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Operating Engineers

Dirt Operator

Starting Wage


Journey-Level Wage


Crane Operator

Starting Wage


Journey-Level Wage


The listed wages may vary by state and county. Visit the IUOE Local 49 Apprenticeship website for additional wage and benefit information.

Rock-Solid Benefits

  • Retirement And Pension Funds

  • Wellness Program

  • Health Care

  • Vacation Fund

Career Requirements

  • Must Be 18 Years Old For Hire

  • High School Diploma or GED

  • Driver's License

Crane operating carefully navigating the controls of the crane to haul the heavy metal sheets to the next assembly area.

Have a good work ethic? Like working outdoors? Do you have a mechanical aptitude? Join the men and women who operate big construction machinery - engine-powered machines and equipment used throughout the construction industry. This equipment is used to construct highways, dams, roads, buildings and various other projects. The equipment includes bulldozers, cranes, loaders, scrapers and other related heavy equipment.


Apply to the Operating Engineer apprenticeship through, Local 49 Training Center, here.


High school students should take construction courses that focus on mechanical tasks, and building shop and trade courses. Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads is important.

Operating engineers work with many types of power equipment, including loading and excavation machines, bulldozers, road grinders, booms and trench excavators. Therefore, excellent coordination and mechanical skills are needed. Applicants do not need experience on heavy equipment or any specialized schooling to apply for an apprenticeship.

Completion of high school classes does not count for hours in the apprenticeship program, but the experience and classes taken are valuable to building students skill set and should be discussed in the interview.


A two-year diploma is not required to qualify for an apprenticeship with IUOE, Local 49. However, degrees obtained in construction-related fields can be evaluated for credit. Call Local 49 prior to signing up for post-secondary opportunities to confirm credits transfer. Central Lakes College, located in Staples, Minnesota, offers a post-secondary education program in Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance. This unique four-semester program accepts new students in August and December. 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.


An operating engineer apprenticeship is a two-to-three-year paid program in which apprentices receive both on-the-job practical training and classroom instruction. Applications are accepted year-round. Candidates can choose to pursue a Dirt or Crane apprenticeship and entrance into the apprenticeship can be accomplished by taking one of two paths:

Path 1: Candidates enter a pre-apprenticeship program through Local 49. The program begins in late April and runs for six weeks to prepare candidates for the apprenticeship program. Apply to the Operating Engineers Local 49, here. If you want a tour of the facility call us at Contact us: 612-788-9441 or Text Local49 to 62346.

To learn more and sign up for the pre-apprenticeship program come to a training center meeting in December and early January. View training center meeting dates.

At the pre-apprenticeship Spring Training session, candidates take the Ramsey aptitude test that includes math, reading and tape measure reading sections. Ramsey scores qualify candidates for interviews and the self-description test. The self-description test is a personality evaluation for leadership qualities and how a candidate adapts to situations. There are no testing fees. Candidates with learning disabilities should let administrators know before scheduling the test.

Path 2: Candidates seeking an apprenticeship opportunity obtain a letter of intent with a contractor. A list of contractors can be found, here. A letter of intent, and qualifying Ramsey test score moves a candidate directly into an apprenticeship position.

The Dirt apprenticeship takes approximately 3 years and requires 4,000 hours of on-the-job training and 280 classroom-training hours. A Crane apprenticeship takes six to seven years and requires 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and a total of 576 classroom-training hours. Classroom training is completed in the winter months.

When a dirt or crane operator apprentice can demonstrate competence in vital skills, the apprenticeship will be complete. Dirt apprentices will graduate as a journey-level construction trades worker. Crane apprentices will also qualify as journeyworkers after passing the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators test. This national certification must stay current for Crane Operators. After joining the union, apprentices will be eligible for healthcare and dental insurance after 3 months of work.


Military members applying for an operating engineer position with relevant construction-related experience can present construction-training certificates of completion to Local 49 for credit toward training hours in the apprenticeship. Note that certificates may not count as hour-for-hour credit.


Manual dexterity, coordination task-oriented mindset; ability to use construction tools and construction software is important for an operating engineer. Being able to calmly react to other’s actions, perform maintenance on equipment and troubleshoot causes of operating errors and how to solve them is important for success on the job.

For high school students preparing to become an operating engineer, part-time jobs that require hands-on mechanical and shop work can build valuable experience. Outdoor work experience, such as landscaping or snow removal, is similar to the variety of conditions operators work in.

Local Offices


IUOE Local 49

2829 Anthony Ln S
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55418

IUOE Local 70

2722 County Rd. D East
White Bear Lake, Minnesota 55110

Northern Minnesota

Operating Engineers Training Program

40276 Fish Tail Rd
Hinckley, MN 55045

Drug Testing

An employer/contractor/apprenticeship instructor may require drug and alcohol testing of employees and applicants for employment, including random testing.


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