The National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Services (NAHETS) recently
introduced the ADEPT (Adaptable Equipment Proficiency Testing) Certification.
The ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator Certification is designed to measure the
knowledge and skills of an operator against industry and regulatory standards and
expectations using a validated and transparent certification process.
NAHETS offers ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator Certification on the following
pieces of equipment to students at the member schools:
- Wheel Loader
- Hydraulic Excavator
As part of its ongoing efforts, NAHETS is introducing the ADEPT Heavy Equipment
Certification directly to industry.
ADEPT Certification uses an outcome-based methodology. Based on industry
standards, regulatory requirements, and the input of subject-matter experts,
NAHETS developed a set of domains and outcomes that describe the basic
knowledge and skills needed to operate heavy equipment. Each outcome is
measurable and each question and exercise comprising the assessment process is
designed to measure the operator’s knowledge or skill in terms of one or more of
the stated outcomes. As part of the validation process, each domain, outcome, and
assessment tool has been reviewed by experienced subject matter experts and field-
tested for accuracy and applicability.
ADEPT Heavy Equipment Certification consists of written and practical exams.
Written exams explicitly measure the operator’s knowledge of applicable terms,
concepts, and operations. The written exams are divided up into the following:
Core Examination assesses operators on their knowledge of basic heavy
equipment safety and function, earthmoving operations, soils, site layout, and
practical math application.
Equipment Specific Examinations assess the operators on their knowledge
of equipment specific uses, components, controls, safety procedures,
inspection and maintenance, basic operations and cycle time.
The ADEPT practical exams assess the operators on their ability to operate the
specific pieces of equipment safely and effectively. Each operator is required to
execute a set number of exercises on the equipment. These exercises are based on
common tasks and expectations associated with the normal uses for that piece of
What is the value of a third-party certification to the employer?
NAHETS acts as a body independent of the schools or any employers in the
administration of the ADEPT assessments and in determining which operators
will receive the ADEPT certification. The ADEPT certification is built on years of
certification, assessment, and training experience that have been validated by a
An operator with a third-party certification is a valuable asset to the employer. The
ADEPT certification provides the following benefits to both the employer and the
It provides a clear and transparent record that the operator has exhibited
the desired or required level of knowledge and skills as measured against the
This record is available for review not just by the employer but also by all
other stakeholders to include safety inspectors, training inspectors, OSHA
and MSHA inspectors, clients and contractors, and insurance providers.
It removes reliance on assumptions and guesses, which may prove faulty, as
to what an operator may or may know in terms of heavy equipment safety
It can provide a capstone verification of either an employer operated training
program or a NAHETS Heavy Equipment Training course designed to meet
the needs of the employer.
While many experienced and current heavy equipment operators likely are safe
and effective, the ADEPT certification acts as a solid verification of the operator’s
knowledge and skills. The certification provides a clear and transparent record to
all interested parties. As part of the ADEPT certification service, NAHETS maintains
an up-to-date database that records all certified operators. The information is
available upon request to operators, employers and other stakeholders subject to
the relevant privacy policies and laws.
ADEPT Products and Services
Along with the ADEPT Heavy Equipment Certification, NAHETS offers other
products and services to enhance the quality and transparency of heavy equipment
operator knowledge and skills.
ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator Certification: The ADEPT certification for
heavy equipment operators is designed to assess whether or not an operator
has the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities commensurate with the stated
outcomes. The outcomes are designed to describe the expected knowledge,
skills, and abilities of an “entry-level” operator. The outcomes, and the
associated assessments, are based on the following general areas:
- Preventive Maintenance
Basic knowledge of:
o Heavy equipment in the construction, energy, and mining
o Roles and functions that support the use of heavy equipment
- Basic skills in operating the equipment
The assessment tools consist of a series of written and practical exams with
questions and exercises linked explicitly to stated outcomes. Customized
modules of the exams can be developed to meet an employer’s unique needs
ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator Assessments: The ADEPT Operator
Assessments are designed to determine the knowledge and skills of current
heavy equipment operators. Similar to the ADEPT Certification, these
assessments are linked to stated outcomes. The ADEPT Assessment tools
provide employers, operators, and other stakeholders an indication of
the operator’s knowledge, skills, and abilities as measured against the
outcomes. Due to the explicit link between assessment questions and tasks
to the outcomes, it is possible to identify and report areas of deficiency and
necessary follow-up training. The assessment tools consist of a series of
written and practical exams. The employer may choose which exams to use
as part of their assessment process. Customized modules of the exams can
be developed to meet an employer’s unique needs and requirements.
The ADEPT Operator Assessments are not the same as the ADEPT Operator
Certification. Completion of the ADEPT Operator Assessments does not earn
the operator an ADEPT Operator Certification.
ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator Pre-Employment Assessments: The
pre-employment assessments are similar to the operator assessments
but are designed to assist in the hiring decision process. Pre-employment
assessments are administered to applicants for heavy equipment operator
positions to help determine the level or degree of expected knowledge,
skills, and abilities. The assessment tools consist of a series of written and
practical exams. The employer may choose which exams to use as part of
their assessment process. Customized modules of the pre-employment
assessments can be developed to meet the employer’s unique needs and
The ADEPT Pre-Employment Assessments are not the same as the ADEPT
Operator Certification. Completion of the ADEPT Pre-Employment
Assessments does not earn the operator an ADEPT Operator Certification.
ADEPT Customized Curriculum, Certification, and Assessments: NAHETS
works directly with companies to develop dynamic and unique assessment
tools that meet their needs. NAHETS can create a new assessment program
or build on an existing one. Either the company or NAHETS can manage the
administration of the certification or assessment program.
NAHETS ADEPT Training Courses: NAHETS offers flexible courses using
a curriculum based on the stated outcomes. The courses are focused on
safe and effective heavy equipment operation. The courses can be designed
to prepare operators to take the ADEPT Heavy Equipment Operator
Certification exams or to meet specific shortcomings in knowledge, skills,
and abilities as determined by the results of an ADEPT Heavy Equipment
Operator Assessment. Courses can also be designed to meet the unique
needs and requirements of the employer.