A heavy equipment operator is just what it sounds like—it’s someone who operates heavy equipment and typically involves driving the large vehicles you see on construction sites, such as backhoe-loaders, bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks. These trained professionals are operating dangerous, heavy-duty construction equipment which require a unique skill set and education in order to be qualified to safely and efficiently operate them.
As a heavy equipment operator, your job will most likely include operating machinery and equipment like bulldozers and backhoes in order to move, place equipment or lift other heavy materials. You will also be expected to have fairly intimate knowledge of the equipment you are handling.
Before you think about being a Heavy Equipment Operator, you should first make sure you have gotten yourself trained and certified. There are some places where training and certification are necessary before anyone will hire you, and others where simply learning and apprenticing with experienced people while on the job is enough. You must also constantly update your knowledge of new techniques, and new equipment to stay current and remain an asset to your team.
There are different levels of education within the heavy equipment operating field, with each one designed to set you up for even greater success. Every job will require a different kind of education, so if there’s a specific company you hope to work for, look into their requirements before committing to a learning plan.
If you’re still taking high school courses and have an interest in heavy equipment operating, you can start setting yourself up for success right now. If your school offers any mechanical, welding, or automotive classes, taking these will give you the fundamental skills necessary to make you a successful heavy equipment operator.
Once you’ve got your basic education down, it’s time to start specializing in heavy equipment operating know-how.
The only way to really get in-person training is by working for a specific construction company for a long time and working your way up for several years. And even then, you’re still going to have limited opportunities compared to those who have formal equipment training.
Your certifications are what will give you the credentials to work with certain equipment. Many of these certifications are employer required, so you won’t be able to operate machinery without these. Most heavy machinery will have its own certification, so you’ll have to earn a one for every vehicle you want to operate.
The last step to beginning your new life as a heavy equipment operator is to actually get a job! This is the most critical step after all, and it’s what everything else has been leading up to. You can improve your chances of finding work by going through with the proper training and certifications, but in the end, it’s going to be up to you to land that first gig.
Heavy equipment operating is one of the most rewarding career paths out there. The industry is booming, so there are plenty of heavy equipment operator jobs available to dedicated, hard-working individuals.