Moving mountains may sound impossible, but material moving machine operators do it all the time, one load of earth at a time. They use machinery to move heavy materials around building sites, warehouses, ships and mines. Material moving machine operators use a variety of equipment in different settings. Most of these operators drive forklifts moving materials around warehouses, storage yards, or worksites. They may operate conveyor belts to pick up merchandise, and move it to and from large warehouses, building sites and vehicles. Many operators work for underground and surface mining companies digging mines to extract coal, ore and other materials. They load material onto shuttles or conveyors running from a mine to the surface. Some operate platforms and cages that raise workers and materials up to elevated construction sites or lower them down into mines and quarries. In construction, these machine operators clear space for buildings with excavators, and operate cranes to load and unload building materials. Cranes are also used at ports to move cargo, and at iron and steel mills. Dredge operators shift large quantities of sand and gravel from the bottom of rivers, lakes and other waterways so that ships and boats can move freely. Safe equipment operation is a top priority in this field; injury and illness rates are higher than most occupations. Workers wear gloves, hardhats, or respirators as needed. Most material moving machine operators work full time— sometimes with overnight shifts— and overtime is common. Although there are typically no formal education requirements, a high school education may be preferred for some positions, and is often required for crane operators, excavating machine operators, and dredge operators. Some states and cities require licensure for crane operators.
What they do:
Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines, or products in many directions.
On the job, you would:
Determine load weights and check them against lifting capacities to prevent overload.
Move levers, depress foot pedals, or turn dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.
Inspect and adjust crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.
Engineering and Technology
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
hold or move items with your hands
pay attention to something without being distracted
do two or more things at the same time
decide which thing is closer or farther away from you or decide how far away it is from you
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Office suite software
Operating system software
certificate after high school or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Examples of Registered Apprenticeship programs include: