Heavy Equipment Operator Training in MontanaAre you planning to take heavy equipment operator training in Montana? This state has a lot to offer from having good pay to varied employment opportunities.

In just a course of several weeks, you can receive the training needed to become an entry-level heavy equipment operator.

The course provides you with practical skills and theoretical knowledge to operate heavy machines. You will receive classroom training and substantial hours of hands-on exercises.

The training will expose you to the actual work environment and will able you to operate major types of heavy equipment you most likely experience in the field.

Now before anything else, the very first thing you need to do is to know if this is the right occupation you want to get into before you commit your time and effort. You have to evaluate your decision many times. Choosing a career takes time to decide, so make sure this profession is what you want to do.

If you already made up your mind that this job is what you want to pursue, here is a guide to help you.

Read on...



Taking the Heavy Equipment Training

As you probably know when you explore a new profession, it may require you to take some training and certification – being a heavy equipment operator entails the same. If you want to take this route, here are the steps you need to do:

  1. Find a heavy equipment operator school where you can register in a course – the list of heavy equipment operator schools and some guidelines on choosing the best one are mentioned below. Find a school that suits your requirement.

  2. Attend the classroom training – you will receive instruction and lectures inside the classroom. This is where you will learn basic civil engineering concepts, applied mathematics, workplace safety and health, basic surveying, as well as the proper use of laser levels, transits, chain and rod, plumb bobs, and hand-sight levels.

  3. Complete the practical training – in this part of the course, you will be taught the in-the-seat operation of many types of heavy equipment. This is where you will spend most of your time practicing and doing the hands-on and actual demonstration. This part of the course consumes more time than classroom training.

  4. Pass the evaluation and assessment – some schools may administer written exams while many don’t. The objective of the written test is to measure the theoretical knowledge that you’ve gained from the classroom training. You will also have to take the performance assessment where you will be given a set of instructions you need to accomplish, the instructor will rate you. When you pass, you will receive your certificate as proof that you’ve completed a heavy equipment training program.

    The objective of the course is to give you the fundamental skills and first-hand experience needed in the operation of heavy equipment – the qualifications needed for you to work in construction, mining, forestry, and other industries.



Heavy Equipment Operator Schools in Montana

University of Montana - Industrial Technology
2795 37th Ave, Missoula, MT 59804
Phone: (406) 243-7640; Fax: (406) 243-7669
Joe Janssen - Program Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Phone: (406) 243-7643

Salish Kootenai College
Highway Construction Training
PO Box 70, 58138 US Highway 93, Pablo, MT 59855

Miles Community College
2715 Dickinson Street, Miles City, MT 59301
Phone: 1.800.541.9281
Flathead Valley Campus
777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901
(406) 756-3822; (800) 313-3822

Lincoln County Campus
225 Commerce Way, Libby, MT 59923
Phone: (406) 293-2721

Montana State University Billings
1500 University Drive, Billings, MT 59101
Phone: 406.657.2011, 800.565.6782
Inquire if there’s such program on schedule

Montana Operating Engineers Apprenticeship & Training
3110 Canyon Ferry Rd, 59635 East Helena, Montana
Phone: +1 406-227-5600

International Union of Operating Engineers - IUOE Local 400
2737 Airport Rd PO Box 5929, Helena, Montana 59601
Phone: +1 406-442-9597



How to Choose the Best Training School

  1. With a recognized training program - make sure that the heavy equipment training program they offer is in accordance with the standard of the National Center for Construction and Research or recognized by any professional organization. Go to the campus and talk to their representative or advisors, inquire about their program.

  2. Choose the one with modern and up-to-date equipment and training facility - As technology is constantly changing so as the heavy equipment, select the school with such heavy equipment. You can do this by taking a tour and observing the equipment and facility they’re using in the training. Talk to their students, get first-hand knowledge from them.

  3. Look for a school that also offers commercial driver’s license (CDL) training – if you could find a training school that incorporates CDL training in their heavy equipment training program that would be beneficial. If you have both CDL and heavy equipment certificate, you boost your chance of getting employed as an employer prefer to hire those candidates with these two credentials.

  4. Choose the school that provides job assistance – one of the hardest parts of the journey is finding a job, this is where the school can come in to help you. They have a network of companies that are needing talents like you.

  5. Find the one that offers financial aid, grant or sponsorship or gives a flexible payment method – taking the heavy equipment training course is not cheap, and we all know the cost could burn a hole in your pocket. One way to defray the tuition is applying for grants or sponsorship, finding a school that offers such. You can also ask the school what payment option you can avail to pay for the tuition.

What are the Requirements You Need to Become Heavy Equipment Operator

  • You may be subjected to random substance abuse tests in accordance with the federal requirement. A positive outcome to such a test may result in removal from the training program.

  • You need to be at least 18 years old in order to get accepted as a heavy equipment operator.

  • A commercial driver’s license (CDL) may be necessary though not every employer will require you to have this, it would be handy to have CDL with you as they prefer to hire those candidates with such credentials.

  • A high school diploma or GED certificate as proof of your education

  • Heavy equipment training certificate – you will earn this by completing the training program offered by a school or institution.

  • You may need 1 to 3 years of experience - You may find it hard to get a job if you are an entry-level individual. To boost your chance, you may take the apprenticeship program, it is on-the-job training, an opportunity to make a living while gaining the required experience.

  • A DOT physical test – some employers may require you to undergo such a test to verify if you’re physically fit and in good health condition to do the job.

Completing the Apprenticeship Program

The average duration of the program is three (3) to four (4) years. You will learn the skills by working with other operators on the actual worksite and by attending the classroom training and field operation training.
You will have a definite advantage among other job candidates vying for the same position if you have completed an apprenticeship program.

If you want to apply for an apprenticeship program, you can contact the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 400, the address and contact info are above for your reference. Ask them if the program is open for an application or if not inquire when they will accept applicants.

Being an operating engineer you will work for many employers during the course of the program. You will learn the trade first hand as you will work together with other journey-level operators and other professionals. You will receive the same benefits such as health insurance and pensions as other members of the union.

The apprenticeship program is an opportunity to make a living while you are learning this trade. Completing the apprenticeship program puts you on a better career path.



Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator in Montana

You may be asking how much salary you can make in Montana. Well, a heavy equipment operator working in this state can receive an average pay of $63,504 per year according to the March 28, 2023 report of Salary.com. The salary range is between $53,103 and $72,041 depending on some factors.

Here are the cities and towns of Montana that pay well:



Angela $66,341 Red Lodge $66,341
Ballantine $66,622 Reed Point  $66,341
Billings $67,392 Saint Regis $66,299
Cooke City $66,341     Shepherd  $66,692
De Borgia  $66,299 Stryker $68,401
Eureka  $68,401 Thompson Falls  $68,401
Fortine  $68,401 Troy  $68,401
Haugan  $66,299 Vandalia $63,494 
Huntley  $67,182 Vida  $66,341
Laurel  $67,042 Volborg $66,341
Marion  $68,401 Westby  $67,336
Olney  $68,401  Whitefish  $68,401
Otter  $66,341 Whitetail  $66,839
Park City  $66,341 Winnett  $66,341
Peerless  $66,341 Wolf Point  $66,341
Plentywood  $67,336  Worden  $66,341
Pryor $66,341 Wyola  $66,341

If you will work in the neighboring state of Wyoming, the pay you could make is slightly lower.

The factors that can affect it are the city/town where you are working in Montana, your credentials and qualifications, years of experience as a heavy equipment operator and other skills you can apply for the job.

It has been reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), operating engineers and other construction equipment operators can expect demand growth from the year 2014 to 2024 this is due to the boom in the construction industry.

You will likely get a job in construction, mining, utility and in road repair and maintenance. The spending on infrastructure is projected to surge which will result in many new job vacancies and who knows maybe a workforce shortage.

Now is the time to get into this profession.

Contacting the Authorities

Montana Department of Labor and Industry
Mail P.O. Box 1728 Helena, MT 59624-1728
Phone Call: (406) 444-2840; Fax: (406) 444-1419; TTY: (406) 444-0532

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
2900 4th Avenue North, Suite 303, Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 247-7494; (406) 247-7499 FAX



To Make a Conclusion

Heavy equipment operator job is going to be in demand in demand in the next coming years, as a matter of fact, it is right now.

Being a heavy equipment operator is a pathway to earning a decent income without the hassle of having strict educational requirements.

Since you will most likely work in a hazardous work environment and handle expensive machinery, you will need the necessary heavy equipment training in Montana.

The employment opportunities are out there. There is expected to be a need for talents like you in the foreseeable future.



Cities and Towns of MT

Livingston, Laurel, Whitefish, Lewis, Sidney,Glendive, Columbia,Falls, Polson, Hamilton, Dillon, Hardin, Shelby, Glasgow, Deer,Lodge, Cut,Bank, Libby, Billings, Missoula, Great,Falls, Bozeman, Butte-Silver,Bow, Helena, Kalispell, Havre, Anaconda-Deer,Lodge County, Miles, Belgrade, Forsyth, Baker, Plentywood, Choteau, Big,Timber, Manhattan, Fort,Benton, Thompson,Falls, West,Yellowstone, Chinook, Boulder, Plains, Whitehall, Eureka, Scobey, Browning, Harlowton, Walkerville, Sheridan, Circle, Terry, Big,Sandy, Belt, Joliet, Wibaux, Hot,Springs, Valier, Broadus, Fromberg, Lodge,Grass, Alberton, Stanford, Sunburst, Twin,Bridges, Jordan, Ekalaka, White,Sulphur,Springs, Troy, Wolf,Point, Conrad, Colstrip, Red,Lodge, Malta, East,Helena, Columbus, send, Ronan, Three,Forks, Stevensville, Roundup, Pinesdale, Chester, St.,Ignatius, Fairview, Ennis, Philipsburg, Superior, Poplar, Harlem, Darby, Culbertson, Bridger, Fairfield, Cascade,

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