Heavy Equipment Operator Training in South DakotaIf you want to be a heavy equipment operator in South Dakota, you will most likely get employed in mining and agricultural industries – two of the most thriving businesses in this state.

But before you can get your hands on the controls, getting trained is important. Simply put, hiring managers want to hire candidates with the necessary knowledge and practical skills.

If you are still a rookie who is looking for a certificate program or a seasoned individual who is wanting for further education, taking heavy equipment training is part of the process.

You can take that training at school. The school offers training in a variety of equipment types, thus allowing you to gain practical experience and first-hand knowledge on the job site – it is something the employers will be looking for from you.

The whole process takes like this:



Taking the Heavy Equipment Training Program

  1. Find a school where you wan to take the heavy equipment training program. Unfortunately, though, there are not many heavy equipment operator schools in South Dakota. Please see the below list. But be sure that your chosen school offers training in all types of heavy equipment. Check what’s available before making the decision to enroll. If your option is to enroll in the program of a school in another state, you can do so.

  2. Attend the classroom instruction. The classroom training incorporates site safety training, use of GPS for equipment positioning, use of applicable computer software for planning, applied math, basic surveying, and other subjects that may be deemed necessary.

  3. Attend the practical training on the job site. This field training will provide the students with the basic skills necessary to operate and handle the equipment safely. This in-the-seat part of the program is a crucial element in order for the student to obtain the practical experience and operational skills to be prepared for the actual job. This part emphasizes the equipment and site safety, pre-operational checks, shut down procedures, machine maintenance, laser grade checking. You spend most of the time doing this hands-on training.

  4. Pass the evaluation. The instructor may administer a written test and/or performance assessment to measure the students’ knowledge and skills obtained from the training. If you pass the evaluation, you will receive a certification of training completion. The passing grade for the written and performance assessment may depend on the school.

How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

The first route you can take is by enrolling in a program offered by a training school, see below for the list of schools. The typical length of the program is 6 to 10 weeks depending on the training package and the cost may range from $8,000 to $12,000. It involves taking the theoretical training which happens inside the classroom and the field and in-the-seat training which you will learn the operation of the six (6) basic types of heavy equipment – backhoes, loaders, bulldozers, excavators, dump trucks, and graders. In SD, Lake Area Technical Institute is offering such a program, see their contact info below. If you want to take the training program in another neighboring state, you may do so.

The second route is to be an apprentice. It is a great way to learn the trade while making a living. Apprentices work and earn considerable pay during the training period. It usually lasts for three (3) to four (4) years to complete. If you want to apply for an apprenticeship program, contact the AGC of SD, their address and info are below, they may have openings for this position.

In applying for an apprenticeship program, the applicant must follow steps similar to those when applying for a job. This means you are going to submit requirements and applications and you will also be interviewed. Contact AGC of SD to make an inquiry if they are presently accepting applications.

Lastly, although, we don’t recommend this, you can work in a construction site as a helper of labor. An individual starts in a particular type of equipment such as a skid loader or small backhoes and progresses to a larger piece of equipment such as bulldozers and graders, etc. Through practical experience and informal training, you become familiarized to operate many types of heavy machinery.

Requirements You Need to be an Operator

  • The minimum age requirement to be a heavy equipment operator is 18 years old.

  • You need to be in the excellent physical condition as the nature of the job is demanding. You need to perform the essential functions such as sitting in the cabin for a long period of time, conducting minor repairs and inspections and doing manual handling.

  • You will also need to be in good health condition as you may work in different adverse weather conditions. Exposure to cold and hot weather is a way of life in this type of job.

  • You need to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate.

  • One of the important requirements you need to have is a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You are at a better position to negotiate for your salary if you have this. Employer prefers to hire candidates with such a requirement.

  • Prior experience may not be an important factor if you want to be a heavy equipment operator, you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary for the job during the training.

  • Though, not a requirement, the NCCER certificate is important. The employer may ask you about this. If you have an NCCER certificate, you are most like be favored over other job candidates. Visit this website to apply for this certificate.



Heavy Equipment Operator Schools in South Dakota

  • Lake Area Technical Institute
    Mailing Address: PO Box 730 – Watertown, SD – 57201 / Physical Location: 1201 Arrow Ave. / (605) 882-LATI or 1-800-657-4344 Fax: 1-605-882-6299

  • AGC of South Dakota – Highway Heavy Utilities Chapter
    300 E Capitol Ave, Suite 1, Pierre, SD 57501
    Phone: (605) 224-8689

Financing Your Education

We all know that obtaining a certification can be expensive. Completing heavy equipment operator training could cost thousands of dollars. It should not hold you back from attaining your goal. Fortunately, there are financing options you can avail to pay for the tuition:

  • A career loan is one of the options you can take advantage of. It can cover expenses such as tuition fees, books and materials, board and other expenses. A career loan covers the remaining balance after you have made a down payment. Talk to the school if you are qualified for this, but usually, it is given to an individual with a good line of credit.

  • You can look into Federal grants as well. Some of them that you avail are Veterans Title 31 (Vocational Rehabilitation), Workforce Investment Act (WIA), Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), Displaced Workers, Displaced Farmers, Vocational Rehabilitation, Tribal Education (BIA), Department of Workforce Development.

  • You can also be qualified for a scholarship. Such a benefit is given to qualified students. Make an inquiry with your chosen school if they bestow a scholarship to you.



Average Salary of Heavy Equipment Operator School in SD

If you are wondering how much pay you would get being a heavy equipment operator in SD, well, according to the latest March 28, 2023 report of Salary.com, the average salary is $59,966.

Since the salary may vary depending on the city where you are working and other considerations such as your experience, certifications and other applicable skills, it ranges from $50,145 and $68,028.

Here are the cities and towns of South Dakota that pay well:

Alexandria  $61,837  --  Ortley $64,674
Andover $64,674 Pollock $67,336
Big Stone City $64,357   Rosholt $64,674
Bristol $64,674   Sioux Falls $62,888
Claire City $64,674   Summit $63,255
Eden $64,674   Twin Brooks $63,255
Garretson $62,607   Veblen $64,674
Hecla $64,674   Walker $67,336
Humboldt $62,117   Whitewood $60,590
Keldron $67,336   Worthing $62,427
Little Eagle  $67,336 Woonsocket $61,837
Lyons $62,678 White Owl $60,590
Milbank $64,357   Winfred $61,837
New Effington $64,674   Wood  $57,970

Being a heavy equipment operator is a good career to get into. This job is going to be in demand in the coming years just as it was in the past. Operators have commonly been employed in the construction sites and mining industries – the two sectors frequently in search of qualified individuals like you.

The continuous increase in heavy equipment operator vacancies is no surprise. This is the result of America’s expenditures to build more buildings, roads and bridges and other infrastructure. The growing population is also a contributor to this as well; there will be more homes to be constructed or maintained, because of these, there will be a tight need for talented heavy equipment operators like you now and in the future.

If you are thinking to be an operator, you are on the right track. It is very likely that this will land you a high-paying and satisfying job.



To Make a Conclusion

Becoming a heavy equipment operator is a big decision to make. You want to make the right decision to start and build your career. If you are in South Dakota,

Due to the amount of construction and civil projects, there will be a high demand for heavy equipment operators to do the job.

If you made up your mind that this job is the one you want to get into, start now, enroll in the heavy equipment training program. You will reap great rewards being an operator.

Contacting the Authorities

  • OSHA Area Office
    U. S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health
    Administration 4404 South Technology Drive, Sioux Falls, SD 57106
    (605) 361-9566; (605) 361-9652

  • National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER)
    Main: 386.518.6500, Toll-free: 888.622.3720
    Website: www.nccer.org

Get Your Forklift Certificate Today

Equipment Rental (By State)

Frequently-Asked Questions