What It Takes To Become A Heavy Equipment Operator

Do you dream of becoming a heavy equipment operator? It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female as this job is not gender biased and an operator’s job is not limited to handling heavy tipping truck only. If you have the ability to operate heavy and large equipment, can work in a team, have exceptional communication skills, and can accept suggestions and feedbacks then a flourishing career as a heavy equipment operator is waiting ahead for you.

Some of the machines commonly operated by heavy equipment operators are bulldozers, excavators, power shovels, scrapers, backhoes, graders, loaders, heavy duty tippers, vibratory road rollers, drilling machines, cranes, forklifts, asphalt pavers, pipe layers, and many more. These operators are required to operate, maintain, and adjust huge and heavy machineries that are commonly used in construction, mining, logging, fishing, pipeline, road building, forestry, commercial, and institutional industries.  Some operators start with their own businesses, whilst others with experience obtain jobs as safety officers or supervisors.

Aside from the qualities mentioned above, a heavy equipment operator must be a safety-conscious and a responsible individual with physical strength and stamina, good hearing and vision, the ability to work independently, aptitude for computer and mechanic skills, manual and finger dexterity with eye-hand and foot coordination, good reflex skills, and must be self-disciplined. He must be at least 18 years old and must have a commercial driver’s license, a certification for specific equipment, and preferably with experience. Drug and alcohol tests may also be required during the screening.

Training and skills are also required before one can operate and maintain these huge and powerful heavy machineries. These skills can be acquired through apprenticeship programs that includes classroom and on the job trainings as well as maintenance and servicing.  At the same time, in this apprenticeship program one has to complete a mandatory number of hours to get a Certification of Qualification, which may extend from one up to five years depending on the specific trade.

After completing all the requirements, passing the certification examination, and receiving the Certificate of Qualification, a person then becomes eligible to work as an operator. This type of work is often seasonal and can involve long hours depending on the type of weather. Normally, heavy equipment operators work for eight hours a day and five days in a week. One may be required to work overtime if the work increases. Safety is always the main priority when training and at the workplace.

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