Backhoe operators and other heavy equipment operators are in great demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as construction needs continue to increase in commercial building projects and for infrastructure such as highways. Licensing requirements for heavy equipment operators vary by state. Some states do not require licensing, and some have reciprocal agreements with other states. Additionally, many employers prefer backhoe and other heavy equipment operators to hold a Class A CDL driver's license.
Attend a heavy equipment operator program or school. Some programs teach their students how to operate several types of equipment in addition to backhoes, including bulldozers, wheel loaders, excavators, and skid steer loaders. The school also may be able to provide you with the experience required to obtain a Class A CDL, a license many employers prefer because it allows you to haul heavy equipment on the highway.
Apply for jobs with construction companies that use heavy equipment, if you do not have the money to attend a training program. Some companies provide on-the-job training after you work for a certain length of time.
Call your state Department of Labor or the Department of Workforce Development to find out the licensing requirements for backhoe operators. Some states administer both a written and practical skills test, and others only a written test. Some states also require special licenses for heavy equipment operators working in certain types of situations, such as in landfill operations.
Schedule yourself for the licensing test as soon as you can. Testing slots can fill up, and if you miss the first upcoming one, it may be another month before the next one is offered.
Obtain a heavy equipment operator license for any additional state you plan to work in. In some regions, the state Department of Public Safety conducts routine job site checks including license verification.