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Heavy Equipment Operator Training – Formal Versus Informal Training

There has long been an argument surrounding the best form of heavy equipment operator training. There are those who believe that a long (as in 12 month) apprenticeship type of training is best, and then there are those who believe that informal training by a parent or friend is best. Sitting in between is a formal training program that can be completed in weeks rather than months and an on-the-job training regime that some employers offer. Which then is the best type of training? We believe the short formal training program that we offer delivers the best results for those looking to start a career as heavy equipment operators, however, other training programs do have their positives and negatives. Today we’ll look at the short formal training program and compare it the informal training that used to be the norm.

Formal Heavy Equipment Operator Training


  • Training is completed in as little as three weeks,
  • Students are trained to operate a range of heavy equipment,
  • Students are provided with a wide range of skills, including modern technology,
  • Employers are showing a preference for graduates from reputable heavy equipment training schools,
  • Recognized training certificate issued once a student completes all the training requirements.


  • Cost can be a problem for those on a tight budget,
  • Time off work for those who currently have a job can also be a problem,
  • Difficulty in accessing reputable training schools.
Informal Heavy Equipment Operator Training


  • Cost – this training is often free,
  • You generally know your trainer well,
  • Very flexible training.


  • Lack of employer support for informally trained heavy equipment operators,
  • Incomplete training, particularly when it comes to new technology,
  • Students are generally only trained on one type of heavy equipment,
  • Training can take months if only done on an ad hoc basis.

There are several important points to note from this comparison. The most important is the employer’s preference. They are more likely to employ someone who is well trained through a recognized heavy equipment operator training school than someone who is employed informally – there’s no ‘checklist’ of skills trained in with informal training. When it comes to the cons of formal training, these can often be overcome if students are prepared to work with their training provider. We can help students access loans to cover training costs, we can offer accommodation to ease the difficulty of access, and we even offer alternatives to full-time training to help those in work. Short formal training does stand out as the better option, and being a short training program, it means you are able to transition into a new career very quickly.

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