Heavy Equipment Operators operate and maintain the large machinery used in oil and gas facilities, pipeline construction, material handling and mining. Graders, scrapers, compactors, tractors, bulldozers and front-end loaders – no matter the machine, the operator is the one in control.

What a typical day looks like:

Heavy Equipment Operators drive large machines to safely get the job done. One day, they might be driving a motor grader to grade the surface of an access road. The next day, they might be driving a bulldozer to clear trees for a pipeline right-of-way. Or, they could also be at an oil sands site, driving a scraper and clearing land.

Whatever powerful machine is being used, the job is always the same: Heavy Equipment Operators make the land workable so crews can build access roads, bridges, pipeline right-of-ways, tunnels, buildings and mines. They follow hand or audio signals from other crew members that help coordinate their actions as they excavate, move and grade earth, build structures or pour concrete.

Employed by construction companies, heavy equipment contractors, public works departments and pipeline or cargo-handling companies, Heavy Equipment Operators often need to work flexible hours in a variety of weather conditions, which can also affect ground conditions. Working conditions in construction zones can be noisy and sometimes dusty.

The kinds of problems Heavy Equipment Operators solve at work:

Different types of land require different techniques, so Heavy Equipment Operators use problem-solving skills to identify the best approach or equipment for the situation. They are aware of weather conditions and the ground they’re working on so they can make the best decisions on how to drive and operate the machinery they need to use.

Skills used most on the job:

First and foremost, Heavy Equipment Operators need to be able to operate heavy machinery. Given the size of heavy equipment, operators also need to be extremely safety conscious and need to be able to follow directions from their managers as well as for instructions and signals from their crewmates. At a senior level, a Heavy Equipment Operator also needs the mechanical skill to inspect equipment for defects or other problems.

Heavy Equipment Operators are comfortable on a busy job site. They make sure that the machinery is under control so that the area is ready for the next step in the work process.

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