April 11, 2023
 | Students

Top 5 Reasons to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator

Have you ever thought about becoming a heavy equipment operator?

Heavy equipment operators control the excavators, bulldozers, dump trucks and other large machinery that move materials at a construction site. With skilled trades careers having a high job satisfaction rating, a career as a heavy equipment operator is a great option for people who enjoy being active, are detail-oriented and looking for exciting opportunities.

Here are the top 5 reasons to become a heavy equipment operator.


Hands-On Work

One of the top reasons careers in skilled trades like heavy equipment operators have high job satisfaction is the opportunity to do hands-on work.

For many people, the idea of sitting at a desk in a cubicle staring at a computer screen, or doing paperwork isn’t an ideal way to earn a living.

Heavy equipment operators and other craft professionals, however, get to build and create something with their own hands. Every project and every day is unique, so the work is less monotonous than in other career paths.

Being able to see the real-time progress and fruits of their labor makes construction an enjoyable and fulfilling job for heavy equipment operators.


High Demand in Construction

Construction is a massive industry. The construction industry creates about $1.8 trillion worth of structures every year.

New homes, offices, hospitals, schools, factories, roads and other important structures are constantly needing to be built, renovated or replaced. That means there are a lot of jobs in the construction trades that need to be filled. There is a demand for more than 821,080 heavy equipment operators in the United States through December 2024.

Due to a number of different factors, the construction industry is facing a workforce shortage, including heavy equipment operators. There aren’t enough professional heavy equipment operators currently working to meet the needs of all the different projects going on around the country.

Because of the high demand for skilled heavy equipment operators and other craft professionals, these careers offer ample opportunities, more job security and enhanced benefits. Good heavy equipment operators should always be able to find good work in the current market.



Opportunities for Advancement

Construction is a very merit-based industry, so professional heavy equipment operators who are able to prove their skill and value in the field will earn opportunities to advance their careers to more prominent positions.

Adding to this opportunity is the status of the aging workforce. The median age of a skilled trades professional is 43, which is higher than most industries. This number has been growing because the bulk of the construction workforce is nearing retirement age, and fewer young people have joined the industry behind them.

As the seasoned veterans of the construction industry retire or change roles, the leadership positions they are leaving will become available. Important jobs like foreman, site superintendent or project manager will need someone to step up and fill those shoes.

People who start training to be heavy equipment operators now will be in a great position to take advantage of these opportunities a few years down the road.


Good Pay with No College Debt

Like with any job, how much it pays is an important factor.

Craft skills are unique and high in demand, meaning that wages can be very good in the construction industry. Heavy equipment operators have an average base salary of $62,909, or about $30.25/hour.

On top of these strong base salaries, additional incentives for travel and overtime can increase take-home pay, in some cases reaching six figures.

An additional benefit of pursuing a career as a heavy equipment operator is the absence of college debt. Many other popular careers require a four-year university degree, which can cost a significant amount of money. There is an estimated $1.7 trillion in total student debt in the United States. However, education and training for careers in heavy equipment operation are mostly conducted through much cheaper methods. Some of these training options, such as apprenticeships, actually pay the apprentice wages for their work completed during on-the-job training, allowing trainees to earn while they learn.

By factoring in the good pay, the lack of student debt, and the opportunity to start earning money sooner, careers as heavy equipment operators and other trades offer a great head start compared to their peers attending a university.


Chances to Make an Impact

Everyone wants to leave an impact on the world. A career as a heavy equipment operator offers a chance to make a difference in the lives of other people.

Working in construction, the things you build will leave a lasting benefit to that community. Families will grow in those homes. Students will learn in those schools. Lives will be changed because of those gyms, churches, and businesses.

The projects you might work on for only a few months could stand for the next 100 years or more. You could have a small but significant part to play in people’s happiest memories or most important events. Talk about leaving a legacy!


Learn More About Heavy Equipment Operators

For these reasons and more, heavy equipment operator is a great job and a worthy career option.

Check out our heavy equipment operator career page for more information and resources about careers in heavy equipment operation.