An equipment operator performs the hands-on aspect of using equipment, applying mechanical skill sets to operate a variety of devices such as a scraper, bulldozer, tractor, motor grader, front-end loader, crane, pile driver, and back hoe. Equipment operators are commonly seen using their equipment for road construction and maintenance. Other common projects that equipment operators work on are building construction, bridge construction, industrial farm work, and other large structures. On top of operating various machines, equipment operators must also perform regular maintenance on the machines they operate and be capable of troubleshooting problems
Due to constraints and difficulties posed by each individual project, equipment operators tend to work odd hours; for example, it is common for an equipment operator to work in the middle of the night on a road construction project. Often, the equipment operator works very long shifts in excess of 12 hours; further, these shifts usually start at hours very early in the morning. Travel may also be required to reach the project site.
Due to the variety of equipment used, there are numerous certification programs that are designed to teach equipment operators how to operate and maintain various machines. These courses also teach best safety practices and inform the operator of the dangers inherent in using heavy machinery.