move earth quickly.

Heavy equipment operator training should be designed to cover three aspects. These are – the skills to operate that equipment; heavy equipment safety operations; and the all-round skills and knowledge that make you work ready. That latter may sound obvious, however, there are many training organizations that will train you to operate heavy equipment, however, they fail to provide training on aspects such as grade reading, soil identification, site layout management, laser levels or heavy equipment maintenance. These are areas that employers expect to see proficiency in when it comes to new recruits.

When looking at heavy equipment operator training, be sure to select a training program that is well rounded and which prepares you well for the workplace. If you don’t, you may struggle to build a successful career as a heavy equipment operator.

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