Ask This When Becoming a Heavy Equipment Operator

Have you ever wondered how those towering skyscrapers and behemoth stadiums get built? It’s all thanks to heavy construction equipment like backhoes, bulldozers, and cranes. But as advanced as the human race is, we are yet to develop fully automated construction equipment, hence the need for human intervention. This is where heavy equipment operators come into the picture.


  1. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    What does the career entail?

    Heavy equipment operators are mostly stationed in construction sites, but can also be hired to operate machinery for large scale businesses like warehouses. Operators prepare an area for construction or maintenance using backhoes to excavate land and cranes to transport heavy materials. Other machines used by operators are dredges, drills, and compressors. To be versed in using these mechanical goliaths require specialized training.

  2. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    What education program should you consider?

    If you plan on becoming a heavy equipment operator, you will need to go through an accredited course and apprenticeship program. Regardless of where you are in the U.S., there will be several good choices for vocational schools and community colleges that offer training in heavy equipment operation. Related coursework you can pursue either as an alternative or complementary qualification include construction and construction management. However, note that courses offered in heavy equipment operation offer the most hands-on experience.

  3. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    How long do these programs take to complete?

    Heavy equipment operation programs typically last anywhere between 2 months to 6 months. Apprenticeship programs, on the other hand, require you to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on experience and 144 hours of classroom lecture. Other programs take longer to complete due to commercial driving subjects injected into the curriculum. A commercial driving license is required by many employers so the extra time and effort you put into the program pays off in the long run. Depending on your location and the type of equipment you plan on operating, a license or certification may also be required before you can legally work. For example, crane operators in some states require certification from an accepted organization like The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.

  4. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    What prerequisites should you hold?

    A high school diploma is the minimum educational background required for aspiring heavy equipment operators. Good hand-eye-feet coordination is also a must-have skill to operate heavy machinery safely and efficiently. During your health screening, training programs and employers will also pay attention to your vision acuity. Good vision of near and far objects is important to safely control the direction where machines are going. Operating heavy machinery on a day-to-day basis can be extremely stressful both to your mind and body. Ideal candidates for this career direction are those who exhibit sound physical and mental health and can withstand stressful environments.

  5. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    What’s the job market like for heavy equipment operators?

    According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for heavy equipment operators and construction engineers are projected to increase by 19 percent over the 10-year period. Job market conditions for heavy equipment operators, however, tend to jump wildly during certain economic events plus positions are seasonal in several areas. In 2012, the average yearly pay for heavy equipment operators was at $41,000. Individual experience will of course affect this number.

  6. AskThisWhen on September 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    What comes after a heavy equipment operator career?

    For heavy equipment operators, the next step in the career ladder is a supervisor position. After which, you can then be promoted to project manager and then senior manager. Other heavy equipment operators build their own construction business once they have enough capital to do so. This can be a more lucrative career direction but it requires the operator to be versed in different subsets of the operation and not merely the operation of heavy equipment.