Can you dig it?

Earn high school credit AND apprenticeship credit while exploring the field of heavy equipment operation and maintenance! There's NO COST to North Dakota public high school students in grades 9-12.

Why be an equipment operator?

  • High wages
  • Top-tier benefits
  • No college debt
  • Skilled jobs that can't be outsourced
  • Opportunity to grow your career

"The Pathway program is spot on getting you ready for the real world." -Marley Sherbon, Pathway program graduate and Local 49 apprentice

Why the Pathway?

  • NO COST to North Dakota high school students in grades 9-12
  • High school credit AND apprenticeship credit
  • Hands-on training events
  • Flexible online class schedules
  • Experienced teachers
  • Industry networking opportunities

Operate real equipment

Students have opportunities to attend hands-on learning events and get behind the controls of heavy equipment. Check out these photos from previous Operating Engineers Pathway events:

"This program will prepare students for an excellent career and help employers find the talent we need to meet the demands of the future." -Molly Barnes, executive vice president of Northern Improvement

Available courses

  • Construction Explorations
  • Basic Grade & Construction Math
  • Basic Construction Equipment Fundamentals
  • Basic Maintenance of Mobile Equipment

Detailed course descriptions here.


  • The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 has partnered with Roughrider Area Career and Tech Center and Stride Career Prep to offer the Operating Engineers Pathway.
  • Students can take four, one-semester online classes to explore careers in equipment operation.
  • Each year there are multiple opportunities for students to participate in hands-on training opportunities, including visits to contractors.
  • Students will receive credit toward Local 49’s Apprenticeship Program based on the number of courses completed and events attended.
  • Participants have access to career counseling and guidance into the operating engineer field for apprenticeships.
  • Students may enroll in one or more courses. They don't need to commit to all courses and can be enrolled based on skill and educational level. These courses have flexible schedules to allow students to remain enrolled at their brick-and-mortar schools.

"I was fully ready to go. And doing those classes got me to be ready to go." -Ryan Milton, Pathway program graduate and Local 49 apprentice


Course descriptions

Construction Explorations

This course provides students with an introduction of the basic equipment used in the construction industry. Students learn about basic equipment operations and job responsibilities. This course prepares students to use concepts pertaining to safety, maintenance, mathematics and communication that operating engineers may experience.

Basic Grade and Construction Math

In the construction industry, grading is the work of ensuring a level base, or a grade with a specific slope. Grade construction work is needed in almost any building project, from laying a building foundation to landscaping to roadwork. In this course, you will be introduced to core equipment used in the staking process, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the construction industry. Communication processes used in the construction industry for interpreting and setting grade are also an important part of this course. Finally, you will learn mathematical concepts related to the construction industry for grade staking.

Basic Construction Equipment Fundamentals

In the construction industry, the proper use of heavy equipment is necessary to ensure quality work and a safe work environment. In addition being able to recognize and determine the use of specific heavy equipment, will create a more efficient work team. Heavy equipment is used in almost any construction project, from building a house to excavating for a new road. In this course, you will be introduced to core equipment used by operating engineers, as well as their maintenance needs. Communication processes used by operating engineers, rigging and signaling practices, safety awareness and mathematical concepts related to the construction industry are also covered.

Basic Maintenance of Mobile Equipment

This course focuses directly on maintenance of mobile equipment through a series of engaging tutorials. A major focus of the course is on maintenance safety including such topics as LOTO. Other topics include tools and fasteners, preventative maintenance principles, engines, intake and exhaust, fuel systems, coolant systems, filters and filtration, lubrication systems, hydraulics, electrical systems, tires, and tracks and undercarriages.

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