Exact duties can depend on a heavy equipment operator’s specialization. Some common responsibilities include:
- Operate heavy equipment in compliance with the company’s operating safety policies and procedures.
- Provide recommendations for maintaining and improving environmental performance.
- Load and unload equipment from vehicles and trailers.
- Ensure company equipment, material, and the work site are maintained, kept clean, and stored in a safe manner. Collect and dispose of scrap, excess materials, and refuse.
- Observe distribution of paving material to adjust machine settings or material flow, and indicate low spots for workers to add material.
- Complete required paperwork, reporting, and other documentation.
Education, Training & Certification
You can prepare to work in this occupation by first learning to operate light equipment under an experienced operator’s guidance. There are few, if any, education requirements.
- Apprenticeships:This option includes three to four years of a combination of technical instruction and on-the-job or field training. You’ll learn how to operate and maintain equipment during on-the-job training. Instructors will teach you about safety practices and first aid in the classroom, as well as operating procedures.
- Licensure: The municipality in which you work might require that you have a license to operate equipment or transport it to job sites. Some states require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to haul machinery. Pile-driver operators need a crane license in some cities and states.
- Many locations and employers also require that you be able to pass a drug test.
Skills & Competencies
In addition to formal training and a license, having certain other skills can help you succeed in this occupation.
- Hand and foot coordination:You must coordinate movements of your hands and feet in order to guide very large machinery in tight places.
- Operation Monitoring:You’ll have to read gauges, dials, and other indicators, and adjust them as necessary.
- Interpersonal skills and teamwork:You must be able to coordinate your actions with those of other workers on busy construction sites.
- Troubleshooting:Anyone operating heavy equipment should be able to detect and fix operating problems.
- Critical thinking: Your job will require that you identify the strengths and weaknesses of solutions to problems in order to choose the one that is most likely to be successful and cost-effective.