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What Does a Construction Equipment Operator Do?

Construction equipment operators are in high demand because they keep construction sites humming. They control the machines that move dirt, construction materials and other big items needed to build roads, bridges and buildings.

Equipment operators usually specialize. For example, construction equipment operators drive the excavation machines used to dig and lift dirt. Paving and surface equipment operators drive the machines used in road construction to spread concrete and asphalt. Pile driver operators control the equipment that hammers heavy beams called piles into the ground. Operators work in almost all weather conditions and they control machines like bulldozers, front end loaders, excavators, concrete pumps, dump trucks, graders and backhoe loaders.

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Our one-of-kind Opportunity Meter rates jobs based on salary, current openings and future demand to help you choose the career that is best for you.
Median Salary $
Jobs Available
A construction equipment operator will manage an excavator to clear the way for a new road
Running the heavy equipment at a construction site requires patience and a steady hand. (Credit: Juan Enrique del Barrio/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  • Operate heavy machinery to move materials at building sites
  • Maintain equipment and make basic repairs 
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Monitor machine gauges and adjust as needed
  • Follow all safety standards
Education + Training

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some workers attend technical school with classes in math and mechanics. Others learn their trade through an apprenticeship, which can last three or four years and includes on-the-job training. At a minimum, a commercial driver’s license is required. Most states and some cities require a special certificate for operators of specific machines like pile drivers.

  • Have steady hands and feet to operate the equipment 
  • Are detail-oriented
  • Have mechanical skills
  • Are not afraid of heights

Construction Equipment Operator training in your area


Forklift Operation and Certification

Seattle Central College
Seattle (0.0 Miles)

Forklift Training/Safety/Certification Training

Southern Crescent Technical College
Griffin (0.0 Miles)
Flagler Technical College logo

Heavy Equipment Operations Technician Program

Flagler Technical College
Palm Coast (0.0 Miles)
Gateway Community College

Construction Working Training for Cranes/ Rigging Equipment Certificate

GateWay Community College (AZ)
Phoenix (0.0 Miles)

Truck Driver Training CDL Prep (Class A & B)

Southern Crescent Technical College
Griffin (0.0 Miles)

CDL Truck Driver Training Program & Forklift Operator Training

Prairie State College
Chicago Heights (0.0 Miles)

Commercial Driver's License Program

Fayetteville Technical Community College
Fayetteville (0.0 Miles)

Heavy Equipment Operator Workforce Development

Prince George's Community College
Largo (0.0 Miles)

Heavy Equipment Operations Certificate

Tohono O'odham Community College
Sells (0.0 Miles)

Commercial Driving License (CDL) - Advanced Prep Course

Southern Crescent Technical College
Griffin (0.0 Miles)

Forklift Operator Certificate

Midlands Technical College
West Columbia (0.0 Miles)

Fundamentals for Forklift Driver Training

Fayetteville Technical Community College
Fayetteville (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Rachel Ratican
Rachel Ratican, construction equipment operator
Meet Ambassador
Rachel Ratican

Rachel Ratican always thought she'd go into a medical profession, but seeing the pride that her father showed every time they drove by one of the places he'd helped build changed her mind. 

"I wanted that for my children; I wanted them to see a strong woman who did her part to help the community the way my father did," says Rachel.

A sense of pride brought her to the construction industry, but it's the good pay and teamwork that keeps her there. 

"Turns out earning a living wage and not going into debt was the best choice I’ve ever made!" 

Find out what else Rachel has to say about being a heavy equipment operator

Find Construction Equipment Operator Jobs in Your Area


Heavy Equipment Operator - Excavator

S.T. Wooten Corporation
Clayton ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 9 months 3 weeks ago

Crane Operator

Atlanta ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 year 9 months ago

Operating Engineer

Avery Partners
Thousand Oaks ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 6 months ago

Construction Crane Operator

Weeks Marine Inc
Bourg ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 4 months 1 week ago

Heavy Equipment Operator

Wood PLC
Chatham ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 4 weeks ago

UG Equipment Operator I

RCN Telecom Services
Portland ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Heavy Equipment Operator

Vulcan Materials Company
Houston ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 1 week ago

Landfill Equipment Operator

Waste Pro USA, Inc.
Ball Ground ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months ago