A Heavy Equipment Operator operates heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports, gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings, and other construction sites/structures. The heavy equipment may include the following machinery: excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, loaders, graders, pile-driving hammers, asphalt and concrete spreaders, pavers, rollers, scrapers, dredgers, and power shovels.
Heavy Equipment Operators are employed by Construction Managers, Heavy Equipment Contractors, or by public works departments and pipeline, logging, and cargo-handling companies.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Heavy Equipment Operators are required to complete.
- Conducting pre-operational checks on equipment and ensuring equipment maintenance (e.g. cleaning, lubricating, and refilling equipment).
- Locating underground services, such as pipes and wires, prior to beginning any construction work.
- Installing equipment or attachments on machinery or related structures.
- Operating heavy motorized equipment in a safe and efficient manner, following all relevant legislation, policies, and procedures:
- Excavating, moving, loading, and grading earth, rock, gravel, or other materials, using backhoes, bulldozers, loaders, graders, and other heavy equipment as required;
- drive piling into earth to provide support for buildings, bridges, or other structures, using pile-driving hammers and related equipment;
- deepening waterways or reclaiming earth fill, using heavy dredging equipment;
- laying, spreading, or compacting concrete, asphalt, and other surface materials, using heavy paving and surfacing equipment;
- excavating rock or other materials, using power shovels; and
- moving, loading, and unloading materials.
- Performing maintenance and construction activities when not operating vehicles, such as:
- Installing and repairing guide rails and fences;
- ensuring construction sites are well-maintained (e.g. litter cleaning, grass cutting, and weed trimming); and
- assisting coworkers in various functions (e.g. loading and unloading of materials and pushing other equipment when extra traction/assistance is required).
- Advising the Construction Manager on any requirements for maintenance or repairs, completing written reports as required.
- Inspecting equipment by completing pre-operational checks (e.g. air brakes check), keeping track of equipment’s status, and reporting defects.
- Performing preventative maintenance (e.g. cleaning and greasing), minor repairs, and emergency adjustments on trucks and auxiliary equipment.
- Starting up and shutting down all equipment safely, following start-up and shutdown procedures at all times.
The average Heavy Equipment Operator salary is $52,711 per year or $27 per hour. This is around 1.6 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $37,000 while most experienced workers make up to $74,000. These results are based on 280 salaries extracted from job descriptions.