Heavy Equipment Operator Job Description

Heavy equipment refers to the set of machines or vehicles which is used for the purpose of construction, engineering or digging earth. Because of its big size, heavy weight and critical operating methods, handling and operating such equipment require specialized skills. Trucks, bulldozers, cranes, snow blowers, excavators, compactors, etc., are such equipment to name a few. Heavy equipment operator responsibilities are carried out by a skilled person who does this job with safety and precision. He/she also has the responsibility of cleaning, maintaining and servicing the equipment periodically to increase its life. Heavy equipment operators may work for construction companies, engineering companies, mining, or heavy utility organizations.

Operating and maintaining all heavy equipment requires a lot of experience, training and knowledge of machines and its parts. Such an operator must possess mechanical skills to perform his/her job in a strenuous and dangerous work environment. To become a heavy equipment operator, one must have these skills and should be completely trained to perform the job duties. This article will further state the list of requirements and responsibilities of a heavy equipment operator.

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Duties and Responsibilities of a Heavy Equipment Operator

Knowledge Requirement

A heavy equipment operator must possess knowledge to perform his/her job satisfactorily. The essential criteria must include the knowledge of:

Skills and Abilities

Training and Educational Qualification

A heavy equipment operator should possess a high school diploma as the minimum educational criteria. Degrees or courses from vocational schools in construction equipment operation and maintenance add an extra edge.

This job entails a rigorous on-the-job training. Employers arrange for training classes or apprenticeships. This helps them to sharpen their skills and attain the essential knowledge of equipment, operation and specific technologies. Apprenticeship programs are also provided and sponsored by unions or associations. Some of the apprenticeship schools are ATS, Association of Equipment Manufacture, and National Association of Heavy Equipment Training School.

Heavy equipment operators must have a driver's license to work on the equipment. A few states in the US have special license offered to these professionals for specific equipment like loaders, crane and bulldozers.

Salary Details

A heavy equipment operator may earn on an hourly , or at a fixed monthly amount. The compensation for heavy equipment operators increases with the number of years of work experience. An experienced employee gets higher salary than an entry level employee. The average salary of such a professional ranges between $35,000 to $55,000 per year.

This includes the amount of bonus and profit sharing ratio. An entry level employee will be paid somewhere between $24000 to $40000 per year, while an experienced employee receives a minimum salary of $35000 and above per year.

The salary depends on the location of the employer and the type of work the operator is involved in.

Working Condition

Heavy equipment operators work irregular or odd hours in outdoor work sites. The work hours depend on the weather condition. In a good weather, an operator may work for over 15 hours a day. The work schedule also includes overnight and weekend hours.

They are also exposed to a work environment which comprises heat, cold, dust, rain, pollution and toxic atmosphere. Thus, they need to protect themselves and take necessary precautions.

The most important criteria for a heavy equipment operator is to have a strong physical ability and strength to carry out the daily strenuous activities.

Career Prospect

The US government is constantly trying to improve and develop the infrastructure of the country. This certainly is giving rise to the demand of more people to perform the heavy equipment operation job. Thus, plentiful job vacancies are attracting potential candidates to apply for the same. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the employment opportunities in this field will witness a growth of 16% by the end of 2018.

It can be understood that heavy equipment operator responsibilities are not easy to carry out. It needs an equivalent combination of skills, experience, training and the ability to use those skills in an effective manner.

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