Do You Need A License To Operate A Skid Steer?

Matt at Centex Excavation
Author: MattPublished: June 19, 2023 • Filed Under: Business and Career

It’s a beautiful day outside, and the sun is shining, but your backyard looks rough. The area is uneven and needs some serious work. Have you considered renting a skid steer to get the job done? If so, you might wonder, do you need a license to operate one? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Our team has compiled all the information to help you make an informed decision.

In heavy machinery, a skid steer is considered an industrial machine. Most states require a special license and training to operate one. You may think that operating a skid steer is simple enough, but the truth is that training is essential to ensure that safety measures are taken seriously.

We won’t just discuss the legal requirements of operating a skid steer and the consequences of operating without a license. We’ll also go over the advantages of obtaining a skid steer license, how to get one, and safety measures to keep in mind while operating a skid steer.

Together, we will learn how to become a pro operators and enjoy all the benefits of using this powerful and versatile machine.

Operating a skid steer is no easy task. You need to be adept at handling the machine, and there are also legal requirements to adhere to. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, making it imperative to know your state’s requirements before even touching a skid steer.

Your need for an OSHA license depends on whether you’re a casual DIYer or a professional excavator. Under OSHA’s Subpart C for General Safety and Health provisions, skid-steer operators must receive training as per the 1926.21(b)(2) and 1926.20(b)(4) requirements. If you’re doing minor landscaping tasks, such licensing may not be necessary.

Operating a skid steer without proper licensing can lead to legal repercussions, making it essential to heed the advice, “lesson learned is a lesson earned.” Failure to obtain the required license can result in a misdemeanor charge and hefty fines, with certain states imposing a six-month prison sentence for the offense.

Conversely, obtaining a skid steer license comes with its perks. A permit adds to your job prospects, unlocks higher earning potential, and ensures that you and others around you are safe while operating the machine. Suppose you’re someone who frequently works with skid steers. In that case, obtaining the necessary license is critical to avoid any legal repercussions, safeguard your interests, and keep yourself competitive in the job market.

Consequences of operating skid steers without a license.

Operating a skid steer is a challenging responsibility that requires proper training. If not adequately trained, it can pose severe dangers. According to OSHA, an untrained operator using a skid steer threatens the machine and the people nearby.

Without a permit, an operator may not be aware of the safety procedures necessary when operating a skid steer, causing avoidable accidents, machine destruction, and injuries to the operator and others. If you lack a license or permit to operate a skid steer, any damages and injuries resulting from your hasty or reckless actions while operating the machine are your responsibility to handle.

Unlicensed individuals can have serious accidents involving skid steers. Inadequate training can also result in legal and financial penalties. There may also be severe legal consequences and potential criminal liability for any resulting accidents.

Operating a skid steer without a license is a risky maneuver that is not worth it. The resulting ramifications have potentially harmful impacts on both the operator and their surroundings. Therefore, obtaining a skid steer license is not just mandatory but responsible.

Advantages of obtaining a skid steer license.

Obtaining a skid steer license is an absolute must, with many advantages.

For starters, a valid license increases the safety of yourself, your coworkers, and everyone around you. Picture this – my friend once tried to clear some debris off his property using a skid steer. Oops! The problem was that he had never undergone training or obtained a license. Tragedy struck when things took a turn for the worse, and the skid steer ended up tipping over. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it was a close call.

But that’s not all – having a valid skid steer license is also a great advantage when job hunting because many employers insist on hiring only licensed operators. This is because a license guarantees that skid steer operators have undergone rigorous training and can operate the machinery safely. Obtaining a permit is essential if you’re seeking a career in construction, landscaping, or any field that involves using a skid steer.

Having a license indicates you have the credible experience to operate the machine efficiently and quickly. This stands out to potential employers and gives you a competitive edge over others who have never operated a skid steer. So, in a nutshell, obtaining a skid steer license is a wise investment in your personal and professional life.

Procedures for obtaining a skid steer license.

Obtaining a Skid Steer license involves some distinct requirements that vary from state to state. You must first research the state’s legislation on operating a skid steer to acquire a permit. This research will assist you in determining the eligibility criteria, the training requirements, and the duration of the course, which in turn will allow you to establish the costs and time commitment required.

Once the requirements have been established, your next step will be to enroll in a skid steer operator training program. These classes provide comprehensive and hands-on guidance for the practical aspects of operating a skid steer. The training should equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely operate the vehicle.

From my experience, obtaining a skid steer license was a fulfilling process. I first researched by visiting my state’s website to learn the requirements for obtaining the license, including taking a skid steer class. Following my research, I enrolled in an affordable and flexible training program that allowed me to complete the course in just a few short weeks. I learned the safety rules and regulations and gained a comprehensive understanding of how to properly operate the machine. Upon completion of my training, I was awarded a certificate of completion.

To help get you started, we’ve found a few courses that meet most requirements. These are all accredited courses and will get you on the right track.

CourseSkid Steer Training Course Objectives
360Training.comThe Skid Steer Operator Safety Training course is designed to provide comprehensive knowledge and skills for the safe operation of skid steers on construction sites. It covers essential topics such as skid steer anatomy, safety hazards, and best practices for maintenance and inspection. This online course is suitable not only for skid steer operators who are required to be OSHA certified but also for anyone working near heavy machinery. With 24/7 access and a user-friendly learning management system, participants can learn at their own pace and receive a certificate upon completion. The course content is regularly updated to ensure relevance and accuracy, ensuring that learners are well-equipped to handle skid steers and track loaders safely and efficiently.
Leavitt MachineryLeavitt Machinery’s Online Skid Steer Training program is designed to equip operators with the knowledge and skills required for safe and effective operation of skid steers, also known as track loaders. The course covers a wide range of topics, including safe operator characteristics, laws and regulations, components and attachments, work site hazards, inspections, machine start-up and shutdown procedures, traveling, loading, leveling materials, and basic maintenance techniques. Taking approximately 1.5-2 hours to complete, this online course allows users to learn at their own pace and complies with CSA Standard B335, SAE J1388-2013, and 29 CFE 1926.20-21. After successful completion and achieving a minimum pass mark of 80%, users will receive a certificate of completion.
Lonestar ForkliftThe Online Skid Steer Loader Training course aims to equip operators with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely operate skid steer loaders, also known as bobcats, on job sites. Focusing on safe operating practices, common work site hazards, and skid steer regulations, the course provides an overview of skid steer components, inspection procedures, and various operating techniques. With a duration of approximately 1.75 hours, the course covers topics such as safe operator characteristics, laws and regulations, attachments, safety devices, hazard avoidance, inspection and start-up procedures, traveling and transportation, loading/unloading buckets, leveling materials, tip-over prevention, emergency preparedness, machine shut-down, parking, and basic maintenance. Participants must achieve a score of 80% or higher in the assessment to pass, with three attempts allowed.

Obtaining a skid steer license has proven incredibly valuable, allowing me to confidently operate the vehicle on job sites- while staying within the legal requirements. I strongly recommend it to any aspiring skid steer operator.

Safety measures for operating skid steers.

When it comes to operating skid steers, safety should always be a top priority. After all, prevention is better than cure. Here are some safety measures to consider before operating your machine.

  • Wear the right gear. Protecting yourself from unexpected hazards is important. To minimize the risk of injuries, wear the right equipment. Sturdy boots, gloves, eye protection, and a safety helmet can go a long way.
  • Check for hazards. Before starting the skid steer, inspect for any obstacles that can cause accidents, such as low-hanging wires or uneven terrain. In essence, think ahead and be proactive by identifying any potential hazards. Then, mark them clearly and take steps to remove or avoid them before proceeding.
  • Kee a safe distance. Safety is all about spatial awareness. When operating the skid steer, it’s crucial to maintain a safe distance from other workers and bystanders. Avoid sudden movements or speed changes that could cause injury to others. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility and not just yours.
  • Follow guidelines. The manual is your best friend. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended guidelines. If you are unsure of any procedure or control, don’t hesitate to consult the operator’s manual or ask a qualified professional. 

Safety should always come first.

For example, imagine you are about to operate a skid steer loader at a construction site. Before driving it, check for any obstacles or people in the way. Ensure that the controls are in good working condition, and look for any warning signs that could indicate a potential problem. Following these safety measures minimizes the risk of accidents and creates a safe operating environment for you and everyone involved.

The importance of having a skid steer license.

Skid Steer Operators in Training Class

Operating a skid steer without a license poses a legal risk to you and jeopardizes your safety. It’s crucial to have sufficient training before handling such equipment to ensure smooth and secure operations. By obtaining a skid steer license, you show that you are qualified to operate the powerful machine safely.

Consider it through this lens- you wouldn’t let an unlicensed driver behind the wheel of your car, would you? Equally, not having the appropriate certification to handle a skid steer is like putting yourself and others in danger. Remember that skid steers can be hazardous if operated by an inexperienced individual, and a license proves your expertise.

Having a skid steer license can increase your employability. Many companies require their operators to hold one to hire them. For instance, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in construction or landscaping, a skid steer license can offer you a competitive edge over others who don’t possess one.

It’s not only beneficial but essential to obtain a skid steer license. It verifies your knowledge and experience to safely operate the equipment and can prevent you from facing severe legal and financial repercussions for operating without a license.

Get your skid steer license and stay safe!

Obtaining a skid steer license is an absolute must. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it is also essential for your safety and those around you. Without one, the consequences can be disastrous. But don’t worry; the process is not complicated and could open up so many job opportunities for you.

But more than that, having a skid steer license will give you the peace of mind you need when operating the machine. You will have completed the necessary training and know how to operate it properly and safely. It’s never too late to start, and trust us when we say that the benefits are worth the effort.

So, the next time you consider operating a skid steer, never forget the importance of having a license. It may just be the one thing that saves you from a world of trouble. You will be able to work confidently and quickly operate the machine. It’s the best choice you could ever make.

About the Author

Matt Avatar


Excavation Expert

Matt is a highly experienced heavy equipment operator with over two decades of experience in the construction industry. His expertise covers a wide range of machinery and project types, and he is known for his focus on safety, efficiency, and problem-solving. Matt's commitment to delivering high-quality work within deadlines and budgets has made him highly respected at Centex Excavation and the excavation industry.

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