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Heavy Equipment Vocational Experiences at Triangle Cross

When you want to find a Boys’ Christian Program offering vocational training that can lead your son to a successful and productive career, please consider Triangle Cross Boys Ranch in rural Wyoming.

While enrolled at Triangle Cross Boys Ranch, your young man will explore many vocation and job options that fit his personality and gifts, learn new skills, and gain valuable work experience that can lead to his best career. Here’s an example of what your loved one may do after enrolling in our vocational experiences at Triangle Crossoperate heavy equipment!

Who Operates Heavy Equipment?

The best operators are self-motivated with strong problem-solving abilities. They take personal pride in their work and pay strict attention to detail.

Skilled operators will pick up the movements and flow of the operation quickly. They have good body awareness and can coordinate their eyes, hands, and feet to subconsciously make the machine perform as they want without having to think about every movement. 

Heavy Equipment Operator Skills & Competencies

In addition to formal training and a license, having specific other skills can help you succeed in this occupation.

Hand and foot coordination: You must coordinate movements of your hands and feet to guide huge machinery in tight places.

Operation Monitoring: You’ll have to read gauges, dials, and other indicators and adjust them as necessary.

Interpersonal skills and teamwork: You must be able to coordinate your actions with those of other workers on busy construction sites.

Troubleshooting: Anyone operating heavy equipment should be able to detect and fix operational problems.

Critical thinking: Your job will require you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of solutions to problems to choose the most likely to be successful and cost-effective. 3

Agricultural equipment operators use various farm equipment to plow and sow seeds and maintain and harvest crops. They may use tractors, fertilizer spreaders, balers, combines, threshers, and trucks. These workers also operate conveyor belts, loading machines, separators, cleaners, and dryers. Workers may make adjustments and minor repairs to equipment. In 2019, over 70,300 agricultural equipment operators earned an average pay of $32,750 each. 5

Employment of agricultural equipment operators is projected to increase 11 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations and faster than any other agricultural worker. Increased use of mechanization on farms is expected to lead to more jobs for agricultural equipment operators relative to farmworkers and laborers. 5


A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to become a construction equipment operator. Vocational skills and math courses are valuable, and a lesson in automotive mechanics may be helpful because workers often maintain their equipment.

Learning at the ranch may be beneficial in finding a job. Schools may specialize in a particular brand or type of construction equipment.

Some schools incorporate sophisticated simulator training into their courses, allowing beginners to familiarize themselves with the equipment in a virtual environment before operating real machines.


Many workers learn their jobs by operating light equipment, such as a trench roller, under the guidance of an experienced operator. Later, they may operate heavier equipment, such as bulldozers. Operators of some equipment, such as machines with computerized controls, may need more training and some understanding of electronics.

Other workers learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeship program requirements differ based on the type of program and by region. During technical education, apprentices learn operating procedures for equipment, safety practices, first aid, and how to read grading plans. On the job, apprentices learn to maintain equipment, operate machinery, and use technology, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

After completing an apprenticeship program, apprentices are considered journey workers and perform tasks with less guidance.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Construction equipment operators often need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to haul their equipment to various job sites. State laws governing CDLs vary.

A few states have special licenses for backhoes, loaders, and bulldozer operators.

Some states and cities require pile-driver operators to have a crane license because similar operational concerns apply to both pile-drivers and cranes. Requirements vary by state. For more information, contact your local or state licensing board.

Important Qualities and Skills Needed to Operate Heavy Equipment

Ability to work at heights. Construction equipment operators may need to service pulleys or other devices located at the top of structures, which may be several stories tall.

Hand-eye-foot coordination. Construction equipment operators should have steady hands and feet to guide and control heavy machinery precisely, sometimes in tight spaces.

Mechanical skills. Construction equipment operators often perform basic maintenance on the equipment they operate. As a result, they should be familiar with hand and power tools and standard equipment care.

Physical stamina. Construction equipment operators may be required to push, carry, or move heavy objects frequently. 

Physical strength. Construction equipment operators may be required to lift more than 50 pounds as part of their duties.

How to Learn to Operate Heavy Equipment

Heavy equipment operators need a high school diploma or GED to enter an apprenticeship or technical school. High school courses that may be useful for future heavy equipment operators are Shop, Mathematics, and Auto technology.

Traditionally, there are three ways to earn an education to operate heavy machinery. The first two involve entering either a union or state apprenticeship to gain plenty of on-the-job training and the potential for employment at the end of the internship. The third alternative is a college or a technical school that provides training and licensing preparation.

On-the-job training includes the use of heavy equipment to gain working experience. Students are taught how to grade, landscape, and excavate. Techniques learned may consist of scraping, compacting, and using controls. 6

On-the-job experience means learning

Motor engine operation

Refueling and battery recharging

Heavy equipment maintenance and inspection

Worksite Inspection

Maintain equipment records and logbook

Site Preparation, process, and surveying


Land Clearing

Grade Checking

Basic hydraulics

Construction drawing

Soil testing

Soil compaction

Working in a muddy environment

Truck Loading

Safe trenching

Heavy Equipment Operator benefits

Salary Information

The median annual wage for construction equipment operators was $49,100 in May 2020. The median salary is when half the workers in an occupation earn more than that amount and half earn less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,300.

Median annual wages for construction equipment operators in May 2020 were as follows:

Pile driver operators


Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators


Paving, surfacing, and tamping equipment operators


In May 2020, the median annual wages for construction equipment operators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction of buildings


Heavy and civil engineering construction


Specialty trade contractors


Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction


Local government, excluding education and hospitals


Apprentices receive less pay than fully trained construction equipment operators. They receive pay increases as they learn more skills. 4

Where to Learn about Operating Heavy Equipment

Triangle Cross Boys Ranch Vocational Experiences Program in rural WY helps young boys take control of their lives and develop independence. Young men produce a wide variety of job skills in various industries, as well as build a foundation in general life skills. Our long-term residential ranch environment and western “Cowboy Culture” promote honesty, integrity, responsibility, and determination.

That’s why we offer young boys hands-on exposure to various vocational skills training such as agriculture management, crop irrigation, carpentry, welding, heavy equipment operations, mechanics, horsemanship/horse training, and animal husbandry.

Call to learn more about our program for troubled boys, ages 10-17, in Powell, Wyoming. We accept young boys year-round. Call (307) 645-3322 today!



1 https://www.careerexplorer.com

2 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/construction-equipment-operators.htm

3 https://www.thebalancecareers.com/heavy-equipment-operator-job-description-4157613

4 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/construction-equipment-operators.htm#tab-5

5 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/agricultural-workers.htm

6 https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-become-a-heavy-equipment-operator