Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt
Search in comments
Filter by Custom Post Type

Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance Diploma

Why Choose Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance Diploma at CLC?

• Unique, one of a kind program within MnSCU.

• High placement rate in an industry that has a high demand for trained operators.

• Gain hands-on experience running equipment that’s fitted with the latest GPS technology

• Construct real-life projects in our 360-acre operations field.

• Earn your commercial driver’s license

About the Program

This in the seat, hands-on training program will prepare you for an industry that continually shapes and changes the physical environment.

You will be able to become part of the crew that builds a roadway, lays pipe for the city, or demolishes a building to make way for a new sports facility, office building or shopping center.

Attend the Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance Program at CLC and train under knowledgeable faculty to operate dozers, excavators, motor graders, loaders, skid steer, backhoes and haul trucks. This in-depth knowledge will make you a valuable asset in the construction industry.

This unique four-semester program accepts new students in August and December. Employment opportunities exist nationwide in various areas of the construction industry, including: Highway construction, underground utilities, pipelines and oil fields, mining, flood control, demolition, mining and logging, and with state and local governments.

Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance Diploma Drug Testing Video

Program Information

Special Department Information:

Program Course Requirements

First Year – Fall Semester
COMP 1101  Computer Fundamentals (3 cr)
HEOM 1101  Construction Safety & First Aid (1 cr)
HEOM 1102  Mechanical Theory (1 cr)
HEOM 1107  Tools, Fasteners, Shop Practices (1 cr)
HEOM 1108  Heavy Equipment Math/Estimating (2 cr)
HEOM 1165*  Commercial Drivers License (3 cr)
HEOM 1200  Intro to Operations (1 cr)
HEOM 1211  Servicing I (3 cr)
Total 15 Credits

Spring Semester
HEOM 1110*  Preventative Maintenance (5 cr)
HEOM 1151  Heavy Equipment Welding (1 cr)
HEOM 1212*  Servicing II (2 cr)
HEOM 2102*  Construction Survey/Blueprints (5 cr)
HEOM 2150  Competent Person (2 cr)
Total 15 Credits

Second Year – Fall Semester
CCST 1530  Employment Strategies (3 cr)
HEOM 2103*  Soils and Compaction (4 cr)
HEOM 2134*  Operations Theory (1 cr)
HEOM 2135*  Construction Theory (1 cr)
HEOM 2136*  Grading Lab I (5 cr)
HEOM 2138*  Grading Lab II (4 cr)
Total 18 Credits

Spring Semester
HEOM 1261*  General Lab (5 cr)
HEOM 2110*  Backhoe/Excavation Theory (1 cr)
HEOM 2111*  Loader Theory (1 cr)
HEOM 2140*  Excavation Lab I (3 cr)
HEOM 2141*  Excavation Lab II (3 cr)
HEOM 2142*  Excavation Lab III (3 cr)
Total 16 Credits

*Denotes Prerequisites

Career Description: Heavy equipment operators are employed in many areas of the construction industry, some of which include both state and local government work, landscaping, road construction, logging, mining, underground utilities and housing developments. Graduates can expect above average earning potential when they are employed in the grading and excavating industry. The ability to operate various types of heavy equipment makes for a versatile employee which is essential to the construction industry. Knowledge of the maintenance of heavy equipment is critical in maintaining daily construction operations. Positions can be found in rural and metropolitan areas with both large and small companies nationwide. Today’s construction includes updated equipment with joystick controls and the use of a global positioning system (GPS). Opportunities are available to progress in the industry to lead operator positions, site supervision or operating your own business. Contractors in all areas of the construction industry need trained employees to be successful.

Program Information: The Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance Program at Central Lakes College, Staples Campus is a unique program offered in Minnesota. The 64-credit program includes courses in both maintenance and operation of heavy construction equipment. Incorporated into the program is the opportunity to “fast track,” which includes attending summer session and completing the program with a fourth semester internship in industry. In the well-equipped West Campus maintenance shop students learn the skills necessary to service and maintain a fleet of heavy equipment. After completion of the maintenance courses, students are given real life projects in the operations field experiencing hands on training on dozers, scrapers, graders, backhoes, wheel loaders, excavators, skid steers and trucks. An opportunity to improve student skills is available on various simulators including truck driving, excavator, motor grader and wheel loader. Curriculum includes courses in construction survey, blueprint reading, and soils and compaction. Experienced faculty share their knowledge and experience from industry with the next generation of heavy equipment operators. Training takes place at the 360-acre Staples West Campus operations training site with ample space for students to experience hands-on equipment operating. Additional areas are available for special operations such as excavating in water and muck, rock work and clearing and grubbing. The West Campus includes an up-to-date classroom facility and recently completed nine-bay maintenance shop with overhead cranes, welding bay and dedicated wash bays. The classroom facility includes a soils lab where students are instructed in various types of soil identification and testing. The Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance Program encourages the development of teamwork and interpersonal communication skills required in the workforce. The program also stresses the importance of safety, a strong work ethic and the value of continuing education and lifelong learning. The Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance Program enables students to stay on top of technological advances in construction equipment, such as GPS, and other issues related to the industry’s needs. We are mindful of the needs of the industry, and strive to educate students to maintain the highest standards of quality and integrity to enhance economic growth in communities. Contractors seek competent people to fill the seats of the retiring generation to uphold a competitive business.

Program Outcomes:
Graduates will be able to:

  • Perform basic operations of earthmoving equipment related to grading and excavation needs;
  • Perform basic heavy equipment maintenance and repairs;
  • Demonstrate written and verbal comprehension of basic surveying techniques related to grades, elevations and blueprint reading;
  • Identify and practice safe work habits as required by OSHA and industry standards;
  • Obtain a current OSHA 10 hour Safety Card;
  • Maintain a Class A Commercial Driver’s License;
  • Maintain a Red Cross CPR/First Aid Certification;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the terms and responsibilities of a “competent person” as it pertains to OSHA, Subpart P.

Special Program Requirements: Students entering the program will need a current CDL permit and are required to participate in mandatory drug testing. Students in the program must maintain a current driver’s license while attending. Random drug and alcohol screening of students in the program will be done throughout the year. In order to graduate from the Heavy Equipment Program, students must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 in the credits attempted and completed towards the technical core of the diploma.

Admissions: The Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance Program is offered as a full-time day program. New students are accepted into the program in August, December, and June.

Career Opportunities: With virtually 100% placement and above-average earning potential, graduates are employed in the grading and excavating industry. Job opportunities are available in all areas of the construction industry as well as mining and logging and also with state and local governments. Many former graduates of the program have become supervisors and some have started their own construction companies.

Career Titles: Some common career titles of this field are heavy equipment operator, pipeline or crane oiler, snowplow operator, and haul truck driver.


gordyGordy Vierkant
Gordy Vierkant worked in Wyoming, Colorado and Minnesota in mining and road construction for 22 years before becoming a heavy equipment instructor at CLC in 1996. He was raised on a dairy and hog farm in Sauk Rapids, MN, and graduated from the Staples Vocational Technical Institute, now CLC, in the Heavy Equipment Program. Vierkant is a certified Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid instructor. Email Gordy for more information


andyAndy Anderson
Andy Anderson says his own education at CLC has led him to several opportunities, including serving as training director for IUOE Local 49. As a graduate of the Heavy Equipment Program, Anderson enjoys sharing his own experiences so his students can learn and grow from them. His sense of humor is just an added bonus to each class.
Anderson is a member of IUOE Local 49 and has a wide variety of field experience including: logging operations, grading and paving, site work, demolition, crane operation and he even did a brief stint on the Alberta clipper pipeline project. He has also done consulting work throughout North America on safe and efficient heavy equipment operations. Email Andy for more information

johnJohn Maleski
John Maleski’s passion for the construction trade first ignited as a child, watching his father as a heavy equipment operator. Before starting at CLC, Maleski managed a truck shop and later worked as an operator and mechanic at a sand and gravel pit. Today, he still stays connected with the industry by working part-time as an MSHA trainer and equipment operator. In that position, he helps contractors connect with CLC students who are looking for a career in the trade. Maleski graduated from CLC’s Diesel Equipment Program, so he holds great pride in coming back to the college to teach.  Email John for more information

Mike Sams

Student Testimonials


Annandale, MN – Graduate
I am a nontraditional student who returned to college after nearly a 20-year break from school. The CLC Heavy Equipment Program is top notch with many pieces of equipment to train on and instructors who are second to none. The instructors bring many years of hands-on experience to the classroom and operations field or sandbox. I felt very much at home the day I walked in the door of the CLC west campus, as the college has a small town feel that makes you feel like family while attending. While on campus I became involved in the Heavy Equipment Club and Student Senate. This is a great program that will train you to be successful in the world of dirt work.


Paynesville, MN – Graduate
I have nothing but good things to say about the program! I started back in 2012 with absolutely no experience and came out with the confidence that I could succeed and thrive in my future career. In my opinion, it isn’t just setup for inexperienced beginners, but the course is laid out very well to encompass anyone wanting to even expand their skills in the heavy equipment trade. The classes in the program relate to many areas associated with heavy equipment giving you everything you need to know to carry a project through from the first blueprints to the final pass with the dozer. All of the instructors are experienced operators, so you’re getting real tips and knowledge that is actually used on the job. They also try their hardest to get you lined up for a successful job before you walk through those doors on graduation day.

Employment Statistics

For more information regarding employment statistics, career salary information and estimated job growth, follow the resource links below:

Gainful Employment – Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance Diploma