How to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator in Rhode Island?Is being a heavy equipment operator in Rhode Island your ultimate career goal? Not only it’s in high demand but it provides better pay for you and your family to enjoy.

But it is not without the completion of a training program as this is required when applying for an apprenticeship or looking for a job.

If you are in other states, training programs for heavy equipment operators can be completed by enrolling in a course offered by trade schools and community colleges.

But there are not many of those schools that exist in Rhode Island.

You can take the training program in another state as preparation to become an apprentice. Here are the schools in Connecticut; here are the choices in Massachusetts.



How to Apply for an Apprenticeship Program

Becoming an apprentice is one of the ways to enter this profession. If you were to hear the stories of those who came before you, they will tell you the same story – they started as an apprentice.

If being an apprentice is the path you want to pursue, you can apply at IUOE Local 57. You have to reserve your slot since the application is on a first-come-first-served basis. You can contact Local 57 at the contact information mentioned below.

  • International Union of Operating Engineers - Local 57
    873 Central Avenue, Johnston, RI 02919
    Phone: (401) 227-9360, Fax: (401) 934-2555

The apprenticeship in Local 57 is a three-year-long, six thousand-hours program. It is divided into six (6) periods.
When you finish the apprenticeship, you reap the benefits – you tend to receive bigger paycheck and have the best competitive advantage over other job candidates, as employer prefers those who had an extensive experience like you.

Wage and Benefits of Apprentices

If you’re now thinking how much pay you are going to receive as an apprentice: In the first period, you are going to get 60% of the journeyman’s base pay; if you reach the second period, the rate increases to 65%, then 70% in the third and so on so forth until you complete the 6 periods. There’s a 5% increase in wages for every period.

As a member of the union, you enjoy perks and benefits such as health and welfare, pension, training fund and annuity fund.



How to Apply for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Having a CDL is not compulsory to work as a heavy equipment operator, but it will give you a competitive advantage because you’ll become more valuable in the eyes of an employer.

You need CDL when you drive these vehicles:

  • Class A – combination vehicles with Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) more than 26,000 pounds, and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds

  • Class B – It is either single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds. The vehicle being pulled must not be more than 10,000 pounds.

  • Class C - Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that either is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver or is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous.
    But, you only need either Class A or Class B to work as a heavy equipment operator.

Here are the requirements you need to be aware of:

  • You must have a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
  • You must be at least 18 years old to be able to drive commercial vehicles within the state of Rhode Island and at least 21 years old to be able to drive interstate.
  •  Proof that you have held a Class D license (or the equivalent of a car driver’s license) for at least two years without suspension or revocation.
  • Proof of residency in Rhode Island, a social security number may be required.
  • Eye exams and medical tests will be performed by the medical examiner.

If you want to get ahead in your job, having a CDL will greatly boost your qualifications. For more information on how to apply, visit the DMV website



Salary of Heavy Equipment Operators Working in Rhode Island

Aside from the satisfaction you get from working as a heavy equipment operator, you also get a good paycheck – it is our source of happiness and that what we came in for.

According to the latest March 28, 2023 report of, the average salary of heavy equipment in Rhode Island is $73,837 but it ranges between $61,744 - $83,763 depending on some factors. 

The experience and work location play a vital role in how much you are going to get. If you also have the certification and other applicable skills, you are in better standing.



Job Market and Opportunities and Employment Outlook

Projected growth rate

The heavy equipment operator profession in Rhode Island is expected to experience steady growth in the coming years. This growth is attributed to increased construction activities and infrastructure development in the state. The exact growth rate may vary depending on economic conditions and government investments in infrastructure projects.

Industries with the highest demand

Heavy equipment operators are in demand across various industries in Rhode Island, including:

  • Residential and commercial construction
  • Road and highway construction
  • Bridge and tunnel construction
  • Utility and pipeline installation
  • Landscaping and site preparation
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Mining and quarrying

Networking and job search resources and Professional associations and organizations

Joining professional associations and organizations related to the heavy equipment operator profession can help expand your network and learn about job opportunities. Some relevant organizations include:

  • Associated General Contractors of Rhode Island (AGCRI)
  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 57
  • Rhode Island Builders Association (RIBA)




Being a heavy equipment operator in Rhode Island is one of the best jobs you want to get into as this trade is highly in demand now and in the coming years.

You just have to complete the training and acquire the certification to improve your competitive edge and get higher pay.

Employment is everywhere, but you’re most likely to be employed in construction – the industry in badly need of talents like you. You can work not only in Rhode Island but anywhere in the country as long as you’re trained and certified.

We wish you good luck with your career!

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