A heavy equipment operator is one that works with heavy machinery on sites such as buildings and roads. Do not think for a second that operating one is a walk in the park. Without proper training, you can not only injure yourself but the people around you as well. Not to mention the damage that you may causing the property as well. If you think that being a heavy equipment operator suits your career needs, these are the steps that you need to follow to become one.
- Education. You should at least be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Vocational classes and technical schools offer basic machinery and heavy equipment classes in which you could also take. These classes also teach how you could operate heavy machinery such as bulldozers, backhoes and excavators. You will also be taught how to interpret plans and blueprints.
- Get on the job training. While you are studying, you will be placed under the apprenticeship of a foreman or crew leader. This will teach you technical aspects of operating heavy machinery and construction processes. Don’t worry, most students get compensation while doing this. Most apprenticeship programs last from at least a year to three years at the most, depending on your progress and level of know-how.
- The test. If you have completed the courses and the necessary apprentice program, you will then have to take the test to acquire the Class A Commercial driver’s license of your state. Review the study materials thoroughly and completely. Practice driving for as long as you can before the test. During the skill aspect of the exam, you will have to drive heavy machinery like those used in construction sites and pass. After completion, you are now ready for the next step.
- Application. The next step would be for you to apply for a job in construction. Look around your area if there is an ongoing construction or rehabilitation project. As preparation, bring the necessary documents with you such as your GED, your vocational diploma and your resume. Even with all the training and exams you have passed, you will still have to undergo a basic safety seminar once you have been employed. This is all part of procedure to prevent liabilities in the workplace.
- Salary. A heavy equipment operator that has been working for 1 to 4 years will generally make a figure of $25,000 to $40,000 annually. If you are just starting out, that amount may be significantly less. The outlook, however, looks good. If you plan to stay in the same career for a long time, an experienced operator can earn up to $50,000 per year.
The career opportunity in this type of industry is growing. With all the
employees reaching retirement age, new workers are constantly needed.
After you get your license, you need to find the right employer that
matches your career goals. You just need to be prepared to work long
hours and get dirt under your fingernails. Good luck!