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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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$ 30,000 - $ 86,000
$ 49,000
44,740+
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)
A Day In the Life
Image
Rachel Ratican, construction equipment operator
A Day In the Life

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

Job 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.

YOU MAY BE A GOOD FIT FOR THIS POSITION IF YOU
  • 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

Coordinates

Forklift Operator Certification

Paris Junior College
Paris (238.0 Miles)
Central Community College logo

Heavy Equipment Operator Technician, A.A.S.

Central Community College
Grand Island (300.3 Miles)
Central Community College logo

Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Diploma

Central Community College
Grand Island (300.3 Miles)
Lincoln Land Community College

Aerial/Scissor Lift Certification

Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield (376.9 Miles)
Lincoln Land Community College

Forklift Certification

Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield (376.9 Miles)
Lincoln Land Community College

CDL License with Hazmat Endorsement

Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield (376.9 Miles)

Commercial Driver's License Refresher Course

Lake Land College
Mattoon (428.9 Miles)

Forklife Training Non-Credit Certificate

Lamar Institute of Technology
Beaumont (495.6 Miles)

Commercial Driver’s License A Training Program

Joliet Junior College
Joliet (504.7 Miles)

Forklift Training & Certification

Joliet Junior College
Joliet (504.7 Miles)

Forklift Safety Training Non-Credit Certificate

Houston Community College
Houston (508.1 Miles)

Certified Forklift Operator Basic Certificate

Elgin Community College
Elgin (520.1 Miles)

Find Construction Equipment Operator Jobs in Your Area

Coordinates

Loader Operator

Blythe Construction Inc
Greensboro ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 6 months 1 week ago

Equipment Operator

Harsco Corporation
Reidsville ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 4 months 1 week ago

Engineering Equipment Operator (CDL Required)

Department Of Agriculture
North Fork ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 4 months 2 weeks ago

12N Horizontal Construction Engineers

Army National Guard
Coffeyville ( 6.2 ) Miles
Posted 1 month ago

12N Horizontal Construction Engineers

Army National Guard
Coffeyville ( 6.2 ) Miles
Posted 4 months ago

12N Horizontal Construction Engineers

Army National Guard
Coffeyville ( 6.2 ) Miles
Posted 4 months ago

Heavy Equipment Operator

Charah Solutions, Inc.
Oologah ( 45.1 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Grading/Utility Heavy Equipment Operator - Tulsa, OK

CRH
Tulsa ( 63.9 ) Miles
Posted 1 week 3 days ago