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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
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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
North Arkansas College logo

Construction Equipment Operation Certificate

North Arkansas College
Harrison (157.4 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Pallet Jack Technician/Operator Training

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Southern Arkansas University Tech logo

Crane Training Technician/Operator Training

Southern Arkansas University Tech
Camden (292.5 Miles)
Rend Lake College logo

Heavy Equipment Transportation Certificate

Rend Lake College
Ina (378.5 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo

Backhoe Operator Certificate

West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.9 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo

Bulldozer Operator Certificate

West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.9 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo

Front-End Loader Operator Certificate

West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.9 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo

Hydraulic Excavator Operator Certificate

West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.9 Miles)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College logo

Motor-Grader Operator Certificate

West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah (388.9 Miles)
Black Hawk College logo

Fork Truck Operator Saftey and Driving Training Certificate

Black Hawk College
Moline (413.5 Miles)
Trinidad State Junior College logo

Heavy Equipment Operation, A.A.S.

Trinidad State Junior College
Trinidad (484.7 Miles)
Trinidad State Junior College logo

Heavy Equipment Operation Certificate

Trinidad State Junior College
Trinidad (484.7 Miles)

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