An equipment operator supports a major construction, repair or excavating project. The job entails maneuvering heavy equipment in rugged terrain. Workers must exhibit a high degree of stamina and keen mechanical abilities to excel in this field.
Equipment operators maneuver vehicles and other machinery around construction areas, mines and offshore drilling sites. Essentially, equipment operators prepare a designated site for building or drilling. They may use construction vehicles such as bulldozers, all-terrain forklifts, mobile cranes and backhoes. Equipment operators are responsible for soil leveling or ground manipulation and for the transportation of equipment and materials. They may assist in the construction or repair of bridges, roads and railroads for government infrastructure projects, or they may help build manufacturing plants or other private industry structures.
All equipment operators should possess acute visual perception abilities to accurately judge distances. Additionally, they should have a mechanical aptitude along with a background in auto mechanics to understand the fundamental principles involved in operating the machinery. With the addition of the global positioning system (GPS) technology, workers may need to demonstrate some proficiency with computers. Equipment operators will also need a basic understanding of electronics in order to operate many of the newer vehicles designed with electronic controls.
Industry professionals have a number of opportunities for advancement in the field. They may choose to become on-site supervisors, contract business owners or instructors in training programs.