Not sure where to start? You’re not alone. One of the most frequently asked questions is “What do heavy equipment operators do?” Picture yourself moving tons of dirt, preparing an area for a road or new construction, or lifting solid steel beams 20 stories. The variety this job offers is one reason heavy equipment operators enjoy their job.
Common tasks construction equipment operators perform are:
- Move construction materials, earth, other heavy materials around construction sites and mines
- Clear and grade land to prepare it for roads, buildings, and bridges.
- Dig trenches to lay or repair sewer and other utilities, and hoist heavy construction materials.
- Constructing oil rigs
- Spread asphalt and concrete on roads and other structures.
Not only are operators required to operate the machines they are also required to know how how to inspect and maintain the machines if they break or fail. Another requirement is to have an understanding of GPS to follow direct coordinates when moving machines or materials.
Types of heavy equipment operator jobs
There are three main categories a heavy equipment operator can fall into which are: heavy equipment operator, paving and surfacing equipment operator, and pile driver operators.
Heavy Equipment Operator
Operate loading machines equipped with scoops, shovels, or buckets that dig sand gravel into trucks or conveyers.
Paving and surfacing equipment operators
Spread and level asphalt or spread and smooth concrete for roadways or other structures.
Pile driver operators
Use large machines mounted on skids, barges, or cranes to hammer piles into the ground. Piles are long, heavy beams of wood or steel driven into the ground to support retaining walls, bridges piers, or building foundations.
The work environment is outdoors in all types of climate. In areas with a harsh winter, heavy equipment operators will have months off from work unless they are able to find work as a snowplow operator. The work is dangerous due to working with large and heavy loads. It is also common for operators to work late at night to work around deadlines and busy times of transportation.