By Caterpillar | Updated: March 28, 2022
Many industries need heavy equipment operators. In fact, you might be surprised by the sheer range of fields:
Some heavy equipment is unique to one industry, but many rely on the same machines to get the job done. Let's dive into the types of heavy equipment operators work with most often:
With so many equipment types, you'll have the chance to become an expert in different types of machines over time. Keep in mind that the positions you apply for might be machine-specific or more general. Having experience with different types will help you qualify for more positions and make you more desirable to employers.
A heavy equipment operator is typically seen as a promising career. In fact, many construction workers report high job satisfaction for several reasons:
Want to learn more about what makes a great heavy equipment operator? Check out the recent Cat® Global Operator Challenge that searched the world for the most talented heavy equipment operators in action today.
Your pay will depend on factors like your experience, education level and the company you work for. The median annual salary for heavy equipment operators was $49,100 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is 17% higher than the national average for all occupations. The highest 10% of earners (typically those with the most experience and skill) make more than $86,300.
There are several ways to become an equipment operator:
Many states require operators to be licensed or certified. And even if your state doesn't, this training can give you a leg up. For those just starting out, certification courses can provide valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that employers are looking for.
You can find programs that offer National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) standards. Examples of these programs are the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools (NAHETS) or the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
Once employed by a construction, mining or quarry company, you may have an opportunity to take Cat operator training courses. These courses are designed to help you operate Cat machines safely and efficiently on the job.
We recently interviewed Turner Mining Group to find out what today's employers are looking for. Their advice on how to become an equipment operator includes the top skills outside of technical operation that companies are looking for. They also explain the questions to ask in your interview to help you stand out. Read more here.
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