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Do You Need a License to Operate a Skid Steer?

No, there is no law mandating a license to operate a skid steer. However, anyone who wants to use this construction equipment rental is expected to gain some information and training before taking it to a job site.

Learning how to operate the machinery is very necessary for maintaining safety and protecting your property. Most construction equipment rental companies will offer some training to ensure that you understand the basics of the operation before they will let you take it off the lot.

They will also provide safety information including what to wear while operating it—such as a hard hat and closed-toe shoes—and explain how the kill switch and other functions work.

Note that some rentals offer training and test runs before they can rent the skid steer to you. Some rentals also have one of their drivers drive the skid steer to your site so that they can provide you with the best techniques you can use and to evaluate the condition of your work area.

Skid-steer loaders are complex and potentially dangerous machines to control. They require the combined simultaneous use of the hands and feet to operate most effectively. During use, the center of gravity shifts as the bucket or attachment is raised or lowered or when operated on a slope.

This shift increases the potential for roll-over/tip-over incidents. Operators must be aware of the significant blind spots that are present and be aware of the crush hazard inherent in the lifting arms.

There are also significant hazards to those working around or near the skid-steer due to the movement of the machine during operation. Other factors such as ice, mud and slick work areas, may increase the risk of an incident. Nonetheless, businesses that own rent and/or otherwise operate Skid Steer equipment are expected to:

  • Select and then purchase or rent appropriate equipment for job tasks based upon the work-environment and the completion of a job/task hazard analysis.
  • Make sure personnel are properly trained, licensed, and authorized to operate the specific type(s) of owned/rented equipment, in accordance with established campus guidelines. The department must post a list of these individuals in a conspicuous location.
  • Conduct documented safety inspections and preventive maintenance of the equipment.
  • Acquire and supply all required personal protective equipment (PPE) for persons trained and authorized to operate skid steer equipment. This includes a hard hat, safety glasses, high-visibility vests, safety gloves, and safety shoes/boots.
  • Assure operators adhere to specific safe-work practices whenever using these types of powered industrial equipment including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Approve Contractors/Vendors to use skid steer equipment on their premises, and only allow properly licensed contractor/vendor personnel to use Department-owned equipment. Note: Contractors/vendors must have proof of training and licensing to operate this equipment equal to or exceeding the established requirements for UCSB personnel.

Factors to Remember When Operating a Skid Steer

You need special qualifications to become a skid steer operator in the form of certification through a trusted company, like CAT, which offers skills training and certification programs.

Some positions offer on-the-job training for entry-level operators under the direction of an experienced professional, but most companies require at least one year of previous skid steer operation experience. Other factors to note and remember include;

  1. Training Requirements

OSHA’s Code of Federal Regulations Subpart C “General Safety and Health” provisions requires skid-steer operators to be trained under CFR 1926.21(b) (2) and CFR 1926.20(b) (4) requirements. The employer is mandated to train skid-steer operators so that they can recognize and avoid unsafe conditions.

Training is expected to be comprehensive enough to ensure that the operator is fully capable of safely handling the equipment in the type of conditions encountered at the work site. Only those who are qualified through training and experience should be authorized to operate this type of equipment.

  1. Maintenance

Indeed you may have heard of having to check on your car’s maintenance every once in a while, and construction vehicles are no different. In the same vein, to ensure you are earning more money than you invest, you will have to provide regular care to your investment.

Through frequent check-ups, you can ensure quality performance with your skid steer. After all, a faulty part with the machine could cause a negative domino effect.

  1. Tires

Experts advise skid steer owners to check up on their machines daily, especially when you are about to use them. Notably, you should routinely check the tires as they are the most vulnerable part of the machine. Have it in mind that typical work sites allow the wheels to be vulnerable to tire injuries.

Be on the lookout for inflation, damages, and wears. Dealing with frequent flat tires could be costly. To avoid this, you can acquire solid Bobcat tires.

Though they may be costly, they are cost-effective considering their exceptional quality. Solid Bobcat tires lessen the chances of a punctured tire from occurring. In addition, you can also go for foam filling tires which are heavier than the average Bobcat tire.

Unfortunately, they are harder to service and replace. Lastly, refer to your user’s manual to make sure that each wheel’s nuts are adjusted accordingly.

  1. Fluid Levels

Another very crucial thing to inspect for is the fluid levels: engine oil, hydraulic oil, and radiator fluid, fuel, and coolant levels. This prevents the skid steer from experiencing heat damage and accelerated wear. Insufficient fluid levels could be a sign of worn-out seals or loose hoses. Take note of any leaks and use a grease gun when necessary.

  1. Cleaning

Whenever it is appropriate, you can use a vacuum, pressure washer, and an air compressor to clean the engine and chassis. Have it in mind that this will prevent overheating and engine damage.


When you invest in a skid loader, you will have a valuable, versatile tool to use on your own property, and you will provide yourself with an independent means of earning a good income. When it comes right down to it, your time and skills are your most valuable assets.

However, a license is not a requirement when one is driving a skid-steer loader. Although it does not mean that anyone can operate the machine.

One should at least have a basic understanding of what it’s all about. Common sense would also be a basic factor to consider before getting on one. Operations are easy to learn and that’s why most homeowners rent them.