Construction Equipment Operator Job Facts

Construction equipment operators provide vital services to construction operations at all stages of building. This work can include operation of multiple forms of construction equipment, from the traditional jackhammer and forklift to advanced equipment. Machine operation on construction sites is often demanding work. It also involves significant responsibility, and there are often major safety issues, relating to both operators and other people on site.  This work may involve operation of heavy machinery, and can also require special access. 

The Work Environment

Machine equipment operators require appropriate certification, and in many cases licenses. As part of the construction worker's portfolio of skills, machine operation is both a natural career development and an important category of portable job skills. 

Machine operations may take place directly on specific site tasks, or be based on preparatory work on materials. Handling of materials, particularly transport of heavy materials like bricks, sand, steel and other materials is separate work but requires special skills, situational awareness and a good knowledge of site access and safety issues. 

Special Requirements

Some machine operations, like bobcat and excavation operations, are very skilled work involving a lot of maneuvering of equipment. Their role is construction  is naturally complex.  Operators must be fully aware of site location issues like the presence of water mains, electrical access, and gas mains. These operators are usually required to be highly experienced senior people with high levels of accreditation and certification. 

Some forms of machine operation construction are hazardous. Use of even basic construction equipment like brick saws or other cutting equipment can cause serious injuries. Handling a jackhammer is physically tiring work, and fatigue based mistakes are major OHS issues in the industry. Machine operators need to be well suited to their equipment, and have the basic stamina to do the work effectively.

Wages and Hours

Wages may be based on hourly, casual or permanent rates. The baseline rate for permanent jobs is $800 per week, or $20 per hour. Contract work may be based on a set fee structure. The average number of hours worked in a week are 40 to 45 hours. Additional overtime is often required, based on contract commitments.

The Career Environment

Experienced machine operators are very much in demand on a regular basis in the construction industry. The work can begin self employed businesses, if the economics are favorable. Like all construction workers, machine operators need to know the industry and the job situation very well, for best job and career opportunities. 

The two main areas of career development are the local building and larger national employment markets. In local building operations, machine operators can function effectively as contractors, and work with multiple jobs. In the larger markets, the employment scenario is usually as part of a construction firm. Both streams offer good employment options and career opportunities. 

Career progression for machine operators is essentially based on career opportunities created by expertise. Progression through foreman and site supervisor roles is the natural form of career advancement in organizations. Many machine operators become very highly qualified, which provides additional options in both employment and career development.