There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a heavy machinery operator. For example, did you know that they make an average of $15.07 an hour? That's $31,351 a year! Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 10% and produce 44,000 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Heavy Machinery Operator Do

There are certain skills that many heavy machinery 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 physical strength, unafraid of heights and mechanical skills.

Learn more about what a Heavy Machinery Operator does

How To Become a Heavy Machinery Operator

If you're interested in becoming a heavy machinery operator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 22.6% of heavy machinery operators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 1.1% of heavy machinery operators have master's degrees. Even though some heavy machinery operators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Heavy Machinery Operator Career Paths

Average Salary for a Heavy Machinery Operator

Heavy Machinery Operators in America make an average salary of $31,351 per year or $15 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $40,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $24,000 per year.
Average Heavy Machinery Operator Salary
$31,351 Yearly
$15.07 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Heavy Machinery Operator

There are several types of heavy machinery 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

Heavy Equipment Operator


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.
  • Average Salary: $39,822
  • 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

States With The Most Heavy Machinery Operator Jobs

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

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Heavy Machinery Operator Jobs By State

RankStateNumber of JobsAverage Salary
2New Jersey877$42,221
7North Carolina194$26,778
11South Carolina151$27,873
12Rhode Island140$32,741
20New York94$42,954
42New Mexico37$28,991
43North Dakota34$35,831
45New Hampshire18$49,610
48West Virginia13$27,161
49South Dakota8$32,853

Heavy Machinery Operator Education

Heavy Machinery Operator Majors

20.6 %

Heavy Machinery Operator Degrees

High School Diploma

44.7 %


22.6 %


17.1 %

Top Skills For a Heavy Machinery 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, 15.3% of heavy machinery operators listed dump truck on their resume, but soft skills such as physical strength and unafraid of heights are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Heavy Machinery Operator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Heavy Machinery Operator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Heavy Machinery 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 Machinery Operator Demographics

Heavy Machinery Operator Gender Distribution


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

  • Among heavy machinery operators, 8.6% of them are women, while 91.4% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among heavy machinery operators is White, which makes up 66.7% of all heavy machinery operators.

  • The most common foreign language among heavy machinery operators is Spanish at 60.0%.

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Best States For a Heavy Machinery Operator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a heavy machinery operator. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Heavy machinery operators make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $56,283. Whereas in New Hampshire and Connecticut, they would average $49,610 and $48,418, respectively. While heavy machinery operators would only make an average of $46,233 in Massachusetts, 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. Alaska

Total Heavy Machinery Operator Jobs: 114
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Massachusetts

Total Heavy Machinery Operator Jobs: 1,225
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. New Jersey

Total Heavy Machinery Operator Jobs: 877
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Heavy Machinery Operators

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Top Heavy Machinery Operator Employers

Most Common Employers For Heavy Machinery Operator

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
1General Mills$40,321$19.392
2Nailor Industries$37,656$18.102
3Tyson Foods$36,923$17.752
6International Paper$35,649$17.143
8The Coca-Cola Company$34,902$16.785
9Waste Management$34,126$16.413