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Career change to heavy equipment op??

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by gj_usa1, Jun 15, 2002.

  1. gj_usa1

    gj_usa1 Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    Hello.
    I am not sure if this the correct forum for this question, but I will ask just the same.

    Could anyone here tell me the best way (if there is one) to get into the position of heavy equipment operator ??

    I am a aerospace machinist by trade, who, due to medical reasons, is in need of a career change.

    I have on ocassions, had opportunities to use payloaders, dozers, excavators, backhoes etc., and loved every minute of it.
    (A gentlemam I was friends with had all kinds of equipment, but I know he was self taught starting back in the 50's.)

    My problem is that I have no idea how to get involved nowadays. Are most operators self taught ??

    I know there is a school in Florida, but I would like to know if other avenues are available, if possible.

    Any comment/help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.
    Glenn
     
  2. Temco

    Temco Member
    Messages: 66

    I contemplated doing the same thing but after searching the internet for days, couldn't find a scool locally to learn. The other 2 options are discovered were trying to get into the union and starting off at level 1 being an apprentice (but I wasn't ready for this at age 37!!!). The Mass. Dept.of Public Safety, who issue hoisting licenses here, suggested I make friends with someone who owns a small contracting company and learn on the job, you can easily persuade a local contractor to take you on and train you for a reduced salary with the understanding you want to make it a full time job some day. You will also be covered legally as long as the foreman on the job has an valid hoisting license and is supervising you in the machine. At least in Mass. thats what I learned......hope I helped :)
     
  3. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    It's hard to beat time in the operators seat. Even with schooling, it's hours of operating that makes a good operator. I have a friend that went to that school in Florida many years ago. He didn't get right into the field then. He instead chose to drive an end dump for many years, but for the past few years he has been an operator. He said he learned quite a bit at school, but no one would hire him based on schooling alone.

    We have a short test we give guys who say they can operate. We set up some cones, and give them a soccer ball (or a rock) to move with the bucket (excavator and backhoe). If they can do it, we will give them a chance.

    Even still there are guys that can operate good in the "open" but we would never let them run a machine near wires, pipes, or close to a house foundation. :nono:

    ~Chuck
     
  4. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    I have my hoisting license or hoisting engineer as it is refered to on it.I had to get a contractor to sponser me when I went to get it but as it is for the test is all common sense questions and safty that they want to know.But chuck is right nothing beats actual time behinde the wheel to get the feel for running any peice of equipment,I never had that problem since i have been on equipment since i was very young.Never had a problem working with any piece of equipment only took me a good half hour and it would look like i was running it for years.
    The best way to get a job running equipment might be with a local contractor but you might be required to do more laboring than driving untill they know that you can run it or go to a union shop but you will need experience no matter where you go for a job unless you start out on your own.
     
  5. gj_usa1

    gj_usa1 Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    I recently ran a small excavator at a friends house in which I dug right up against the house for footings to add a 28x32 addition. A guy my buddy hired said he had ran an excavator for quite a while but he stopped because he couldn't stand the boredom. He commented that he would have guessed I ran one for some time as well. Maybe he was just being nice :0)

    Another friend is building a home and he is supposed to ask the contractor who is doing the site work for info. I hope I get some help there as well.

    Anywho, as I said, I sure would like a shot at it, so I will continue to keep hunting for these sites.

    Thanks for posting fellas.
    Glenn
     
  6. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Glenn,

    Take any time you can get in the operators seat. Then when it comes time to "audition" for a new job, your skill will be clear.

    Keep in mind many rental machines have the hydraulics governed. They are not as "touchy" as some of the larger machines. I got used to the slow, sloppy reaction of rental machines, and recently getting in some CAT equipment made me realize what I was missing. VERY sensitive controls. As cat320 mentioned, after an hour or so I was back into the swing again.

    Also keep in mind some machines are "backwards" as far as controls (sticks). Depends on the brand. I know diggerman can elaborate more on this, as we discussed it a bit in St. Louis. Case, Cat, and John Deere use different controls sometimes, unless someone has set them up, as you can change them around with a little re-plumbing of the machine.

    ~Chuck
     
  7. guido

    guido PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 261

    IUOE

    Check out the International Union of Operating Engineers. I grew up in Waterbury, and I believe they have a local out of CT, if not it was just over the NY boarder. Here's the website, you can find your local from there if you have time to hunt for it. Besides some training they might offer, they can give you some advice.

    http://www.iuoe.org/index.asp


    Other than that, like the other guys said, its all about sticktime and confidence.


    Chuck, you made me laugh........... When we first got to the 'Stans we rented a brand new CAT excavator to dig in that hard ass desert sand/rock mix. I jumped in and after running JD excavators for the past 6 years or so almost took out a dump truck I was loading. I forgot that CAT has a different pattern.

    Needless to say there was a little hydro valve and hose shuffling going on! ;) I know, thats cheating, but if we sat there and got used to that for 3 months, we'd come back to Germany and have to get used to the old JD's again.
     
  8. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    Glad to see you posting again guido. Missed you at the symposium, but I know you have a job to do. Hopefully you can make Buffalo next year. :drinkup:

    I never thought of IOUE. I was a member of Local 68 here in NJ for 5 1/2 years, but I was a "Stationary Engineer". They do have a school locally that teaches many courses. Here, they are boiler operator and HVAC courses. I guess in different areas, they (IUOE) cover different trades.

    As far as swapping valves and hoses, that's what diggerman was talking about in St. Louis. No sense in having to get used to a machine you can normally operate in your sleep. Guess you were reverting to instincts when you almost took out that dump truck. With the controls changed, you will be safer, and more effecient.

    ~Chuck
     
  9. guido

    guido PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 261

    Back in Action!

    Yeah I was pretty pissed about the Symposium this year.....I was planning on going until I got shipped out!

    Hopefully I can plan on NY next year. We'll see though, maybe I'll be back in the desert plowing sand (dreaming about snow!)

    I can tie in a trip home to CT with that one!
     
  10. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    It certainly helps! But I've seen guys with years of "experience" who still can't see grade, this seems to be something you've either got or you don't.

    Glenn, if you can see grade, you'll be in demand almost immediately. With some time in a machine, you'll really knock em dead. I'm betting as a machinist you're able to spot minute differences between objects which should transfer to being able to carry a grade. Good luck!
     
  11. gj_usa1

    gj_usa1 Junior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 3

    Thanks Pelican !
    I appreciate you encouragement. Time will tell.