Excavating Contractor Career Facts

An excavating contractor plays a vital role in the construction process and is always in demand in the excavating industry. If you have considered getting into the field, here are the basics of being an excavating contractor and what you should expect out of the career.

Becoming an Excavating Contractor

In order to become an excavating contractor, you will have to learn the basics of heavy machinery. In most cases, this is done at a vocational or technical school. Typically, the program will take one to two years and you will learn the basics of how to operate many different types of heavy equipment.

Basic Tasks

A typical day for an excavating contractor will be full of many different activities related to construction. Before anything can be built, the ground must first be excavated. Therefore, an excavating contractor will be in charge of meeting the specific objectives of the particular job at hand. They will have to be able to operate heavy machinery independently and effectively. This might entail using a backhoe to dig up the ground. It also might mean driving a dump truck to move the dirt that was removed. Excavating contractors have to work closely with other construction personnel. Therefore, you will need to be able to develop relationships and work in a fast-paced environment. Many excavating contractors also have to learn hand signals in order to effectively communicate in loud conditions. Excavating contractors may have to direct the employees that are working on the ground to help them accomplish their tasks. Excavating contractors may also have to measure and verify particular grade levels of the ground. Therefore, some planning and evaluation is involved in their job. You will also have to be able to maintain and possibly repair your equipment as needed.

Work Schedule

The work schedule of an excavating contractor can vary greatly. There will typically not be a set schedule from one week to the next. You will be working on a variety of different projects over the course of year. Therefore, some days you will not be able to work at all. Then other days, you might have to work 16 hours. Much of your work schedule will also depend on the weather. Some jobs cannot be completed while it is raining. This means that you will potentially have to be on standby frequently.


The average excavating contractor can make approximately $70,000 per year. However, depending on how much you want to work, you can earn as much as $130,000 per year.

Opportunities for Advancement

As an excavating contractor, there are other roles that you can advance to. Many excavating contractors move on to start their own businesses in the industry. Others move on to a foreman role within a construction company. You might also have some other type of management role for an excavation company. You will be able to network with many other professionals in the industry and job opportunities will come up.