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What would I do as an Operating Engineer?

Operating Engineers are highly trained, skilled professionals who:

  • Operate heavy construction equipment on high-rise buildings, roads and freeways, residential developments, dams, waterways, airports, and underground tunnels; or

  • Do specialized work operating cranes, concrete pumps, pile drivers, or drilling equipment; or

  • Perform grade checking and other job-related work tasks; or

  • Perform inspections and testing during the construction phase on such things as reinforced concrete, soils, structural masonry, prestressed concrete, structural steel, welding, and non-destructive testing; or

  • Repair and maintain heavy duty construction equipment, working in shops or on job sites where equipment has broken down; or

  • Work in plants that produce sand, gravel, asphalt, and concrete; or

  • Work on or near the water with dredging equipment

What's the downside to b​eing an Operating Engineer?

Operating Engineers must be physically able to perform rigorous work and be willing to accept as a normal part of the job…

  • Dirty, sometimes dangerous conditions

  • Uncomfortably hot, cold and/or inclement weather

  • Work underground, in high places, and in close quarters

  • Long drives to job sites in remote areas and irregular hours

  • Heavy lifting, frequent bending & stooping, prolonged periods of standing/sitting, and walking on uneven surfaces


  • Rough riding heavy construction equipment

Despite the downside, tens of thousands of Operating Engineers will attest that the rewards of this work far outweigh its discomforts.

How does one train to become an Operating Engineer?

Operating Engineer training consists of an intensive work-study Apprenticeship Program which combines on-the-job experience and classroom instruction. There is no monetary cost to the apprentice for this training, but there is a high expectation that each apprentice will bring to their work day…

  • Commitment and self-discipline

  • A desire to be the best at our trade

  • An understanding that we keep good union contractors in business by doing a better job than anyone else they can hire

  • An awareness of the hazardous nature of the work and healthy regard for safety

What are the qu​alifications to enter the Apprenticeship Program?

Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements prior to acceptance into the Apprenticeship Program. These requirements include:

  • Must have a valid and operational e-mail address.  This is crucial for completing the online application during our opening periods and any communication distributed by our office that can be received in your email inbox.

  • Be physically able (with or without accommodation) to perform the work.

       Physical requirements include adequate vision and hearing; the ability to bend and stoop; climb vertical ladders up to five feet (or more) in height; lift loads up to fifty pounds; pull/push levers with resistance up to five pounds; and the ability to sit and stand for long periods of time.


  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent, e.g. successfully completed General Educational Development (GED), or College Degree. 

  • Be at least 18 years old when entering the program. Note: An individual may submit an application at the age of 17 1/2 years of age (at time of application), but acceptance into the program will not occur until the age of 18 is obtained.

  • Be legal to work in the United States.

  • Have reliable transportation.

      Travel to remote jobs and training sites, at various hours during the day and/or night, is required of all apprentices. Reliable transportation is essential. We are a traveling craft as Operating Engineers. It is required that an applicant possess a valid state issued Driver's License prior to being accepted into the program.


  • Pass an entrance examination.

      The entrance examination is designed to test basic verbal, math, and mechanical abilities that are essential for succeeding in the Apprenticeship Program.

    The entrance examination is given in English only.

  • Pass a Substance Abuse Test.

 Prior to acceptance into the program, applicants must pass a Substance Abuse Test. This test will be provided by the Operating Engineers Training Trust.

  Note:  Any required documents that are printed in a language other than English MUST be accompanied by a notarized English translation and must be provided upon receiving a conditional offer into the program at the time of the substance abuse test.

How much can I earn as an O​perating Engineer?

Operating Engineers are covered by collective bargaining agreements between Local 12 of the International Union of Operating Engineers and signatory contractors. These agreements provide good wages, safe working conditions, and excellent benefits. There are different wage rates for different types of agreements and levels of work.

  • Beginning apprentices earn sixty percent (60%) of the current negotiated Journeyperson wage rate. Again, wages will vary per work classification. Wage increases are received upon successful completion of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction.

​Apprentices, as well as Journeypersons, are covered by medical and dental insurance, holiday and vacation pay, a pension plan, and other benefits upon qualification in accordance with established trade agreements.

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