The construction industry is full of opportunities. It’s one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. and roles often come with good benefits (see below). However, some of the more valued roles require specialized skills, training, and certifications. Although it can seem like a barrier to starting your career in construction or as a heavy equipment operator, obtaining the proper training and certification sets you up for success (and safety on the job).
Are you wondering whether this is the career path for you? We’ve got answers to your most pressing questions.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Heavy Equipment Operators
Is There a High Demand for Heavy Equipment Operators?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the construction equipment operator field to grow at a rate of 5% through 2031. That’s nearly 50,800 openings per year for the rest of the decade.
Practically every road, bridge, or similar structure was erected through the use of heavy equipment. Since these important and often public structures need to be maintained as well, the demand for qualified operators steadily grows.
What State Has the Highest Demand for Heavy Equipment Operators?
Although you can find opportunities as a heavy equipment operator in practically every state, some may have more than others. Right now, New Jersey ranks as having the highest demand for heavy equipment operators with over 800 roles available. Some roles may require specialized training or certification, so be sure you check those details first.
Is There a Shortage of Heavy Equipment Operators?
Labor shortages have been all over the news, and unfortunately, it has affected the construction and heavy equipment industries. More and more people are reaching retirement age, leading to a significant gap in skilled labor. While this is a serious issue for the industry, it’s also a huge opportunity for anyone looking to start or switch careers. With the right training, you could help solve the labor shortage and reap the rewards of a career in heavy equipment operation.
What Type of Operator Makes the Most Money?
There are several high-paying roles for heavy equipment operators, but only one can claim the top spot. A crane operator’s salary can range from $38,500-$63,500 per year (according to BLS), making them the highest-paid position. Crane operators are responsible for moving heavy materials around the construction site and reaching heights other machines cannot. They are also crucial to planning out lifts and machine maintenance.
But before you can enjoy a crane operator’s salary, you’ll need certification and specialized training. This will ensure you can safely operate the machinery and could help you earn even more as you gain more experience.
Is a Heavy Equipment Operator a Good Career?
Yes, a heavy equipment operator career is a good choice. You get to learn about heavy machinery and massively contribute to public infrastructure. You can get the opportunity to start with a healthy salary that will typically increase based on experience and the type of machinery you’re certified to use. There is also a continuous need for skilled operators as the oldest generation of laborers retires. That means you’ll be able to find plenty of opportunities to find your role in the industry.
Is Heavy Equipment Operator a Skilled Trade?
Yes, heavy equipment operation is a skilled trade that often requires training and certifications, just like other skilled trades. You can find skilled trade school programs near you that offer heavy equipment operator courses ranging from crane operation to general operation. Some of these programs even offer job placement assistance for graduates and financial options to get you started.
How Many Heavy Equipment Operators Are There in The US?
There are an estimated 160,000 heavy equipment operators employed throughout the US. Over 90% of heavy equipment operators are men, with around 9% being women. The average age of a heavy equipment operator is 45 years old.
So whether you’re a man or a woman, have no experience or some—you can find a rewarding career in heavy equipment operation. This industry needs skilled laborers. Learn how you can earn the skills and certification you need in as little as three weeks.
What Makes a Good Equipment Operator?
Thinking about becoming a heavy equipment operator? Here are some of the things that someone well-suited for the job should possess.
1. High School Diploma or GED
Most employers will want to see that you’ve earned at least a high school diploma or GED. Some roles, like management or overseers, may require additional education.
2. Physical Fitness
While your machine will be doing most of the heavy lifting, a heavy equipment operator may need to stand or walk around a construction site for long periods. Weather conditions can put even more strain on operators as well. Additionally, some medical conditions like epilepsy may bar you from becoming an operator.
3. Strong Communication
Every construction project requires strong communication among workers. Moving heavy equipment and material around a construction zone is dangerous work. Everyone must be on the same page. Even if you’re in the cab of a crane 50 feet in the air, you’ll need to communicate with your managers or teammates below.
How Hard Is It To Be a Heavy Equipment Operator?
The level of difficulty to become a heavy equipment operator varies based on the role you’re going after and the level of training or certification required. For example, if you want to be a mobile crane operator, you’ll need to get training and complete a certification program before you can begin your career.
While it can seem like an uphill path going back to school, there are opportunities to complete training and certification in as little as three weeks. Learn more about that here.
What Skills Do Heavy Equipment Operators Need?
Wondering if you have the skills to become a heavy equipment operator? Check this short list to see if you possess some or all of them.
- Understanding of light and heavy equipment operation and maintenance.
- Ability to safely handle powerful equipment.
- Knowledge of basic vehicle inspection and maintenance like monitoring tire pressure and checking oil and water levels.
- Ability to read, understand, and follow instructions and safety protocols.
Do you not possess all of these skills? You can learn them while attending a heavy equipment course. Explore your options here.
Is Heavy Equipment Colleges of America Worth It?
If your goal is to enter the heavy equipment industry fast, then yes, heavy equipment college is worth it. There are programs you can complete in as little as three weeks. You will gain the skills, certification, and hands-on training needed to safely operate heavy equipment. Some programs also offer job placement assistance to ensure you find a start following graduation.
Start Your Career in Heavy Equipment Industry
Do you have what it takes to become a heavy equipment operator? Then it’s time to explore your training options. Look for schools that offer things like financial assistance, job placement help, and accelerated programs. You also want to ensure the program you choose has qualified instructors who can teach you the hands-on training you need to be safe and successful in the field.
Apply to Heavy Equipment Colleges of America Today
Heavy Equipment Colleges of America has accelerated programs that’ll put you on a straight path to a rewarding career as a heavy equipment operator. We have locations across the US that offer practical training, financial assistance, and career services. Start the enrollment process today.