Pennsylvania Heavy Equipment Training Schools

By Roman Tsivkin

  • Overview

    Pennsylvania schools that provide heavy-equipment training offer degree programs, as well as certificate programs. These educate students about important subjects such as basic safety, equipment preventative maintenance and operation of dump trucks, tractors, loaders, backhoes and graders, among others.
  • Benefits

    Degrees or certificates received after completing the programs help students in getting good jobs in the construction industry, as they indicate to employers that the prospective employee can safely operate heavy equipment like skids, excavators and bulldozers at any work site, be it highways, residential apartments, airports, commercial buildings or farms.
  • Types of Training

    Training usually lasts three to four years for a bachelor's of science degree and two years for an associate's degree. An additional two years after the bachelor's or associate's degree can be completed for certificate programs that emphasize specialization within a certain field and more of a hands-on approach. The programs give students both the technical skills and the theoretical knowledge required while working in the field of highway construction and heavy-equipment operation and maintenance. Learning to operate and maintain heavy equipment also prepares students to be quality-assurance technicians, highway construction workers or inspectors. Training is also available in skills needed to be equipment operators for excavation jobs. Students also spend a portion of their training at actual construction sites to develop real-world skills needed to operate such things as electric arcs and oxyacetylene welding equipment.

  • Schools and Accreditation

    Heavy-equipment programs are offered by the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Penn Commercial Business and Technical School, Rosedale Technical Institute and Lancaster County Career & Technology Center. These schools are accredited by the AED (Associated Equipment Distributors), and offer courses that are well designed as per the industry standards. The AED is a trade association that represents companies that make and distribute mining and construction equipment ( According to, Pennsylvania ranks second only to California in terms of quality of heavy-equipment training programs and the number of programs offered. In addition, Pennsylvania training schools have a very high success rate (over 60 percent) of job placement after training is completed (see Resources below).
  • Courses

    Some courses offered at Pennsylvania heavy-equipment training schools include tools, hardware and failure analysis; heavy-duty brake systems; diesel engines; physics with technological applications and hydraulics. Students are also expected to complete a humanities requirement such as English, as well as mathematics courses such as algebra and trigonometry (see Resources below).
  • Considerations

    Before enrolling in any program, students should ensured that, in addition to accreditation by the AED, the heavy-equipment training program they are considering enrolling in is certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and recognized by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), as well as the Associated Pennsylvania Construction Contractors (see Resources below).
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