dcsimg



Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Heavy Equipment Operator


Description

With their feet working the pedals and their hands using the gears, they maneuver a scoop filled with earth into a pile. There are workers and machines all around them and they have an eye on it all. Individuals who find this scenario appealing may want to check out the occupation of heavy equipment operator. From warehouses to building houses heavy equipment operators work in many different environments. They use mobile machines to excavate, grade and landscape the earth or move workers, materials and other equipment.

Heavy equipment operators may work on many different types of equipment. In this job they use bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders, graders, pavers, power shovels and scrapers. Although, each piece of equipment will have a specific operator such as a backhoe operator or a grader operator some operators are trained to use several pieces of equipment.

The working environment can be noisy, dusty and dirty and, occasionally, equipment operators may be required to work in dangerous locations. They work outdoors in almost any kind of weather, although they may work in air-conditioned and dust-controlled cabs. Heavy equipment operators must also be aware of their surroundings to avoid accidental injury. Operators must be very safety-conscious and follow the signals of ground crew members.
 
         Related Careers
arrow Aggregate Plant Operator
arrow Air Traffic Controller
arrow Aircraft Inspector
arrow [ view all related careers ]



Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Centura College

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

Programs Offered:
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Certificate
  • Building Maintenance and Repair

 

 



  Interests and Skills  
Heavy equipment operators enjoy operating machinery. They are mechanically inclined and have good vision and fast reflexes. Operators generally like troubleshooting and are able to communicate effectively with ground crew and other workers. They need the ability to read grade plans and use grade stakes to measure the amount of earth or other material to be moved, and they must be able to follow spoken directions and/or hand signals.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Bulldozer operators, also called cat operators or cat skinners, operate crawler-tractors equipped with large blades across the front for moving obstacles, rippers for tearing up terrain, or work platforms for other workers to work from. They clear and level land on construction, mining and forestry sites, and push other equipment to provide traction and assistance when needed.
  • Back-hoe operators use various attachments to dig trenches, load heavy materials, vibrate and break rock or concrete, back-fill excavations, and scoop and dump materials.
  • Front-end loader operators operate mobile machines with buckets on the front for picking up heavy loads of earth, rock, sand, gravel or snow, and dumping it into piles, excavations or trucks.
  • Grader operators spread and level earth, sand, gravel and rock, and plow snow in the winter by controlling the height and angle of grader blades. To level surfaces to a specified grade, they make successive passes over the working area, watching reference stakes, level gauges and/or the hand signals of other workers.
  • Paver operators operate asphalt paving machines that lay down asphalt for roads, driveways and parking lots.
  • Power shovel operators manipulate a boom or crane that supports a dipper handle with a large dipper. The dipper is used to scoop up dirt, rock and coal, and drop it into trucks or piles.
  • Scraper operators scrape, load and haul earth on mining or construction sites. They level work sites, haul soil for roads and right-of-ways, and haul coal and ore at mining sites.
  • Each work day will vary depending on the where the operator is working and what machinery they are using. Operating and fixing equipment as needed are daily chores of the heavy equipment operator. They may be at the controls in slippery rainy conditions or in normal weather. Generally, they will work an eight-hour day although frequently due to project deadlines and the occasional weather delay, heavy equipment operators can work weekends and longer hours.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Heavy equipment operators are employed in the petroleum, mining, forestry and construction industries. They may work for general contractors building highways, dams and airports, or installing sewer and other utilities, asphalt paving companies, pipeline companies, or logging companies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is limited room for advancement in this field. With training, heavy equipment operators may advance to operate other machinery or operators may move into related positions such as safety officer or trainer, or advance to supervisory positions.
 

  Educational Paths  
Heavy equipment operators receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a heavy equipment operator, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the heavy equipment operator a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Lincoln Tech

Get a hands-on, job-specific education at Lincoln Tech.

Programs Offered:
  • Heavy Equipment

 
Centura College

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

Programs Offered:
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Certificate
  • Building Maintenance and Repair

 
South Texas Vocational Technical Institute

Get hands-on training with South Texas Vocational Technical Institute.

Programs Offered:
  • Diesel - Heavy Truck

 
HDS Truck Driving Institute
HDS Truck Driving Institute has proudly served southern Arizona since 1991.
Programs Offered:
  • CDL Training Program - 160 Clock Hours
  • CDL Driver Training Program - 80 Clock Hours
  • Professional Truck Driver Program - 730 Clock Hours

 
NETTTS

New England Tractor Trailer Training School has more than a 50-year history of delivering hands-on driver training to qualified candidates.

Programs Offered:
  • Commercial Drivers License

 
Advanced Technology Institute

Get your career in gear at Advanced Technology Institute.

Programs Offered:
  • Tractor-Trailer/Commercial Driving

 
Phoenix Truck Driving Institute
Phoenix Truck Driving Institute trains students to not only pass their Commercial Driver's License (CDL) test, but to become the kind of professional driver that companies seek.
Programs Offered:
  • CDL Training Program - 160 Clock Hours
  • CDL Driver Training Program - 80 Clock Hours

 
Smith & Solomon Training Solutions
Get your career on track with training from Smith & Solomon.
Programs Offered:
  • CDL A: Tractor Trailer Training
  • CDL A: With Passenger Endorsement
  • CDL B: With Passenger Endorsement
  • And more...

 
Yuma Truck Driving School
Yuma Truck Driving School trains students to not only pass their Commercial Driver's License (CDL) test, but to become the kind of professional driver that companies seek. It's what we've done for years, and it's why our graduates are working for many of the nation�s top over-the-road carriers as well as regional and local companies.

Yuma Truck Driving School employs only experienced drivers as instructors. These dedicated professionals receive on-going training in various teaching techniques to ensure the hundreds of students we train each year receive a first-rate education.
Programs Offered:
  • Commercial Truck Driver Program - 310 Clock Hours
  • CDL Driver Training Program - 80 Clock Hours

 
All-State Career
Prepare for an exciting career in the trucking industry at All-State Career. * Programs vary by location * Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information
Programs Offered:
  • Class B CDL Driver Training
  • Class A CDL Prepatory
  • Commercial Truck Driver Training

 
Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
Music
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2018 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.