Average Heavy Equipment Operator School Cost

Heavy equipment operator is a blue collar job which can literally be dirty and tedious but can be a lucrative career as well. And because a special skill is required for this type of job, along with safety concerns not only with the operator but with the people around and the properties as well, a formal training is usually required either through schooling or apprenticeship.

These operators can work in any kinds of weather, although may be seasonal or project-based because they are usually hired during construction of various projects, during rescue operations in times of calamities, on-call like in the case of equipment rentals companies, and the likes. They typically operate heavy equipment like, but not limited to, below:

Heavy vechicles operator training rate


  • All-Terrain Forklifts
  • Articulated Haul Trucks
  • Backhoes
  • Bulldozers
  • Excavators
  • Road Graders
  • Scrapers
  • Skid Steers
  • Wheel Loaders

With so much more to learn, you would wonder how much the heavy equipment training fees are. Let us find out below.

man operating a heavy equipment

Average Cost of Heavy Equipment Operator Training

The average cost of heavy equipment operator school ranges around $4,000 to $15,000 depending on the school of your choice, location, etc.

There are actually two kinds of certifications you can earn when it comes to heavy equipment operation. One is the CDL of the Commercial Driver’s License and the other one is Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate.

An example of the tuition fee for these two categories is the one from TruckSchool.com with the CDL program costing $5,995 and the HEOC program costing $11,995.

There are also available short term trainings online, the duration of which can range from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on your preference and the type of equipment. These can be found at 360Training.com.

Below are the course names they offer and their corresponding duration times, all of which are priced at $79 each.

  • Aerial Lift (Boom Lift/Scissor Lift) – 1 Hour(s)
  • Articulated Boom Truck (Knuckle Boom) – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • Boom Truck (Stiff Boom Crane) – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • Bulldozer (track & wheel dozers) – 1.5 Hour(s)
  • Dump Truck  1.3 Hour(s)
  • Electrica Pallet Jack  – 1 Hour(s)
  • Excavator  – 1 Hour(s)
  • Front-end Loader – 1 Hour(s)
  • Lattice Boom/Crawler Crane  – 1 Hour(s)
  • Loader Backhoe – 1 Hour(s)
  • Overhead Crane  – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • Pedestal Mounted Crane  – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • RT Crane (Rough Terrain) – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • Sit Down Forklift  – 1.5 Hour(s)
  • Skid Steer (Rubber-tired & Track Loader) – 1 Hour(s)
  • Stand Up Forklift  – 1.5 Hour(s)
  • Telescopic Handler  – 1.3 Hour(s)
  • Trench Safety  – 1 Hour(s)
  • Vehicle Mounted Aerial Lift (Bucket Truck) – 1.3 Hour(s)

What are Included

The heavy equipment operator school cost inclusions depend on the type of coverage or scope of the program which could be solely the choice of the training facility but generally, should include the following:

  • Operator safety training
  • Hands-on training
  • Theories or the classroom discussion about:
    • equipment maintenance
    • land clearing
    • pipe laying
    • road building, grading, and compaction
  • The programs are deemed to meet the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

Also included in the tuition fee is the registration fee which can be refunded in case the student withdraws from enrollment within five days upon initial payment and/or contract signing.

All other inclusions in the price are the typical fees for a regular school such as administrative fees, information technology fees, transcript fees, student association fees, and health and dental fees.

Additional Costs

Aside from the heavy equipment training fees, you will be obliged to pay a nonrefundable fee of around $75 depending on the school which would be used for the application review and background investigation which may include checking of criminal record, driving record, credit report, among others.

Other costs you need to consider are the following:

  • Training supplies which may include books, supplies, and tools – $500 to $5,000
  • Board and lodging – $5,000 to $10,000
  • Training gears like bootshard hats, etc. for hands-on training

After the training, securing a heavy equipment certification would cost around $75 up to $200 depending on the state where you reside or where you prefer to work.

Some states are lenient to heavy equipment operators and would only require a commercial driver’s license in order to operate heavy equipment. CDL license in these particular states may cost around $50 to $200.

Shopping for Heavy Equipment Operator School

If looking for training opportunities and apprenticeship within the United States and Canada, the International Union of Operating Engineers or the IUOE can provide a free locator for your convenience.

Another option can be the National Center for Construction Education and Research or the NCCER which is a database of accredited heavy equipment training programs within the US and Canada as well as its territories.

Factors Affecting Heavy Equipment Operator School Cost

Prior to being employed as such, there are certain requirements and skills you need to acquire or have before you can be hired such as high school diploma, complete the heavy equipment operator training, and take the exam to earn the license or certification.

But just like any type of education acquired in school, the following also affect your budget for the training:

School – the type of training facility you have chosen would definitely dictate the heavy equipment training fees. You may opt for a private school or a technical or community college as your training ground depending on your preference. Just be sure to do your research on how good the training given at your prospective school.

Type of Equipment – the level of difficulty of operating a particular equipment varies so it is understandable that the school would charge differently per equipment type.

Ground school or online – online training is naturally cheaper compared to ground schools due to overhead costs concerns which are scarce in an online setting. But be mindful that online courses are concentrated on the theories alone and you would still need to do hands-on training.

Location – where you reside also plays the part in determining the heavy equipment operator school cost as the cost of doing business also varies per location as reflected in the tuition fee rates that the schools are charging.

Course type or scope – you can take a full course or you may opt for the basic hourly training and work your way up to earning the hours needed to complete the requirements to get your certification.

Payment capacity – your income, or the absence of it, would also be a determinant of how much you have to pay as some states offer financial assistance, scholarship grants, sponsorships, or even internships to those who can’t afford. Ask your state’s community assistance for the details and requirements on how to avail these benefits.

Additional Information

There are several ways to avail of the financial assistance should you wish to enroll in heavy equipment operator training. These are the following:

  • Different school financing options provided by various schools
  • Career loans also provided by training facilities
  • Veterans and military benefits
  • Housing vouchers for veterans
  • National Farmer Workers Jobs Programs
  • State and federal grants

When you thought you can just be an equipment operator through attending school, then you are wrong. There are two other methods you can do to earn the right to operate equipment as a means of living. You can also do it through union apprenticeship and a state apprenticeship.

The majority of the states in the United States require apprentices to be registered with them. These programs provide classroom training that would typically include equipment safety and regulation, repair, and maintenance, soil science, site grading, math and blueprint reading; and on-the-job training with companies that are approved by the state and would normally take three to four years to finish depending on the clocked hours per session.

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