Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

March 29, 2008

Contrary to the common myth, the job of a heavy equipment operator is not confined to just operating the bulldozer. Nor is it a gender specific vocation since both men and women are employed in this field.

If you can operate large machinery, are willing to work as a team, possess satisfactory communication skills and are open to suggestions for improvement, you can definitely be successful as a Heavy Equipment Operator.

Who is a Heavy Equipment Operator

Neither a designated trade nor designated profession, a heavy equipment operator maintains, repairs and adjusts the huge not so very delicate machines used in construction work. They also find employment at travel refuse collection routes or freight jobs.

Educational Qualifications and Eligibility Criteria

There are very few schools in the US that offer courses in heavy equipment training. Students are taught the basics of analytical and diagnostic techniques along with an in depth knowledge of electronics. Being a field job, the training imparted for the job is mostly done in practical surroundings.

The sub categories of the job position, such as a mechanic require a certification of validation, which needs to be renewed every 5 years.

Other than the educational factors, the first and foremost eligibility criterion is the possession of a Commercial Drivers License. Experience in driving trucks and smaller construction machinery is considered an added advantage. An ability to work with different people, to be open to the idea of additional training and responsibility and judgment of distance are some of the other criteria for hiring a heavy equipment operator.

A number of apprentice jobs are available for fresh graduates or trainees who have completed formal courses in heavy equipment operations. Most organizations pay a very nominal salary at the entry level to these apprentices.

Nature of the Job

The job of a heavy equipment operator is to operate machines such as the off highway trucks, graders, articulated trucks and loaders, scrapers, pavers, backhoes and shovels. As a junior operator, one could start out with operating small equipment and later move on to the heavier ones. The equipments under the former category include small rubber tire loaders and monitoring equipments.

With experience and training, one could eventually be promoted to senior positions such as a superintendent, job foreman, safety officer or trainer. If you are an independent minded person, you could also go ahead and set up a business of your own, after acquiring a few years of experience.

As this is a job that is required in almost every heavy manufacturing facility, one could easily relocate to any town or city without any worries about finding a decent job as a heavy equipment operator.