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Become An Equipment Operator/Labour

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Working As An Equipment Operator/Labour

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Repetitive

  • $28,330

    Average Salary

What Does An Equipment Operator/Labour Do

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Duties

Construction laborers and helpers typically do the following:

  • Clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards
  • Load or unload building materials to be used in construction
  • Build or take apart bracing, scaffolding, and temporary structures
  • Dig trenches, backfill holes, or compact earth to prepare for construction
  • Operate or tend equipment and machines used in construction
  • Follow construction plans and instructions from supervisors or more experienced workers
  • Assist craftworkers with their duties

Construction laborers and helpers work on almost all construction sites, performing a wide range of tasks varying in complexity from very easy to extremely difficult and hazardous. Although many of the tasks they perform require some training and experience, most tasks can be learned quickly. 

Construction laborers, are also referred to as construction craft laborers, perform a wide variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Many laborers spend their time preparing and cleaning up construction sites, using tools such as shovels and brooms. Other workers, for example, those on road crews, may specialize and learn to control traffic patterns and operate pavement breakers, jackhammers, earth tampers, or surveying equipment.

With special training, laborers may help transport and use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They may learn to use lasers to place pipes and to use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. They may become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Helpers assist construction craftworkers, such as electricians and carpenters, with a variety of tasks. They may carry tools and materials or help set up equipment. For example, many helpers work with cement masons to move and set the forms that determine the shape of poured concrete. Many other helpers assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste, as well as helping with any other needs of craftworkers.

Many construction trades have helpers who assist craftworkers. The following trades have associated helpers:

  • Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, and tile and marble setters
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons
  • Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
  • Roofers

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How To Become An Equipment Operator/Labour

Construction laborers and helpers learn their trade through on-the-job training (OJT). The length of training depends on the employer and the specialization. Formal education is not typically required.

Education

Although formal education is not typically required, high school classes in mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, and other vocational subjects can be helpful.

To receive further education, some workers attend a trade school or community college.

Training

Construction laborers and helpers learn through OJT after being hired by a construction contractor. Workers typically gain experience by performing tasks under the guidance of experienced workers.

Although the majority of construction laborers and helpers learn by assisting experienced workers, some construction laborers opt for apprenticeship programs. Programs generally include 2 to 4 years of technical instruction and OJT. The Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) requires a minimum of 4,000 hours of OJT, accompanied by 300 hours of related instruction in such areas as signaling, blueprint reading, using proper tools and equipment, and following health and safety procedures. The remainder of the curriculum consists of specialized training in one of these eight areas:

  • Building construction
  • Demolition and deconstruction
  • Environmental remediation
  • Road and utility construction
  • Tunneling
  • Masonry
  • Landscaping
  • Pipeline construction

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs, which usually have only a basic age qualification—age 18 or older—for entrance. Apprentices must obtain a high school diploma or equivalent before completing their apprenticeship. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Laborers who remove hazardous materials (hazmat) must meet the federal and state requirements for hazardous materials removal workers.

Depending on the work they do, laborers may need specific certifications, which may be attained through LIUNA. Rigging and scaffold building are commonly attained certifications. Certification can help workers prove that they have the knowledge to perform more complex tasks.

Advancement

Through experience and training, construction laborers and helpers can advance into positions that involve more complex tasks. For example, laborers may earn certifications in welding, erecting scaffolding, or finishing concrete, and then spend more time performing those activities. Similarly, helpers sometimes move into construction craft occupations after gaining experience in the field. For example, experience as an electrician’s helper may lead to becoming an apprentice electrician.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Construction laborers and helpers may need to be able to distinguish colors to do their job. For example, an electrician’s helper must be able to distinguish different colors of wire to help the lead electrician.

Math skills. Construction laborers and some helpers need to perform basic math calculations while measuring on jobsites or assisting a surveying crew.

Mechanical skills. Construction laborers are frequently required to operate and maintain equipment, such as jackhammers.

Physical stamina. Construction laborers and helpers must have the endurance to perform strenuous tasks throughout the day. Highway laborers, for example, spend hours on their feet—often in hot temperatures—with few breaks.

Physical strength. Construction laborers and helpers must often lift heavy materials or equipment. For example, cement mason helpers must move cinder blocks, which typically weigh more than 40 pounds each.

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Equipment Operator/Labour Demographics

Gender

Male

92.9%

Female

5.9%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

82.9%

Hispanic or Latino

9.6%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

1.2%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.7%

Portuguese

3.7%

Choctaw

3.7%

German

3.7%

French

3.7%

Carrier

3.7%

Tagalog

3.7%

Dutch

3.7%

Dakota

3.7%

Thai

3.7%
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Equipment Operator/Labour Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

9.0%

Northwest Lineman College

7.9%

University of Montana

6.7%

Ferris State University

5.6%

Ashford University

5.6%

The Academy

5.6%

Hocking College

5.6%

Universal Technical Institute

5.6%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

4.5%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

4.5%

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College

4.5%

Bevill State Community College

4.5%

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

4.5%

University of Wyoming

4.5%

Black Hills State University

4.5%

Marshall University

3.4%

Eastern Kentucky University

3.4%

Treasure Valley Community College

3.4%

United Technical Center

3.4%

Jefferson Community College

3.4%
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Majors

Business

14.5%

General Studies

10.8%

Heavy/Industrial Equipment Maintenance Technologies

10.8%

Automotive Technology

9.2%

Precision Metal Working

8.3%

Criminal Justice

6.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.8%

Construction Management

3.7%

Education

3.4%

Accounting

3.2%

Drafting And Design

3.0%

Electrical Engineering

3.0%

Mechanical Engineering

3.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.8%

Management

2.5%

Aviation

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.1%

Graphic Communications

2.1%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.1%

Computer Science

1.9%
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Degrees

Other

52.0%

Bachelors

16.6%

Associate

13.8%

Certificate

13.2%

Diploma

2.6%

Masters

0.9%

License

0.8%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Top Skills for An Equipment Operator/Labour

BackhoeDozerDumpTruckSafetyRegulationsMiniExcavatorSewerLinesGeneralLaborBobcatJobSiteWaterTruckHandToolsTrackHoeSkidSteersHaulTruckSkidLoaderHeavyConstructionEquipmentHeavyMachineryConstructionSitesOshaCDL

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Top Equipment Operator/Labour Skills

  1. Backhoe
  2. Dozer
  3. Dump Truck
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Operate heavy equipment, backhoe, wheel loaders, Bob Cat.
  • Operated equipment such as 325 & 345 Excavators, D8 Dozer, and 730 Articulated Dump Truck.
  • Operated and maintained a 5 ton dump truck, forklift and various other heavy equipment.
  • Followed established job site safety regulations and maintained a safe and clean work area.
  • Operated small Deere dozed building ponds and access roads, skid steer, mini excavators and small/large farm tractors.

Top Equipment Operator/Labour Employers

Equipment Operator/Labour Videos

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