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Trades & Applied Technology Programs

Heavy Equipment Operator

The Program

This intensive hands-on program provides training in the operation of heavy equipment, routine maintenance of machinery, and the practical field operations of excavating, land clearing, grading and road building. The curriculum includes pre-operational checks of equipment, as well as safe operating techniques specific to each machine.

This program is the only one of its kind offered at a publicly-funded post-secondary institution in B.C. Training can be customized to meet individual needs, as well as those of employers and industry. Training is available on excavators, backhoe/loaders, front-end loaders, graders, bulldozers, dump truck and pup, articulated rock trucks and skid steers. Class 1 and 3 driver training is also available.

Progress is monitored by the instructors as students move through a series of work projects. Progress varies for each person and depends on individual ability to master operating techniques. The instructors are highly trained and have extensive operating knowledge on all machines.

Specialized Training and Contract Work

Vancouver Island University has also developed programs to meet specific industry needs in the following areas:

  • Forklift certification training.
  • JLG operator training.
  • Rigging and slinging training for cranes and boom trucks.
  • Crane and boom truck operator training.
  • Preparation to challenge the crane operator TQ exam.
  • Evaluation of equipment operators.
  • Class 1 and 3 driver’s training.

Costs for specialized training vary. Contact the Program Assistant at 1–888–920–2221 local 6227 or email for more information.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the program have found employment as operators of backhoes, bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators, graders, loaders, and trucks. Wages vary, depending on the employer and the machine to be operated; an average salary for a union excavator operator is $18 to $25 per hour.

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 19 years of age. (Exceptions may be allowed.)
  • Grade 12 or equivalent. (Exceptions may be allowed.)
  • Class 5 driver’s license that must be maintained throughout the program; additional endorsements are required for some equipment.
  • Physically fit and able to adapt to rugged working conditions.

General Admission Requirements

  • Resume and/or letter of intent and/or references may be required.
  • Interview may be required.
  • Mathematics and/or reading and/or trades aptitude test may be required.
  • Good health, free of vision, hearing or respiratory ailments.


The cost is $1,664.64 per week (25 hours) of instruction; the cost for International students is $1,975 per week (25 hours) of instruction. Personal attire to meet WCB regulations is required: steel-toed boots, hardhat, hearing protection, safety vest and gloves, (personal attire will cost approximately $150). Students are also responsible for transportation costs to the work sites. Books and supplies are used at no cost and returned upon completion of the training.

Government student loans and grants are not available for this program. If applicable, contact sponsoring agencies for information on financial assistance.

This program is offered on a cost-recovery basis, and all fees and supply costs are subject to change without prior notice.

Start Date and Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. For further information regarding next available program start dates, applications, and program contacts check the Program Availability List.

Updated April 14, 2015