Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators
Operate 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.
Sample of reported job titles: Back Hoe Operator, Engineering Equipment Operator, Equipment Operator (EO), Forklift Operator, Heavy Equipment Operator, Hot Mix Asphalt Operator, Machine Operator, Motor Grader Operator, Operating Engineer, Track Hoe Operator
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Learn and follow safety regulations.
- Take actions to avoid potential hazards or obstructions, such as utility lines, other equipment, other workers, or falling objects.
- Start engines, move throttles, switches, or levers, or depress pedals to operate machines, such as bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, or backhoes.
- Coordinate machine actions with other activities, positioning or moving loads in response to hand or audio signals from crew members.
- Align machines, cutterheads, or depth gauge makers with reference stakes and guidelines or ground or position equipment, following hand signals of other workers.
- Locate underground services, such as pipes or wires, prior to beginning work.
- Signal operators to guide movement of tractor-drawn machines.
- Repair and maintain equipment, making emergency adjustments or assisting with major repairs as necessary.
- Load and move dirt, rocks, equipment, or other materials, using trucks, crawler tractors, power cranes, shovels, graders, or related equipment.
- Drive and maneuver equipment equipped with blades in successive passes over working areas to remove topsoil, vegetation, or rocks or to distribute and level earth or terrain.
- Operate tractors or bulldozers to perform such tasks as clearing land, mixing sludge, trimming backfills, or building roadways or parking lots.
- Monitor operations to ensure that health and safety standards are met.
- Connect hydraulic hoses, belts, mechanical linkages, or power takeoff shafts to tractors.
- Select and fasten bulldozer blades or other attachments to tractors, using hitches.
- Operate loaders to pull out stumps, rip asphalt or concrete, rough-grade properties, bury refuse, or perform general cleanup.
- Operate equipment to demolish or remove debris or to remove snow from streets, roads, or parking lots.
- Keep records of material or equipment usage or problems encountered.
- Adjust handwheels and depress pedals to control attachments, such as blades, buckets, scrapers, or swing booms.
- Check fuel supplies at sites to ensure adequate availability.
- Perform specialized work, using equipment, such as pile drivers, dredging rigs, drillers, or concrete pumpers.
- Talk to clients and study instructions, plans, or diagrams to establish work requirements.
- Drive tractor-trailer trucks to move equipment from site to site.
- Push other equipment when extra traction or assistance is required.
- Operate road watering, oiling, or rolling equipment, or street sealing equipment, such as chip spreaders.
- Operate compactors, scrapers, or rollers to level, compact, or cover refuse at disposal grounds.
- Test atmosphere for adequate oxygen or explosive conditions when working in confined spaces.
- Compile cost estimates for jobs.
- Turn valves to control air or water output of compressors or pumps.
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- Electronic mail software — Microsoft Outlook
- Facilities management software — Maintenance record software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Microsoft Windows
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Time accounting software — Work record software
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
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- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
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- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
- Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Response Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
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- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Update job related knowledge or skills.
- Position construction or extraction equipment.
- Monitor construction operations.
- Operate equipment or vehicles to clear construction sites or move materials.
- Move construction or extraction materials to locations where they are needed.
- Locate equipment or materials in need of repair or replacement.
- Maintain construction tools or equipment.
- Signal equipment operators to indicate proper equipment positioning.
- Load or unload materials used in construction or extraction.
- Operate heavy-duty construction or installation equipment.
- Communicate with clients about products, procedures, and policies.
- Review blueprints or specifications to determine work requirements.
- Install equipment attachments or components.
- Select construction equipment.
- Record operational or environmental data.
- Remove debris or vegetation from work sites.
- Drive trucks or truck-mounted equipment.
- Assist skilled construction or extraction personnel.
- Operate road-surfacing equipment.
- Compact materials to create level bases.
- Test air quality at work sites.
- Estimate construction project costs.
- Operate pumps or compressors.
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- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 98% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 95% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 67% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 66% responded “Very important results.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 52% responded “Every day.”
- In an Open Vehicle or Equipment — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 65% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 19% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 50% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 47% responded “Some freedom.”
- Telephone — 53% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week
- Time Pressure — 52% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 47% responded “Very important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 45% responded “Some freedom.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 67% responded “Every day.”
- Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 36% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Whole Body Vibration — 50% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 38% responded “Extremely important.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 52% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 46% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 38% responded “Every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 45% responded “Very important.”
- Deal With External Customers — 31% responded “Very important.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 19% responded “Never.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 45% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Work Schedules — 47% responded “Irregular (changes with weather conditions, production demands, or contract duration).”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 52% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 32% responded “Less than half the time.”
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|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|Not available||High school diploma or equivalent
|Not available||Some college, no degree|
|Not available||Less than high school diploma|
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Interest code: RCI Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
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- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
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- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$23.93 hourly, $49,770 annual|
|Employment (2020)||408,500 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||46,000|
|Top industries (2020)||
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- International Union of Operating Engineers
- National Center for Construction Education and Research
- National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Construction equipment operators
- Pile Driving Contractors Association
- The Associated General Contractors of America
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