Heavy Equipment Operator

Specialize in operating massive construction machinery, like bulldozers.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$26,000 – $71,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Heavy Equipment Operators do?

Did you like Legos, erector sets, and playing in the sandbox when you were a kid? And have you always dreamed of driving the real stuff as an adult? If so, a career as a Heavy Equipment Operator might be right up your alley.

Things need to be built, and they need people who can operate heavy machinery to build them. As a Heavy Equipment Operator, you specialize in handling some of the biggest and most powerful machines humans have ever built: bulldozers, earth movers, pile drivers, and cranes (just to name a few).

When you arrive at a job site, it’s a blank canvas. But instead of using paints and pastels, you use steel and diesel to remake the site according to the job. Every task you undertake requires a mix of hand-eye coordination, driving skills, and mechanical knowledge.

Some days, you’ll be digging a hole. Other days, you’ll be filling it in or laying a foundation. With heavy equipment, the whole world is your sandbox. And the team is counting on you to do your part safely and efficiently.

Heavy Equipment Operators work in a variety of settings, but almost always have regular daily or weekly schedules. Specialty construction, however, like installing the pile drivers for an offshore oil rig, could involve being out in the field for many days or weeks. Either way, when you operate heavy machines, you’re almost always out in the weather. Rain, shine, or anything in between, it’s up to you to get things done.

Should I be a Heavy Equipment Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.

  • Also known as: Equipment Driver, Forest Fire Equipment Operator, Growth-Media Mixer, Mushroom, Heavy Equipment Operating Engineer See More

    How to become a Heavy Equipment Operator

    Heavy Equipment Operators often have a Certificate or higher. Chart?chd=s:95aaaa&chl=no+college+%2852%25%29|certificate+%2848%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,52,52
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