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Question: Who are the Operating Engineers?

Answer: Operating Engineers are the people who operate, maintain, and repair heavy construction equipment. You will find Operating Engineers working on the freeways and other construction sites operating cranes and earthmoving equipment such as dozers, scrapers, compactors, backhoes, motor graders, etc. Operating Engineers also perform work as plant operators for rock plants, dredging equipment, and act as special inspectors verifying the quality of construction work. Operating Engineers are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), an AFL-CIO affiliated union that is comprised of independent Locals throughout the country. Local 12--whose territory includes Southern Nevada--is one of the largest and most influential locals in the IUOE.

Question: What is the Southern Nevada Operating Engineers Journeyman & Apprentice Training Committee?

Answer: The Southern Nevada Operating Engineers Journeyman & Apprentice Training Committee is a non-profit entity created by Local 12 and its signatory contractors to provide training resources. Monies managed by the Committee are used to purchase training equipment, to hire instructors, and to provide a host of other educational resources that are used by both apprentices and journeypersons alike. The Apprenticeship Program is completely funded and managed by the Committee.

Question: Are you accepting applications at this time?

Answer: Yes. Applications may be obtained on the third (3rd) Thursday of every month between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM at the Richard W. Dieleman Education & Training Center, 11450 Nadine Peterson Blvd, North Las Vegas, NV 89124


Question: Why are you not open all the time?

Answer: State law requires us to accept applications at least every two (2) years. Applicants that meet the eligibility requirements, which includes passing the written entrance examination, are placed on the Accepted Applicants List (a waiting list). We can only bring people into our program when contractors need additional operators. Usually, there will be more applicants on this waiting list than we can bring into our program in the two year period between openings for new applications. Some applicants remain on the waiting list for the entire two year period. After two years, we open the program again, test new applicants, and create a new Accepted Applicants List. Anyone still on the previous list will need to both reapply, and retest, to again become eligible for the program. Placement on the new Accepted Applicants List is totally dependent on one’s most recent examination score. No credit is given for having been on the previous list.


Question: Can you mail me an application?

Answer: Yes. If you live outside of Clark County (Nevada) an application can be mailed to you. You may use the Contact for Support Form or call (702) 643-1212 to request an application to be mailed to you and provide your name and address.

Question: Do I personally have to pick up the application, or can someone else pick up the application for me?

Answer: Anyone can pick up an application for you.

Question: Do I need experience to apply?

Answer: No. The Apprenticeship Program includes training to bring you up to a minimum level of safety before you are placed on a job.

Question: If I have related experience, will it help me?

Answer: In some cases it may help. For all classifications – other than Surveyors and General Machinist – prior work experience and education can add to the points you receive during the application process. As described in the Oral Interview section of the Apprenticeship Program information found on this website, these points are used to determine your eligibility for an oral interview.

Question: If I am currently working for a signatory contractor (as a laborer, etc.) can I be “sponsored” by this contractor?

Answer: No. The State is very clear on this issue. We are required to treat each applicant equally. Hence, you are required to meet all eligibility requirements, including passing the entrance examination, just like any other applicant.

Question: Where can I obtain information about obtaining a General Education Development (GED) certificate?

Answer: Contact your local, public library for information and/or search the internet for organizations that provide such education.

Question: When selecting desired job classifications on my application, are there some classifications that will provide more opportunities for work than others?

Answer: Apprentices will be indentured into the program based on the needs of the construction industry. Although it is difficult to predict which particular job classifications will be more needed than others, typically the Equipment Operator classification provides the greatest opportunity for employment.

Question: Once my application is accepted, what happens next?

Answer: If your application is complete and includes all required documents, you will be scheduled for a written entrance examination when a test date has been determined. We will contact you by mail to inform you of the date, time, and location of your examination.

Question: How soon after my application is accepted will I be scheduled for an entrance examination?

Answer: We do not have set test dates as they are determined by the personnel demands of the industry.  Once the test dates are set, all applicants that submit complete applications, and who meet the published eligibility requirements, will be notified by mail as to the exact date, time, and location of their examination.


Note: If you move after turning in your application and/or change your telephone number, please send your changes in writing to our office by either faxing it to (702) 643-1213 or by coming in person to fill out a change of address/information form.

Question: What will the test cover?

Answer: Applicants applying for the Surveyor or General Machinist Operator classifications will take an examination that covers high school level algebra and geometry. All other applicants will take a three-part examination that includes the following sections: Verbal Expression, Mathematical, and Mechanical.

Question: How long does the test take?

Answer: Examinees taking the Surveyor / General Machinist Operator examination are allowed one-and-one half (1.5) hours to complete the entire test. Examinees testing for all other classifications are allowed one (1) hour to complete the test. The whole testing process (including check-in, briefings, testing, etc.) typically takes about two hours.

Question: How long before I receive my results?

Answer: Because of the large numbers of individuals testing, examination results may take up to five (5) weeks to be processed and mailed.

Question: Do veterans get any preference?

Answer: No. Veterans do not get any preference over other applicants.

Question: Can I retake the entrance examination during the same application period if I want to try to improve my score?

Answer: No. You will have to wait for the next application period to again apply for the program.

Question: Is there a passing score for the written entrance examination?

Answer: Applicants taking the Surveyor / General Machinist Operator examination must obtain a score of seventy percent or greater to pass. There is no passing score for the written examination conducted for all other classifications; instead, applicants will receive one (1) point for each correct answer they mark on their examinations. These points will then be used – along with other criteria – in determining eligibility of an oral interview.

Question: Does every applicant receive an oral interview?

Answer: No. Surveyor and General Machinist Operator applicants must pass their written entrance examinations to be eligible for an oral interview. Applicants for all other classifications obtain eligibility for an oral interview through a point system that uses a combination of the applicant’s education, work experience, and written examination results. Applicants obtaining eighty (80) or more points will qualify for an oral interview. The point system and oral interview process is full explained in the Oral Interview section of the Apprenticeship Program information found on this website. All applicants receiving an oral interview are placed on the Accepted Applicants List.

Question: How do you select the applicants to begin your program once they are placed on the Accepted Applicants List?

Answer: All accepted applicants are ranked according to their overall score which includes those points received as a result of the oral interview. There are separate lists for each job classification, e.g., Equipment Operator, Surveyor, etc. When a need arises for a specific classification, the applicant with the highest score on the applicable list will be called first. We work down the list from highest overall score to lowest overall score.

Question: How do I determine my position on the Accepted Applicants List?

Answer: Following your oral interview, you will receive a letter explaining your status.

Question: If I am on the Accepted Applicants List, or once indentured as an apprentice, can I search for work by soliciting contractors?

Answer: No. You are not allowed to solicit your own work. It is a violation of the labor contract we have signed with our union contractors for persons associated with our program to individually solicit work. Finding you employment is the responsibility of your assigned Apprentice Coordinator.

Question: If I am accepted into your program, how long will I be an apprentice?

Answer: The program consists of 6,000 hours of on-the-job and six (6) semesters of related and supplemental classroom instruction with the exception of Surveyors and General Machinist Operators who must perform 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and eight (8) semesters of related and supplemental classroom instruction. The related and supplemental instruction occurs at our training site approximately two to three Saturdays a month, although some of our apprentices may attend class during the week or in the evenings instead. Once you have obtained the required on-the-job training hours working for a contractor(s), and have completed all of your related and supplemental classroom instruction, you will have completed the Apprenticeship Program and be classified as a journeyperson. Most of our apprentices complete the program in three (3) to four (4) years.

Question: How much does the program cost?

Answer: There is no cost to you for our program. However, once you start work, you will be expected to join Local 12 and begin paying union dues. The initiation fee to join Local 12 is approximately $800. You will be given a five (5) month period of time to pay this initiation fee once you are dispatched to your first contractor and indentured into our program. After the initiation fee, the annual fee to remain an active member in Local 12 is approximately $288 per year. You are required to maintain an active membership in Local 12.

Question: Can I draw Veteran Benefits while going through the program?

Answer: Yes. We are a state approved apprenticeship program recognized by the Veterans Administration. If you are a veteran, we encourage you to provide us a copy of your DD-214 with your application.

Question: Do you drug test?

Answer: Yes. Before we allow you to begin training, we will drug test you. Many of the contractors in the industry also conduct drug testing as part of their safety programs.

Question: What are the wages?

Answer: Our program is composed of six (6) steps. Once you are indentured and placed on a job, you are at Step 1. A Step 1 apprentice starts at 60 percent of the journeyperson scale (45 percent for Surveyors) for the contract for which dispatched. Every 1,000 hours of on-the-job training (work experience) gives a wage increase of five (5) percent of the journeyperson scale. After completing the program you will graduate to journeyperson level where the wage rate is approximately $35.00+ per hour (plus health/welfare and pension benefits).

Question: Will I be paid during the training?

Answer: Yes and no. The first time you are called off the Accepted Applicants List, you will be required to attend a training site for initial safety training. We cannot place you on a job without you first acquiring basic safety skills for working on a construction site. You will NOT be paid during this time. You will need to remain at the training site until you demonstrate a minimum level of safety for operating basic equipment. You will be asked to attend the training site Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The length of time you spend at the training site can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Some of the factors that affect how long you will be at the training site for this initial training period include:

  • Your ability to learn;

  • Your discipline to attend the training site on a regular basis;

  • Weather (work tends to slow down during the rainy season);

  • Economy (we cannot place you on a job if the contractors do not have work). When work becomes available that you can safely perform, you will be indentured into our program, dispatched to a union contractor, and will begin to earn Step 1 apprentice wages

Question: Does an apprentice receive heath/welfare and pension benefits?

Answer: Yes. Apprentices receive the same health/welfare benefits as journeypersons. Apprentices begin building pension benefits after the first 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job experience.


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