Heavy Equipment Operator

Length of Program: 12 WeeksProgram Intakes: Fall & Winter IntakesMarch 2020


Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate

Heavy Equipment Operator

Olds College’s Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate is an Alberta Advanced Education papers approved program. Our comprehensive program is developed with industry to keep up with the demands in the workforce. The mix of classroom theory and practical skills are a balance supported by industry.

We work closely with employers and industry and in many ways:

  • Industry advisory group - to help update curriculum as industry needs change
  • Industry guest speakers and field trips to connect our students to employers
  • Industry loaned equipment keeps the tuition costs affordable for our students while providing the employer early access to a pool of qualified new operators. In addition this affords the company a Gift in Kind tax deduction.

For more information regarding industry partnering opportunities, please contact coned@oldscollege.ca

The Heavy Equipment Operator classes are small which lends itself to a cohesive work climate simulating real-life job sites. Industry-standard COVID safety procedures are implemented and enforced, this prepares students to know what to expect when they enter the industry. Seat time is maximized for students as online instruction supplements the real-life scenarios set out to give you industry-related project experience. Our instructors have experience in a variety of industry work environments and have significant expertise to share with students.

The Heavy Equipment Operator program is constructed to ensure entry-level operators attain a professional standard in a twelve-week program, followed by a two-week practicum. Our program has a graduation requirement practicum of eighty (80) hours where students will further develop their skills in an industry-related work site position where they apply new skills from their education and training.

Heavy Equipment Operator Industry Partner Logos

Some equipment you may learn on includes a skid steer, compactor, loader, dozer, grader, and excavator, and rubber-tired hoe.

The program is delivered as face-to-face, on-site practical instruction with an online component. This training takes place over a twelve week period from Monday to Friday with two groups to maximize seat time that students spend in equipment. Group 1 will be scheduled from 7 am-1 pm and Group 2 is scheduled from 12 pm -6 pm. This program observes Statutory Holidays. Some times may vary with prior notice. Keep in mind there are assignments and reading so use your time wisely.

Important attributes of an operator include mathematical ability, excellent vision, and a high degree of physical coordination, as well as:

  • full range of body motion and repetitive motions which specifically affect upper body use
  • sitting for extensive periods of time on vibrating and/or bouncing machinery
  • manual and finger dexterity as well as eye-hand and foot coordination
  • excellent physical condition and occasional heavy and moderate physical labor required
  • occasional lifting and carrying items up to 50 lbs/22.5 kg
  • corrected vision and hearing within normal range
  • good oral and written communication skills

Are you eligible for the $10,000 Alberta-Canada Job Grant? If you are employed, then under the Canada-Alberta Job Grant, employers will cover a minimum of one third of direct training costs, with up to a maximum of $10,000 in government contributions. Find out more information on your eligibility! 

As this program is approved by Alberta Education - then admitted students are eligible to receive student loans. Please note though, that student loans will not cover the full cost of the program. Please contact your provincial student aid office to determine your eligibility.

What will you learn?

Upon completion of the Heavy Equipment Operator Certificate, you will be prepared to:

  • Demonstrate general principles of operations of selected pieces of equipment

  • Demonstrate the correct procedures for preventative maintenance of selected pieces of equipment

  • Demonstrate employability skills and professional conduct

  • Demonstrate workplace skills in an industry-related environment

  • Demonstrate required fieldwork and jobsite fundamentals

  • Employ current Occupational Health and Safety and relevant industry standards and procedures in the workplace

  • Apply the skills required in industry standard safety certificates and programs

  • Communicate interactively in a professional manner with industry associates

  • Gain successful employment in the heavy equipment operation industry

View Program Outline

Program at a glance

Credential: Certificate

Length of Program: 12 Weeks

Directed Field Study/Work Term/Practicum: 80-hour practicum is completed at the end of the program.

Program Intakes: 

  • Fall Intake: September 2022
  • Winter Intake: March 7, 2022 - May 27, 2022

*APPLICATIONS OPEN, Intake nearing capacity and admissible students may be placed on a waitlist. Please contact us to discuss options (trades@oldscollege.ca)*

Program dates: Please visit our Dates & Schedules page to confirm start and end dates of your desired program and confirm campus closures.

Applications Open:

  • Applications open October 1 for Fall Intake
  • Applications open March 1 for Winter Intake

Selection Process for Admission: First qualified, first accepted

Tuition, Mandatory Fees, Books, and Supplies: Please refer to the current Fee Schedule for details.

  • Tuition: $12,590 / Fees: $475 / Books & Supplies: $1,000

* Please note that international students pay 3.5 times the domestic tuition amount. These fees are provided as estimates only for the purposes of budgeting. All students should refer to the Fee Schedule for the most accurate information and all fees are subject to change.*

International Students in this program will require a Co-Op Permit, a Study Permit and a Social Insurance Number for this program. Learn more on the International Students page.

What do I need to apply?

Admission Requirements:

  • High School Diploma or its equivalent
  • Minimum of 18 years of age upon completion of the program
  • Meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement
  • Personal Profile Submission (please use the link to electronically submit your profile)
  • Acknowledge the Student Commitment Contract
  • Answer three (3) questions for your personal profile:
    • Do you have any experience in relation to the program you have chosen, such as operating construction or agricultural equipment, construction worksite activities, mechanical duties, or utility installation? Please provide details.
    • Receiving your Certificate of Completion is only one step of becoming successful in the workforce. What are other attributes or qualities you possess that would be beneficial in assisting you in gaining employment?
    • What research have you done in relation to the program you have chosen; provide details? What are your plans after completing this course?
  • Class 5 Driver’s License
    • Please submit a copy of your Class 5 Driver’s License (GDL licenses are accepted). It is recommended that you have a full Class 5 License as it improves your employability, however it is not required for entrance into the program. Please note: restrictions such as a blow box on your license are not acceptable to enter into the program.
  • Driver’s Abstract
    • Please submit a recent copy of your Driver's Abstract (current within three months of the start of the program)

Academic Upgrading and High School Applicants: Applicants currently in high school or who are completing academic upgrading must submit proof of enrollment and any available interim/midterm marks. Final marks must be submitted within one month following the completion of the course(s) and no later than one month prior to the program start date.

Alternate Admission Option: Alternate Admission status may be offered to applicants who have not or will not complete one of the academic admission requirements. To be considered under Alternate Admission Status, applicants will be asked to provide the following:

  1. (Required) Transcript(s) showing any completed high school and post-secondary courses
  2. (Required) Letter of Introduction and Intent, outlining the following:
    • Introduce yourself
    • Indicate why you wish to enrol in the program
    • Elaborate on your career goals
    • Detail your experience relevant to this program and the industry
  3. (Required) A resume of your work history, extracurricular activities, volunteer service, etc. for the last 5 years
  4. (Optional) Include copies of any tickets and/or certificates you currently hold (e.g.: first aid, safety tickets, etc.)
  5. (Optional) Letter(s) of reference from current or past employers/coaches/etc. (maximum of two letters)

*Submitting Alternate Admission material does not guarantee admission*

Out of Province Applicants: Please refer to the Provincial Equivalency Chart for course equivalencies.

International Applicants: Olds College welcomes applications from international applicants and those who have completed their high school education outside of Canada. Please note, it is still necessary to meet all of the noted admission requirements, including English Language Proficiency. Further information can be found on our website under International Students.

For More Information

Our Admissions office can help navigate you through the admissions process and answer any questions you have about your program of study.

☎ 403.556.8281
☎ 1.800.661.6537
✉ trades@oldscollege.ca

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Live in residence and enjoy all that our campus has to offer including social activities organized by our Residence Services team. Living in residence is the quickest way to meet new friends. 

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I have some more questions. Who do I contact for help?

Our Admissions office can help navigate you through the admissions process and answer any questions you have about your program of study.

How much time do I get to spend on equipment?

Our program does not limit the hours in equipment as the curriculum is competency-based. So it may take a particular student a lot longer to meet competencies in a grader than it does a skid steer - or vice versa. As our classroom is at site, students typically spend a portion of the morning in the classroom and the remainder of the day in equipment. A significant portion of the program is hands-on learning time in the equipment.

Do you help with job placements for the practicum?

We do not provide placements for students but there are plenty of opportunities to find placement during the program and we have provided a list of companies in the past for students to contact if they still haven't found a placement by the end of the program. We also have a number of employment supports at Olds College which include a job board and job search tools. Make sure to utilize the resume building workshops while you’re at Olds College!

Do I get my own equipment to work in for the duration of the program?

There are multiple pieces of each type of equipment and there are 16-20 students in the class, with 2 instructors. We do not provide a piece of equipment for each student, so yes, there will be sharing. Much of the program is hands-on - so again, as curriculum is competency-based, we do not have set 'hours' (maximum or minimum hours) that a student may spend in the equipment.

What is the safety training that I complete in the first week?

Students complete WHMIS, Standard First Aid & CPR, Ground Disturbance, H2S Alive, CSTS, and RSTS training in their first week. This is mandatory training and you are required to attend even if you have the tickets already.

Where is this certificate recognized?

If you successfully complete the program, then you will receive a Certificate of Graduation - as it is a for-credit program and provincially approved credential that is reviewed annually by industry representatives. As the program is offered through an accredited post-secondary institution, then it will be recognized internationally.

Is this program covered by student loans?

Please contact your provincial student aid office to determine your eligibility. Please remember to plan accordingly for additional living expenses (accommodation, meals, travel) and the required equipment list. More information is available on Student Funding on our website. Don't forget to check out our Student Awards!

Admitted Student

Admitted Student Information

Program Dates: Find out when your term start and end dates are, so that you know when you are expected to be in attendance. For more information, please review the Program Dates & Fee Schedule.

Class Registration: You will be registered into your classes automatically. This will happen approximately 1 month prior to the start-date for your program. You will be notified once you have been timetabled into your courses. You will be able to see your class schedule in your My Olds College account. If you need to make any changes to your class registration, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Technology Recommendation: We recommend that students bring a Windows laptop to complete the online portion of their training. Students will have access to computer labs on campus. If you need to sign out a laptop from the Service Desk, then please submit a request.

As part of your student accounts, all students have access to Office 365 for the duration of their time with Olds College. To access this you just need to follow these steps:

  • Go to portal.office.com
  • Enter your Olds College email address and password
  • Once logged in there is a button on the right that says "Install Office Apps"

This will give you access to the full Office suite on your computer, for both Windows and Mac based platforms.

Materials & Supplies:

Personal protective equipment is required for all field components of the program and must be CSA approved, which includes:

  • Steel toe safety footwear (minimum 6” ankle height)
  • Safety glasses
  • Reflective vest or reflective marked coveralls
  • Hard hat (yellow preferred, NOT white)
  • Hearing protection
  • Work gloves

Failure to wear this equipment when required will result in dismissal from class, as this is a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations of Olds College.

A textbook is required for this program. Further details will be communicated with admitted students nearer to the program start date.

Other Important Information:

  • Time Requirements: This is a very intense 12 week program. Self study of the printed material is mandatory. Students must be willing to treat this program like a job. The field portion is very much like a work site. This program is heavily weighted in employability skills.  It is very important students commit to full attendance.

  • Additional Skills:  mechanical aptitude, good communication skills, exceptional employability skills (i.e. ability to show up on time, abide by worksite & OHS rules, etc).

Required items before your program starts:

  • Your second tuition deposit ($2,000 CAD) is due six weeks before your program starts.
  • A new three year, standard driver's abstract must be sent to your Admission Officer before your program starts. It needs to be dated within three months of your program start date.

  • Typically, student loans cover only a portion of the tuition and fees. Please remember to plan accordingly for additional living expenses (accommodation, meals, travel) and the required equipment list.

Training schedule:

  • Week 1: Mandatory safety training on campus (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • Weeks 2-12: The gravel pit that training is held at is in the Olds area and students are responsible for driving themselves to the location. Training at the gravel pit takes place over a twelve week period from Monday to Friday with two groups to maximize seat time that students spend in equipment. Group 1 is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Group 2 is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; this program observes Statutory Holidays. Section scheduling requests for training time can be accommodated and sign up forms will be sent approximately one month before your program starts.