Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program?
The Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program is a training program for individuals to become heavy equipment operators and members of Operating Engineers Local 513.
What is the cost?
The only costs are a non-refundable $100.00 registration fee paid at the start of pre-apprenticeship, and purchase of an apprentice union card and payment of monthly union dues if accepted for the apprenticeship program.
The union card is not purchased until at least three weeks of training are completed, and costs $100.00. Your first three months of union dues must also be paid at the time you buy your card. Union dues are approximately $25.00 per month.
Apprentice (and journeyperson) members of Local 513 must pay monthly dues for as long as they are members of the local. The monthly dues rate is the same for apprentices and journeypersons. Supplemental dues of 2-1/2 percent of gross wages are also payable by all apprentices and journeypersons, and are usually deducted from your paycheck along with the withholding taxes.
There is no tuition or other fees until completion of the program.
How do I get into the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program?
You must fill out an application and go through the selection process (pre-apprenticeship) to see whether or not you will be accepted into the Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Program. (See How do I apply? and What are the requirements for acceptance? and What does pre-apprenticeship consist of?)
How do I apply?
You must apply in person at the Operating Engineers Training Center at 75 Highway F, Silex, Missouri. Hours for application are 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. and 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays.
To apply, you must be at least 17 years of age and a resident within Local 513’s jurisdiction, which covers the eastern half of Missouri.
You must have your valid driver’s license with you when you come to apply. Individuals with only a non-driver state I.D., or a revoked or suspended driver’s license are not allowed to apply.
Other requirements for acceptance must be met when you begin pre-apprenticeship.
What are the requirements for acceptance?
Is there a long waiting list to get in the program?
Applicants are scheduled for pre-apprenticeship—which is the first step—on a first come, first served basis. There is usually a wait of up to one year.
When do classes start?
Classes begin at the start of the selection process, or pre-apprenticeship, that you must attend to be evaluated to determine whether or not you will be accepted for the apprenticeship program. We start the selection process up to three times throughout the year.
What does pre-apprenticeship consist of?
There are two parts to pre-apprenticeship. The first part, is a meeting to gather required documents and information from applicants, such as your high school diploma or GED, your doctor’s statement that you are physically able to do the work of the trade, your valid driver’s license and your payment of a non-refundable $100.00 registration fee.
A written assessment is also given at the meeting. It consists mainly of math problems and word problems to be solved using basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Some problems with decimals and fractions are included—no calculators allowed.
The second part of pre-apprenticeship is a 5-day session at the Operating Engineers Training Center. Applicants are given seat time on equipment (usually a tractor-loader-backhoe), with instructors observing and evaluating them as to whether or not they will be trainable as heavy equipment operators. (No housing is provided by the training program for pre-apprentices.)
Pre-apprentices (applicants) must also pass a drug screen that is scheduled by the training program as part of the criteria for acceptance into the apprenticeship program.
Applicants (pre-apprentices) must meet all the criteria and pass all parts of the pre-apprenticeship process in order to be eligible to enter apprenticeship.
What is the pre-apprenticeship meeting?
The pre-apprenticeship meeting is the first step of pre-apprenticeship (the selection process), and is usually held up to three times each year. The purpose of this meeting is to gather required documents and information from applicants, such as your high school diploma or GED, your doctor’s statement that you are physically able to do the work of the trade, your valid driver’s license and your payment of the non-refundable $100.00 registration fee (cashiers check or money order--NO CASH or personal checks). A pre-entry written assessment is also given during the meeting. (Also see What does pre-apprenticeship consist of? and What is the pre-entry written assessment?)
What is the pre-entry written assessment?
The pre-entry written assessment is given at the pre-apprenticeship meeting. It consists mainly of math problems and word problems that are solved using basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Some problems with decimals and fractions are included. No calculators are allowed.
When will I need to have the CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) permit?
Pre-apprentices must pass the written exam for a CDL (B License with Air Brakes) and show documentation of it the first day of the pre-apprenticeship class. More information about the CDL is given at the pre-apprenticeship meeting that is usually held a few weeks prior to the pre-apprenticeship class.
When does my apprenticeship begin?
Applicants who pass pre-apprenticeship are usually scheduled to begin apprenticeship. New apprentices are first scheduled back for one week of training (Indenture week) that is mainly classroom work.
After Indenture week, new apprentices will be assigned to a three-week training session where most of their time is spent in the seat on equipment. After successful completion of the three-week class, apprentices can purchase their union card (Registered Apprentice Card). At this time they also sign up with Local 513’s dispatcher, who will then attempt to place them on a job as soon as possible.
Should I plan on quitting my current job in the fall when I’m scheduled to start pre-apprenticeship?
NO! The pre-apprenticeship evaluation and initial 4 weeks of training required before going to work in the trade can be drawn out over a period of several months. We advise you to arrange for time off, if possible, so you can return to your current job after attending the pre-apprenticeship meeting and pre-apprenticeship week of class, as well as the first week of class as a new apprentice. Depending on your situation, most people have to quit their job at the time they start the four-week class. You just have to keep in mind that new apprentices must be available for work in the trade once they complete the four-week class and buy their apprentice union card.
How long is the apprenticeship?
The Operating Engineers Apprenticeship is a three-year program. Apprentices are generally only here at the Training Center 5 to 7 weeks each term.
How does it work?
Apprentices attend classes 5 – 7 weeks each year of their apprenticeship, and are expected to be available for work in the trade when not attending a scheduled class.
First year apprentices attend two one-week classes and a three-week class; second year and third year apprentices attend a two-week class and a three-week class each year.
Apprentices do not receive any pay or stipend while attending classes.
Also see When does my apprenticeship begin? and What equipment will I be trained on?.
How long will it take after I apply until I go to work?
It can take approximately 12 – 18 months from the time you apply until you’re sent to work in the trade (see Should I plan on quitting my current job…?).
How do I get a job as an apprentice?
Apprentices are sent to jobs by Local 513’s Dispatcher. “Hiring off the bank”, or soliciting your own job, is not allowed.
There is no guarantee of the number of hours per week that apprentices will work. However, the union makes every effort to keep apprentices working as much as possible. Weather conditions and the economy play a big part in how much work is available for operating engineers. The minimum needed each year for an apprentice to advance to the next level, or term, is 300 work hours.
Typically, operating engineers are not employed by one contractor for years at a time. Rather, they get laid off when a job or project is finished, then contact the union dispatcher right away to get on the out of work list, so they’re available to be sent to another job.
What equipment will I be trained on?
First year apprentices are trained on cranes, skidsteers and backhoes. They also receive CDL training. Second year apprentices are trained on a Scrapers, highlift, dozer or compactor, and cranes. Third year apprentices train on backhoes and again on highlift, dozer, cranes, compactor and blade. Apprentices are also given 20 hours of welding instruction where time allows.
Apprentices receive a percentage of the current Group 1 rate of pay for Local 513 members (rates as of May 1, 2019):
1st Year – 55% or $18.90 per hour
2nd Year – 65% or $22.33 per hour
3rd Year – 80% or $27.49 per hour
Apprentices receive the same benefits package as journeypersons.
Apprentices receive the journeyperson Group I rate of pay on completion of the apprenticeship program ($34.36 per hour, plus benefits, as of May 1, 2019).
After acceptance into the apprenticeship program, housing and meals are provided at no charge at the training center during scheduled classes. The housing is optional, at the apprentice’s request. Housing at the training center is not available to pre-apprentices.
Lunches are provided at no charge for all trainees—apprentices and pre-apprentices.
Classification on Completion
Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, an apprentice must step up his/her apprentice union card to a journeyperson card. The cost to upgrade the union card is $325.00, and the individual then receives the journeyperson rate for work in the trade.
If I’m a member of another union local (carpenters, laborers, etc.) can I transfer in to Local 513’s Apprenticeship Program?
No, you must go through the regular application and selection process.
Page Last Updated: Feb 14, 2020 (12:08:28)