Career and Job Search Guide

Construction and Heavy Equipment Operator

Construction equipment operators are responsible for operating heavy equipment designed to move heavy objects, large quantities of dirt, and grade land in preparation for construction projects. Heavy equipment is also utilized to dig trenches for water and sewer lines. Many operate equipment designed to maintain and construct oil rigs located off the coast of an ocean or sea. Heavy equipment is also used by operators to spread asphalt on highways.

Construction equipment operators are also responsible for maintaining equipment and preparing it for use. Operating construction equipment is now more complicated than in the past since modern machines utilize sophisticated technology such as GPS systems during grading operations.

Equipment operators run surfacing, asphalt paving, concrete paving, and tamping equipment. Operators specializing in asphalt paving operate machines designed to regulate the amount of asphalt laid on a road, so they need to take extra precaution to pave road evenly and ensure asphalt is constantly flowing. Concrete paving machine operators are responsible for operating equipment designed to level concrete, and these workers must pay special attention to identify areas where additional concrete is required. Tamping equipment specialists operate heavy equipment designed to tamp or compact dirt in preparation for construction projects. Tampering machine specialists also operate machines that drive posts into the ground and break up dirt or pavement. Piledriver machine specialists operate heavy equipment attached to cranes, barges, or skids designed to drive piles which are long pieces of wood or steel into the earth's surface to provide support for new buildings or structures. Piledriver machine operators can also be found at oil rigs located in an ocean or sea coast.

There are numerous other operating engineers and construction equipment specialists. Many operate machines equipped with large scooping shovels designed to excavate dirt. Many specialize in operating road graders or machines designed to build trenches. Many construction workers are trained to drive forklifts and other equipment designed to move heavy equipment. Many construction workers use pumps, compressors, and other power tools at construction sites. Operating engineers are qualified to operate various pieces of construction machinery.

Work environment. Construction equipment operators spend time outside in all types of weather, but many are not required to work during harsh winter conditions. Construction equipment is noisy and many machines cause workers to be shaken during operation. Equipment operators must obey all safety rules when operating equipment since serious injury or death can occur if not followed. They must be extra careful when working in extremely hot or cold weather. Many equipment operators work in secluded, remote regions while building new roads or dams.

Many heavy equipment operators have erratic hours since many companies conduct their operations 24 hours a day.