Heavy Equipment Operator Salary
Very much a male-dominated career in the United States, Heavy Equipment Operators earn an average of $18.63 per hour. Total cash compensation to Heavy Equipment Operators bottoms out near $30K and approaches $72K on the high end; the biggest paychecks include approximately $5K from bonuses and almost $7K from profit sharing. Compensation for this group is mainly affected by the company, but geography and years of experience are influential factors as well. Most Heavy Equipment Operators report high levels of job satisfaction. Some workers in this field — close to one-third — are not awarded benefits. Medical coverage is reported by a majority and dental plans are enjoyed by half. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
Job Description for Heavy Equipment Operator
A heavy equipment operator is a construction worker who is specifically tasked with the safe and efficient operations of heavy machinery, such as loaders, dump trucks, backhoes, and graders. The heavy equipment operator ensures that the machinery he or she is about to use is in good working order, and then follows all relevant procedures and protocols while using it. The operator may be asked to provide input into the way some equipment is used on a site, and is required to report any noticed anomalies in operation to a construction manager or equipment repair foreperson. The operator also typically assists with any loading or unloading of the equipment from flatbed trucks or trains.Read More...
The operator must carefully follow the directives of construction managers, and the operation of the equipment is usually far more precise and intricate than may be readily apparent. Equipment operators must stay in control at all times.
The education requirements for working as a heavy equipment operator typically involve some education via a technical school, although some contracting companies provide limited instruction as well. Many jurisdictions also require some certification to operate particular pieces of equipment, and persons in this field will typically work to gain that accreditation, in order to increase the value of their job skills. Most heavy equipment operators work in the field on jobsites during daylight hours, although in some situations, other shiftwork may be required.
Heavy Equipment Operator Tasks
- Clean heavy equipment as scheduled.
- Perform daily safety and maintenance checks.
- Maintain a clean and presentable workplace.
- Operate heavy equipment in a safe and effective manner.
- Store heavy equipment safely and securely.
Common Career Paths for Heavy Equipment Operator
At the upper end, Heavy Equipment Operators who move into a Construction Project Manager role can end up with a hefty increase in pay. The average income for Construction Project Managers is a much higher $70K per year. The most common career progression for Heavy Equipment Operators leads to becoming a Construction Foreman, where average pay is $51K annually. However, many Heavy Equipment Operators also opt to become Equipment Operators. Typically, an Equipment Operator brings home $40K.
Heavy Equipment Operator Job Listings
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Popular Employer Salaries for Heavy Equipment Operator
Many Heavy Equipment Operators can be found at Waste Management, Inc., Republic Services Inc, Vulcan Materials Co, U.S. Air Force (USAF), and U.S. Army, firms that are at the top of the field. Chicago Bridge and Iron leads the field in terms of pay, with a median salary of $79K. Those in search of high salaries should also consider Waste Connections, Inc., The Lane Construction Corporation, and Martin Marietta Materials Inc, top-paying firms where Heavy Equipment Operators rake in a $59K, $54K, or $50K, respectively.
Employees at U.S. Air Force (USAF), U.S. Army, and Vulcan Materials Co can also expect below-average earnings of $29K, $30K, and $37K.
Popular Skills for Heavy Equipment Operator
Survey results imply that Heavy Equipment Operators deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, facility with Global Positioning Systems, foreman, and Welding are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 29 percent, 26 percent, and 17 percent, respectively. Skills that pay less than market rate include Safety Compliance and EQUIPMENT OPERATOR. Those proficient in Equipment Maintenance are, more often than not, also skilled in Blueprints.
Pay by Experience Level for Heavy Equipment Operator
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience and pay tend to be weakly linked for Heavy Equipment Operators — those with more experience do not necessarily bring in higher earnings. Folks with fewer than five years of experience take home $39K on average, and those who have worked for five to 10 years see a bigger median salary of $43K. For Heavy Equipment Operators, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $48K. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $52K.
Pay Difference by Location
Williston offers some of the highest pay in the country for Heavy Equipment Operators, 72 percent above the national average. Heavy Equipment Operators can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Seattle (+32 percent), Las Vegas (+27 percent), Indianapolis (+14 percent), and Denver (+8 percent). Orlando is home to the smallest salaries in the field, lagging the national average by 15 percent. Employers also pay below the national average in Tampa (13 percent lower) and Charleston (11 percent lower).