How to become a heavy equipment operator

Job description: what does a heavy equipment operator do?

Working as a construction equipment operator always means that large machines are used here. These can be excavators, bulldozers, cranes, concrete, or asphalt mixers. The task usually begins with loading and transporting the machines to the construction site. They may have to be converted for a specific use – an excavator may need a particular shovel to work on the particular subsoil. The job of the construction equipment operator also includes securing the construction site and setting up work scaffolding.

The machines are used for different tasks. They tear down buildings, move construction materials such as sewer pipes, structural steel or earth when digging excavations and canals, etc. or supply the craftsmen on a construction site with materials such as stones and prefabricated components or large systems using cranes and construction hoists. Concrete pumps move concrete to the right place to create floors and ceilings.

The construction crane is a unique workplace for construction equipment operators. The cabin is between 10 and 30 meters above the ground – ahead for heights is, therefore, a prerequisite. In road construction, the subsoil is prepared, built up, and laid out, barriers, and surface drainage. Construction equipment operators also work with smaller machines and hand tools such as concrete mixers, vibrators, and drills.

The job description of the construction equipment operator also includes the maintenance of the machines, for example, to determine the wear of parts, to check the functions and safety devices, to set them correctly, as well as to prevent and refill fuels and hydraulic oils or to lubricate machine elements. If you discover malfunctions or damage that you cannot repair yourself, initiate the necessary remedial measures.

Construction equipment operators must be well acquainted with the necessary safety regulations and protective measures. On the one hand, of course, for your safety when working with heavy machinery, but above all, protect your colleagues on the construction site. The working environment is noisy and usually very confusing, so dangers are easily recognized too late.

Companies that employ construction equipment operators can be found in civil engineering, road construction, and gardening, and landscaping. There is also a need for municipal building yards.

Average salary: how much does a heavy equipment operator make?

Heavy equipment operators in the United States make an average salary of $38,250 per year or $18.50 per hour. The lowest earned less than $27,100, and the highest earned more than $49,450.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Heavy equipment operator responsibilities and requirements

Working as a construction equipment operator requires robust health: you work almost exclusively outdoors, in cold, hot, wet, damp, and drafty conditions. Also, there are often very strenuous physical tasks and exposure to noise, shocks, and vibrations from the machines. The workplace is polluted with dust, sometimes smoke, gases or vapors.

A general technical understanding is essential. Handling heavy machinery also requires skill, constant concentration, good responsiveness, and eye-hand coordination, for example, to steer a component precisely to the desired location and to fit it exactly. The ability to prepare the work based on sketches and drawings or to be able to read corresponding plans is also required. Proven qualifications for specific construction machines may be necessary, such as a crane operator or excavator operator. A car and truck driver’s license is required.

Construction equipment operators must have a high level of safety awareness to avoid accidents and protect significant property. This applies to the machines themselves and possible damage to supply lines, among other things. Companies with a focus on road construction, in particular, therefore often require proof of “Safety during construction work in the area of ​​supply systems.” It can be acquired in a one-day seminar.

You must be willing to work shifts and be absent from your place of residence for more extended periods. When applying for a job, it is advantageous if you have always kept your professional knowledge up-to-date. These can be appropriate advanced training courses offered in many areas of construction or general information on current developments in mechanical engineering and technology.

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