How Much Does Heavy Equipment Training Cost?

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$ Heavy Equipment Certification: $75-$200 $ $ Heavy Equipment Apprenticeship: Up to $5,000 $ $ $ Heavy Equipment Training: $4,000-$20,000

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the heavy equipment operators are trained on how to drive and work with excavators and bulldozers, with cranes and street sweepers, with rollers and backhoes.

Their most common forms of training are in-person training programs and apprenticeships.

Typical Costs

The cost of heavy equipment training is approx. $4,000-$15,000 and lasts three to eight weeks.

West Coast Training in Woodland, WA, provides a heavy equipment training course for eight-weeks for $17,500.

This course allows students to practice in operating backhoes and track hoes, dozers and scrapers, graders and loaders.

The company also provides a four-week advanced training course for $5,900 for graduates who want additional hands-on training.

For example, the Tri-County Driving Academy in Lebanon, VA, presents a five-week beginner’s heavy equipment training course that costs  $4,250.

The apprenticeships price goes up to $5,000 and lasts three or four years.

There are heavy equipment apprenticeships through community colleges, industry associations, technical schools, and trade unions.

For instance, the Operating Engineers Local 701 in Oregon City, OR, have a free-charge apprenticeship program, while the Alaska Operating Engineers have apprenticeships for a $30 application fee.

At the same time, The Western Apprenticeships Coordinators Association in Reno, NV, estimates apprentices will pay $100-$150 for books and $474 (plus $420 annually) for membership in the Operating Engineers Union.

Summit Academy in Minneapolis, has a pre-apprentice training course for $5,400, which prepares students to enter a paid apprenticeship.

Apprentices get the chance to earn 50%-90% of the normal worker’s wages while learning on the job, and the pay will increase as they gain experience.

Heavy equipment certification usually varies by state and costs $75-$200.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators has a list of 18 states and six cities that license crane operators.

California issues permit to crane operators for $100 annually, while West Virginia certifies crane operators for $75 every five years.

In Arkansas, the heavy equipment operators should apply for a commercial contractor’s license, which costs $100 for one year, plus $75 for initial testing costs.

The states that do not require a heavy equipment or crane operator’s license, workers may need to apply for a commercial driving license, for the cost of $50-$200.

What Is Included

  • The heavy equipment training program needs to cover the safe operation of vehicles, this means hands-on training as well as classroom topics such as equipment maintenance and safety.
  • According to the Education Portal, the additional construction topics covered are road building, land clearing and pipe laying, grading, and compaction.
  • The heavy equipment operators need to be trained in a program that meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.
  • The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators and from the National Center for Construction Education and Research provides an additional accreditation to the heavy equipment training program.

Additional Costs

The additional costs for a heavy equipment training program are ranging between $500 and $5,000 for supplies and $5,000-$10,000 for accommodation and board.

According to the Francis Tuttle Technology Center, students in heavy equipment should purchase steel-toed boots for $50-$125.

AVTEC: Alaska’s Institute of Technology, for instance, estimates extra costs like $3,400 for meals, $4,400 for accommodation and $5,150 for books, supplies, and tools.


Students get the chance to qualify for scholarships to pay for heavy equipment training, ranging from $500-$3,000.

For example, Associated Training Services in Sun Prairie, WI, provides scholarships as well as Performance Training Solutions in Reynoldsburg, OH.

Shopping For Heavy Equipment Training

  • Read our full guide – How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator
  • Links to local chapters in the U.S. and Canada are offered by the International Union of Operating Engineers, which can secure apprenticeships and training opportunities.
  • NCCER offers access to a searchable database of accredited heavy equipment training programs.

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