FAQs

What if I already have extensive experience operating heavy equipment or as a mechanic technician?

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The program has an Accelerated Advancement Procedure for those apprentices who demonstrate an outstanding skill and knowledge of the trade. Those apprentices who qualify can be advanced in status up to and including that of journeyman.

Do I need a driver’s license and my own transportation?

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Yes. Public transportation is seldom available or suitable because of job location and varied working hours.

Are college credits available through this program?

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Up to 45 college credits may be awarded by a local community college to those who successully complete the Operators program.

When are applications available?

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Applications are normally available for a two week period each December. Go to the "Pre-Register" section of this website to register to receive a notice which will be sent to you 30 days prior to the next application period.

Is there training available after I graduate from the program?

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Yes. Continuing education and certification classes are available to journeymen on an on-going basis. Also, the program offers training on new technology that comes into the industry.

Is this an occupation that I can make a career?

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Due to the attractive wage and benefit package that is available the opportunity is there for a possible life-long career. Many members of the Operating Engineers are at this moment enjoying a comfortable retirement. But, just like any other career, you get out of it what you put into it.

What if I have no construction or mechanical experience?

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Those who have the desire and ambition can succeed due to the structured training available through the program. Many people who had little or no experience before entering the program have gone on to be very successful members of the Operating Engineers.

How do I know if this a reputable training program?

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This program has been registered with the Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship and Training and with the PA State Apprenticeship and Training Council since 1964. Local Union #66 was established in 1901 and has 7,000 members. Both have a long history of providing and maintaining a skilled workforce.

How much does the average journeyman work per year?

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Between 1200 to 1400 hours per year for operators and between 1600 to 2000 hours per year for mechanic technicians

Are there any women in the apprentice program?

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Yes. All applicants to the program are treated equally. There are many women currently enrolled in the program and also many women who have graduated from the program and who have gone on to have successful careers as Operating Engineers. Be sure to watch the Groundbreaking Women of the IUOE video located on the Home page.

Do I need to pass a drug test?

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Yes. Drug use is not tolerated in the construction industry where safety is a life and death issue.

How are apprentices selected for this program?

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Apprentices are selected by means of written testing and interviews.

How much will I have to pay for this training?

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The program is funded through a negotiated agreement between Local Union #66 of the Operating Engineers and various employers and employer associations in order to provide a skilled workforce. The average cost to the Program to graduate just one apprentice is $45,000 although the costs to the apprentices are minimal: a $25.00 application fee, Union initiation fees and dues, and the cost of books used in classroom training. (Approximately $250.00 covers initiation and three months dues. Dues are about $15.00 per month thereafter. The cost of books used in classroom training are approximately $50.00 per year).

Are apprentices paid while receiving instruction at the training site?

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No. Wages are only paid during on-the-job training. Apprentices may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits from the state while participating in required training at the Training Site.

How long does it take to complete the apprenticeship course?

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The course is a minimum of 4 years. At least 5 weeks of instruction per year are required at the Training Site. The remainder of the year, apprentices are available for employment with many union employers within the area. There is a minimum requirement for 4,000 hours of on-the-job training in the Operators Program and 6,000 hours of on-the-job training in the Mechanics Program before completing the program.

Is there health insurance and/or a pension available to Apprentices?

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Yes. Through the negotiated labor/management agreement health insurance, pension and an annuity fund may be available.

What is the hourly pay rate of an Apprentice Operating Engineer?

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Apprentices are paid at a slightly lower rate than journeyman operators whose pay rate ranges from approximately $23.00 to $29.00 per hour. Pay rate for operator apprentices range from $18.00 to $27.00 per hour depending on the current year of apprenticeship, the class of machine being operated and/or the job classification.

What Will this Opportunity Cost Me?

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The majority of apprentice training costs are paid by the union members, employers and employer associations. Although the Program is tuition free, there are minimal costs involved such as a small application fee, the cost of books used in classroom training and union membership fees.

What is a Heavy Equipment Mechanic Technician?

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Heavy Equipment Mechanic Technicians play a vital role in the timely completion of construction projects by ensuring that all equipment in the fleet is in safe, top working condition. The work of a Heavy Equipment Mechanic Technician can be very demanding. Long hours of work in all types of weather may be required. But, those with a willingness to succeed can find themselves in a very rewarding life-long career.

What are the minimum requirements for applicants?

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1. Reside in one of the 33 counties of Western Pennsylvania or Columbiana, Mahoning or Trumbull counties of Ohio for a minimum of 6 months.
2. Be at least 18 years of age at the time of acceptance into the program.
3. Have a high school diploma or GED
4. Have a valid Pennsylvania or Ohio driver’s license
5. Have dependable transportation
6. Pass a Department of Transportation physical exam
7. Pass a drug test – Drug use is not tolerated in the construction industry where safety is a life and death issue

What is an Operating Engineer?

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Operating Engineers are key employees on most construction sites. They are responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of the precise and expensive heavy construction equipment; such as cranes, backhoes, loaders, scrapers, bulldozers, rollers, etc. used in the construction of our buildings, factories, roads, dams, power plants and bridges. Because this occupation takes you outside as opposed to the restricting environment of an indoor job, you must be comfortable working in a wide range of weather conditions.