No construction site would be complete without heavy equipment operators. They drive various large-sized vehicles designed to carry out specific tasks at a construction site. Bulldozers, forklifts, trucks, cranes, backhoes are the playthings of a heavy equipment operator.

These are essential instruments when it comes to building bridges, buildings, or roads, and their handlers are always on-site along with them, maneuvering the equipment to load, remove, and place material such as rocks, debris, and the like.

Heavy equipment operators prepare and maintain their equipment for work and always make sure to adhere to safety measures. They know best what their baby can do and when it is able to function most efficiently. As a consequence, heavy equipment operators are expected to monitor the workflow and make suggestions to boost performance if necessary.

What Does a Heavy Equipment Operator Do

There are certain skills that many heavy equipment operators have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed hand-eye-foot coordination, physical strength and unafraid of heights.

Learn more about what a Heavy Equipment Operator does

How To Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

If you're interested in becoming a heavy equipment operator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 11.8% of heavy equipment operators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 1.0% of heavy equipment operators have master's degrees. Even though some heavy equipment operators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Learn More About How To Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

Heavy Equipment Operator Career Paths

Average Salary for a Heavy Equipment Operator

Heavy Equipment Operators in America make an average salary of $39,822 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $57,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $27,000 per year.
Average Heavy Equipment Operator Salary
$39,822 Yearly
$19.15 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Heavy Equipment Operator

The role of a heavy equipment operator includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general heavy equipment operator responsibilities:

  • Equipment is used to excavate, load, or move dirt, gravel, or other materials. Operator may read
  • Ability to plow snow in a safe
  • Ability to efficiently operate bulldozers, wheel loaders, motor grader, scraper. Compactor experience preferred , but not required. Performs routine inspection

There are several types of heavy equipment operator, including:



As an operator, it's your job to know how specific equipment or machines work. You should know how to install and repair certain machinery as well as knowing how to use tools to help with the manufacturing process.

Operators often spend their time checking in on equipment and making sure it's properly working. Every problem that is detected, you'll often call upon an operators to come and save the day. They're essentially the superhero in an office setting.

In most cases, operators work full-time, normal hours. But when a client needs help, you'll need to be available. which means that sometimes duty calls at night or on the weekends.

  • Average Salary: $37,928
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Equipment Operator


As more baby boomers retire, more equipment operator jobs are opening up. In fact, 25% of the industry will be opened up with the boomers' retirement. That means lots of job openings and plenty of job opportunities for you to take advantage of. If there was ever a right time for you to become an equipment operator, now is that time.

Another bonus of being an equipment operator is that you don't need extra education or experience to get in the drivers seat. In fact, most employers only require you to take a three-week training course before setting you loose on the job. That means in three weeks, you'll be sitting behind the wheel of that heavy-duty equipment. And with today's technology, it's basically as easy as driving a car.

Sounds like an easy enough job, right? But it's not too easy that it's boring. Every day is going to present a new challenge to you. You'll come into work each day not knowing exactly what to expect. And that's because of the variety of heavy equipment that you'll be operating and the different jobs each equipment performs. This is one job that'll make your kids proud.

  • Average Salary: $31,739
  • Degree: High School Diploma

Labour Operator


A labour operator, sometimes called a laborer, operates all kinds of construction equipment on the job site. From backhoes to air compressors, labour operators have all kinds of machinery experience under their belt. Obviously the most important skill for a labour operator is knowing how to operate construction machines safely. However, they don't just sit in the cabin of a backhoe while the rest of the crew does the hands-on work. Labour operators are not afraid to get their hands dirty when it comes to tasks such as prepping an area for excavation or checking the safety of a construction site. Labour operators also need strong communication skills and knowledge of safety standards to work well with their colleagues on the job site.

Formal education is not required to become a labour operator. In fact, fewer than 10% of labour operators have a bachelor's degree. They usually need a high school diploma, CDL (Commercial Driver's License), and some experience in construction to get hired.

Labour operators earn an average salary of $34,549 a year. However, this varies between cities and employers.

  • Average Salary: $34,180
  • Degree: High School Diploma

States With The Most Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active heavy equipment operator jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where heavy equipment operators earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs By State

Heavy Equipment Operator Education

Heavy Equipment Operator Majors

17.7 %

Heavy Equipment Operator Degrees

High School Diploma

54.2 %


16.1 %


11.8 %

Top Skills For a Heavy Equipment Operator

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 9.4% of heavy equipment operators listed loaders on their resume, but soft skills such as hand-eye-foot coordination and physical strength are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Heavy Equipment Operator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Heavy Equipment Operator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Heavy Equipment Operator resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Heavy Equipment Operator diversity

Heavy Equipment Operator Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among heavy equipment operators, 5.2% of them are women, while 94.8% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among heavy equipment operators is White, which makes up 67.4% of all heavy equipment operators.

  • The most common foreign language among heavy equipment operators is Spanish at 76.4%.

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Best States For a Heavy Equipment Operator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a heavy equipment operator. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Washington, California, and New Hampshire. Heavy equipment operators make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $65,211. Whereas in Washington and California, they would average $58,830 and $57,498, respectively. While heavy equipment operators would only make an average of $57,250 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Jersey

Total Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs: 845
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Alaska

Total Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs: 135
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Massachusetts

Total Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs: 1,222
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Heavy Equipment Operators

How Do Heavy Equipment Operators Rate Their Jobs?


5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

2 Stars

1 Star

Heavy Equipment Operator Reviews

Feb 2023

Different challenges to overcome and adapt to get work done


Sitting idle with nothing to do

Dec 2022

The power off the equipment the finish grade off the work and being safe


Broke down equipment

Feb 2020

Its what I know and I am good at it . With that said always be open to constructive criticism so you can continue to grow in this field


Young bucks that come in with no it all temperaments without the experience. They can get you hurt in this line of work. Remember everything can kill you when dealing with heavy equipment

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Top Heavy Equipment Operator Employers

Most Common Employers For Heavy Equipment Operator

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
2Republic Services$50,513$24.29158
4Kinder Morgan$50,016$24.05106
5Alpha Metallurgical Resources$49,693$23.8992
6Martin Marietta$48,505$23.32132
7Ames Construction$48,077$23.1197
8Granite Construction$46,354$22.2976
9Tradesmen International$46,197$22.21205

Heavy Equipment Operator Videos

Becoming a Heavy Equipment Operator FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Become A Heavy Equipment Operator?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a heavy equipment operator. That is the time it takes to learn specific heavy equipment operator skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education.

Do Heavy Equipment Operators Make Good Money?

Yes, heavy equipment operators make good money. A heavy equipment operator on average makes $65,500 a year, which is roughly $10,000 higher than the national wage average. A heavy equipment operator can make anywhere between $54,000 and $75,000, with outliers on either side.

Is An Interaction Designer The Same As A Ux Designer?

No, an interaction designer is not necessarily the same as a UX designer. Although they are often used interchangeably, they generally focus on the overall user experience design process.

Which Heavy Equipment Operators Make The Most Money?

Crane and backhoe heavy equipment operators typically make the most money. The national average salary for all heavy equipment operators is around $35,000 to $40,000 in a year. This equals about $15 to $20 an hour for an hourly wage.

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