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Heavy Equipment Machines on Construction Site


Heavy  Equipment

Career Overview

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What They Do


A heavy equipment operator drives or controls construction equipment, including bulldozers, forklifts, backhoes, dump trucks, cargo trucks, and hydraulic truck cranes. They operate this equipment to assist in the construction of structures, including bridges, roads, and buildings. Heavy equipment operators usually specialize in one of three areas. Construction equipment operators,  also called operating engineers, handle loading and excavation machines. They use these machines to dig and lift sand, gravel, or earth. Paving and surface equipment operators use machines to spread concrete and asphalt during the construction of roadways. Pile-driver operators control equipment to hammer heavy beams of wood, concrete, and steel, called piles, into the ground.

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Job Duties

  • Update job related knowledge or skills.

  • Position construction or extraction equipment.

  • Locate equipment or materials in need of repair or replacement.

  • Monitor construction operations.

  • Operate heavy-duty construction or installation equipment.

  • Operate equipment or vehicles to clear construction sites or move materials.

  • Move construction or extraction materials to locations where they are needed.

  • Load or unload materials used in construction or extraction.

  • Test air quality at work sites.

  • Signal equipment operators to indicate proper equipment positioning.

  • Record operational or environmental data.

  • Drive trucks or truck-mounted equipment.

  • Maintain construction tools or equipment.

  • Install equipment attachments or components.

  • Remove debris or vegetation from work sites.

  • Review blueprints or specifications to determine work requirements.

  • Communicate with clients about products, procedures, and policies.

  • Compact materials to create level bases.

  • Operate road-surfacing equipment.

  • Operate pumps or compressors.

  • Select construction equipment.

  • Assist skilled construction or extraction personnel.

  • Estimate construction project costs

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Job Earnings


In New York State:

$40,913  is entry level

$69,950  is the median salary

$153,192  is the upper range

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Education/Training Requirements

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for most jobs. Vocational training and math courses are useful, and a course in auto mechanics can be helpful because workers often perform maintenance on their equipment.

Learning at vocational schools may be beneficial in finding a job. Schools may specialize in a particular brand or type of construction equipment.

Some schools incorporate sophisticated simulator training into their courses, allowing beginners to familiarize themselves with the equipment in a virtual environment before operating real machines.

Many workers learn their jobs by operating light equipment under the guidance of an experienced operator. Later, they may operate heavier equipment, such as bulldozers. Some construction equipment with computerized controls requires greater skill to operate. Operators of such equipment may need more training and some understanding of electronics.

Other workers learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to maintain equipment, operate machinery, and use technology, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. In the classroom, apprentices learn operating procedures for equipment, safety practices, and first aid, as well as how to read grading plans.

Most Heavy Equipment Operators are required to have a CDL.

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Job Outlook & Growth


In New York State in 2018, 13,010 people were employed as heavy equipment operators.  In 2020, there are projected to be 14.530 people employed in this line of work. The anticipated annual job openings, based on growth and positions opening as a result of retirement and attrition are 1,640 in New York State

Career Pathway

Ways to Start Preparing for Your Future Career TODAY!
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Middle & High School Opportunities

Source: BOCES
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Local Colleges/Training

Local Career Connection

Brad West

Heavy Equipment Operator

Genesee Construction Services

Dansville, NY

Deeper Dive

Larissa talks about her job as a 

Bulldozer Operator

Courtesy of Job Talks Construction

Where Can I Work?

Local GLOW Companies With
Heavy Equipment Operator Jobs
logo link to Genesee Construction
logo links to Rochester-Sand-Gravel
Logo links to DDS companies
logo link to american rock salt
logo links to LG Evans
logo links to Redman Construction
logo links to lehigh hanson
logo links to milton

This is a selection of businesses in the region offering this career.  That does not mean that there are currently positions available.  For information on companies who are hiring right now, please visit

 If you would like to see your business listed here in the future, please email us at

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