Construction equipment operator essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $41,870
- 2012, number of jobs: 335,160
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 23 percent
- Entry-level education requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
Construction equipment operators; what they do:
At some point, most kids idolized the men and women behind the controls of heavy duty contraction machines; as adults they can make their dream come true with a construction equipment operator career. Construction equipment operators drive and operate the large machinery used in the construction of roads, bridges, building, damns, airport runways, and other structures.
Construction equipment operators monitor equipment to ensure it runs properly and remains clean and well taken care of. Any issues with machines are reported to supervisors.
A construction equipment operator career includes working with other crew members, often communicating with hand or audio signals, as they may be far apart or the machines may be too loud to hear over. Activating the power equipment many includes using levers, pedals, and valves.
Operating engineer careers include controlling excavation and loading machines which scoop, shovel, and dig, such as a bulldozer, tractor, trench excavator, or road grader.
A paving and surfacing equipment operator career involves controlling machines which spread and level asphalt and concrete for roads. These equipment operators may also specialize, such as asphalt spreader operators, concrete paving machine operators, or tamping equipment operators.
A piledriver operator career includes using large machines to hammer piles into the ground. The piles generally support retaining walls, bridges, piers, or building foundations.
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Construction equipment operators job titles:
- Heavy Equipment Operator
- Heavy Construction Equipment Operator
- Engineering Equipment Operator
- Loader Operator
- Equipment Operator
- Operating Engineer
- Machine Operator
Construction Equipment Operators Education, Certification and License Requirements
Many construction equipment operators begin their career with on-the-job training, shadowing a more experienced worker and gradually entrusted with larger equipment. Other construction equipment operators go through a three to four year apprenticeship, usually sponsored by a union or contractor association. Some private vocational schools offer programs for construction equipment operators.
Construction equipment operator programs cover subjects such as:
- Map reading
- Operating procedures of special equipment
- How to use Global Positioning System units (GPS)
- Safety practices
- First aid
Construction equipment operators must obtain a commercial driver’s license in order to move the large equipment to different jobsites. Rules surrounding commercial driver’s licenses vary by state.
Piledriver operators are sometimes required to obtain crane operator certification.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
Construction equipment operators may advance in their career to a teaching position in a training facility or opt to start up their own contracting business.
Construction Equipment Operator Job Outlook
Forecast: 23 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for construction equipment operators, which is above average for all occupations.
Roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, the electric power grid, and other infrastructure sometimes need improvement, repair, and maintenance due to use and population growth, which increases the demand for construction equipment operators. A limited federal government budget may hinder the demand for construction equipment operators.
Construction Equipment Operator Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $41,870
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $56,650
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $32,890
- State and local government agencies
- Highway, street, and bridge construction
- Utility system construction
- Other specialty trade contractors