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:
Control or tend conveyors or conveyor systems that move materials or products to and from stockpiles, processing stations, departments, or vehicles. May control speed and routing of materials or products.
On the job, you would:
Inform supervisors of equipment malfunctions that need to be addressed.
Observe conveyor operations and monitor lights, dials, and gauges to maintain specified operating levels and to detect equipment malfunctions.
Record production data such as weights, types, quantities, and storage locations of materials, as well as equipment performance problems and downtime.
Arts and Humanities
Engineering and Technology
Safety and Government
public safety and security
Manufactured or Agricultural Goods
manufacture and distribution of products
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
listen and understand what people say
communicate by speaking
quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
pay attention to something without being distracted
Hand and Finger Use
hold or move items with your hands
People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Operating system software
Industrial control software
Control system software
Data base user interface and query software
Data entry software
no high school diploma/GED or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.