Construction Equipment Operator

Construction equipment operators operate heavy duty machines equipped with scrapers or blades to spread, grade or move earth and rock.

  • Entry-level education

    Apprenticeship or traineeship

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Construction Equipment Operator do?

Construction equipment operators operate heavy duty machines equipped with scrapers or blades to spread, grade or move earth and rock. This role may also be known as a heavy plant operator, mobile plant operator or bulldozer, grader or scraper operators.


Work activities

As a construction equipment operator, you would:

  • load and unload equipment at worksites
  • drive equipment with blades that level or pick up earth for dumping
  • use bulldozers, backhoes, and tractors for moving large amounts of dirt
  • break up rock and similar material by operating hydraulic or pneumatic breakers
  • select, attach and operate the appropriate machine attachments for the job
  • follow directions of supervisors and engineers
  • excavate or make successive passes over the earth to the required depth and/or alignment.

Key skills and interests

To become a construction equipment operator, you would need:

  • to enjoy practical and manual activities
  • the ability to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • good eyesight and good hand-eye coordination
  • the ability to follow instructions closely and precisely
  • knowledge of, and adherence to, occupational health and safety requirements.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

You would usually work around 40 hours a week, but your working hours may vary depending on construction or work deadlines.


Your work would be outdoors, in all types of weather conditions. Construction work is often noisy and dirty, and you might have to work at heights, for example when operating a tower crane or a larger excavator.

You would travel between jobs, and some contracts may involve periods of time away from home.


How to become an Construction Equipment Operator?

Entry Level Education

You can work as a construction equipment operator without formal qualifications. You would get some training on the job.

You can also become a construction equipment operator through a traineeship or apprenticeship, usually with a large construction or mining company. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.

You may be required to hold a licence to Perform High Risk Work. To gain this licence, you would need to register with an approved Registered Training Organisation, work under the supervision of a licensed operator, and keep an approved logbook to record competencies achieved during training. Assessment by an independent assessor will then be required. You must be 18 years of age to obtain this licence. However, training may commence at a younger age.

All construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (CIC). Authorised training is conducted by Registered Training Organisations.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of construction equipment operators is projected to grow slightly faster than the average for all occupations.

Increased spending on infrastructure to improve roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, is expected to result in numerous jobs. In addition, population growth increases the need for construction projects such as new roads and sewer lines, which are also expected to generate some jobs. However, employment growth in the mining industry may be tempered by the current industry downturn.


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