Watching huge bulldozers, graders and earthmovers in action fascinates most people – but only a skilled few can actually operate them. Construction equipment operators use machinery to move earth, construction materials, and other heavy supplies. They prepare sites for major construction projects such as roads, bridges, and buildings, and also mines, dams, and other structures. Construction equipment operators work in all kinds of weather, and often get dirty, greasy, muddy, or dusty. Equipment can be noisy, and make no mistake – safety practices are essential. Communication is key in this field, but typically conducted with hand or audio signals rather than conversation. These workers generally work full time, at times in remote locations. Some projects demand around the clock shifts. Operators specialize in different equipment. Operating Engineers work with power construction equipment like bulldozers, trench excavators, and road graders. Paving and Surfacing Equipment Operators spread and smooth asphalt or concrete for roadways or other structures. Pile-Driver Operators use large machines to hammer heavy beams – called piles – into the ground for supporting bridges, piers, or building foundations. After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, many workers learn on the job starting with light equipment. Some attend vocational schools or learn through an apprenticeship. Most jobs require a commercial driver’s license to haul equipment to jobsites.
What they do:
Operate pile drivers mounted on skids, barges, crawler treads, or locomotive cranes to drive pilings for retaining walls, bulkheads, and foundations of structures such as buildings, bridges, and piers.
On the job, you would:
Move hand and foot levers of hoisting equipment to position piling leads, hoist piling into leads, and position hammers over pilings.
Move levers and turn valves to activate power hammers, or to raise and lower drophammers that drive piles to required depths.
Drive pilings to provide support for buildings or other structures, using heavy equipment with a pile driver head.
Engineering and Technology
building and construction
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
Safety and Government
public safety and security
keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
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
hold or move items with your hands
keep your arm or hand steady
imagine how something will look after it is moved around or changed
know where things are around you
pay attention to something without being distracted
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
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
GRL Engineers Wave Equation Analysis Program GRLWEAP
Pile Dynamics Pile Driving Analyzer PDA
Electronic mail software
high school diploma/GED or certificate after high school usually needed
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.