How to Become a Construction Equipment Operator

How to Become a Construction Equipment OperatorEven as the economy is improving, people are still looking for work in a position that they can comfortably grow with for the future. A Construction Equipment Operator is one such career choice as it is considered one of the fastest growing jobs in this decade and will set these skilled operators up for other great jobs provided they learn to operate multiple types of equipment.

What Construction Equipment Operators Do

High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Put simply, Construction Equipment Operators operate, drive or control heavy machinery found on construction sites used to construct roads and buildings. Typical duties for this position are as follows:

  • Check equipment to be sure it is functioning properly
  • Perform equipment repairs and maintenance
  • Tell supervisors about any equipment malfunctions
  • Activate equipment for use
  • Use equipment safely
  • Understand hand and audio signals for safety around other crew members
  • Follow all safety rules and make sure others do also

Construction equipment operators have many types of machines on which they can be trained for the job sites. These machines are heavy lifters and are used to clear and grade land or move construction materials at the various locations.

Types of Equipment Operators

  • Operating Engineer – They operate excavation and loading machines with scoops, shovels and buckets as well as driving industrial trucks or tractors equipped with forks for lifting materials.
  • Paving and Surfacing – These machines spread and level asphalt or smooth concrete for roads with options for further specialization.
  • Asphalt Spreader – The responsibility of the asphalt spreader is to regulate the asphalt temperature and make sure the machines distribute the material evenly.
  • Concrete Paving – These machine operators control the levers for manipulating the wet concrete. They are responsible for identifing spots that need more concrete.
  • Tamping – As it sounds, tamping is compacting the earth at construction sites. Some of the machines used require hammers to break up old pavement.
  • Piledriver – These machines are mounted on skids or cranes and are used to hammer piles (long beams of wood or steel) into the ground to support bridges and piers.

Work Environment

If you enjoy getting dirty, greasy, muddy, and dusty this job is for you! In all seriousness, though, construction equipment operators have a much higher risk of being injured on the job than other occupations. Safety procedures are in place to prevent severe accidents, but they do sometimes occur. One other aspect of this job is that the repetitive nature of bulldozers and piledrivers (among other machines) can cause stress injuries from the noise and constant shaking.

The following are traits one must possess:

  • Good coordination with hands, feet and eyes – Steady hands aren’t necessary for only surgeons. Body control allows the operators to handle the heavy machines with precision.
  • Skilled mechanic – Machines need to be maintained in order to ensure operator’s safety.
  • Not afraid of heights – Sometimes the work site is near the clouds.

How to Become a Construction Equipment Operator

The minimum education requirements for this job is a high school diploma, but certain training is necessary. Many workers learn how to use the equipment while on the job, but one can also learn through a trade school or three to four year apprenticeship.

Having in interest in English, Math and auto mechanics or shop class will certainly help you in your pursuit of this profession. Since some of the required machines use electronics, some measure of technological understand is required as well as some physical attributes.

One potential requirement for being a construction equipment operator is that of a commercial driver’s license. For more job information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor.

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