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Construction Equipment Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Operates one or several types of power construction equipment, such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers, compressors, pumps, derricks, shovels, tractors, or front-end loaders to excavate, move, and grade earth, erect structures, or pour concrete or other hard surface pavement. May repair and maintain equipment in addition to other duties.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Learns and follows safety regulations.
  • Takes actions to avoid potential hazards or obstructions, such as utility lines, other equipment, other workers, or falling objects.
  • Locates underground services, such as pipes or wires, prior to beginning work.
  • Monitors operations to ensure that health and safety standards are met.
  • Adjusts handwheels and depresses pedals to control attachments, such as blades, buckets, scrapers, or swing booms.
  • Starts engines, moves throttles, switches, or levers, or depresses pedals to operate machines, such as bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, or backhoes.
  • Coordinates machine actions with other activities, positioning or moving loads in response to hand or audio signals from crew members.
  • Loads and moves dirt, rocks, equipment, or other materials, using trucks, crawler tractors, power cranes, shovels, graders, or related equipment.
  • Checks fuel supplies at sites to ensure adequate availability.
  • Drives and maneuvers equipment equipped with blades in successive passes over working areas to remove topsoil, vegetation, or rocks or to distribute and level earth or terrain.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Bulldozer Operator -- Operates tractor equipped with concave blade attached across front to gouge out, level, and distribute earth and to push trees and rocks from land preparatory to constructing roads and buildings or planting crops, or in mining, quarrying, and lumbering op
  • Crane Operator -- Operates cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations.
  • Heater Planer Operator -- Drives and controls machine that heats and scrapes road surface to smooth surface.
  • Backhoe Operator --
  • Hydraulic Hammer Operator --
  • Rotary Soil Stabilizer --