What Is the Salary for a Heavy Equipment Construction Operator?
Do you have the solid judgment and coordination needed to drive and manage a large vehicle? As a heavy equipment operator, you operate, use and troubleshoot large, engine-powered equipment machinery. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What's a Heavy Equipment Construction Operator?
When you work as a heavy equipment construction operator, you use heavy equipment machinery such as drills, tractors, bulldozers and excavators to prepare the ground, break up the surface, and move and transport heavy materials. This can include plowing snow, compacting trash, drilling asphalt, harvesting, and filling loaders and tractors. You can also work operating fruit pickers or moving ground on excavation sites. Some government positions may also require you to perform mechanic, plumbing and small carpentry work.
What Skills Do I Need?
Employers look for qualified heavy equipment operators with a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). To operate heavy construction equipment, you must have a class B license, good driving record and high school diploma. Some experience in construction can be beneficial, but many employers will train qualified workers.
Since you work under strict project deadlines, anytime inclement weather hinders a typical work schedule, you must have a strong work ethic and the flexibility to work overtime and holidays.
How Do I Prepare for a Commercial Drivers Class B License Test?
Before you apply for the license, you need to undergo a health examination and provide the Department of Transportation (DOT) with a medical certificate. Depending on the state you live in, you must be at least 18 or 21 years of age and have a clean driving record to apply. Once you have turned in your finished application and medical examination records, you can apply for a 2-year CDL driving permit and begin your on the road practice. You have until your CDL permit expires to take the driving test. To pass the written examination, you need to study the commercial driver's manual, which is available at your state's DMV office or website.
The test takes approximately an hour to complete and is comprised of a written test and three road skills components. During the on the road component, your examiner will ask you to identify various parts of the equipment and it's functions, as well as perform numerous equipment operations before you move on to the final driving component.
How Do I Get Equipment Training?
It's generally accepted that formal training provides you with a more comprehensive set of skills. Training is available in paid 3-year apprenticeship programs administered by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). While employers will offer their employees hands-on training, candidates who have gone through the apprentice program learn to operate a wider selection of machinery and typically have better employment options.
How Much Will I Make?
In May 2009, median hourly wages of construction equipment operators were $19.12, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the middle 50% earned $15.01-$25.81 an hour that same year, while the lowest 10% earned less than $12.60 an hour.
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