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.

$27,766 - $79,278
(Median)
$28K
$46K
$79K
MEDIAN: $46,349
10%
50%
90%

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$13.13 - $28.85
(Median)
$13
$19
$29
MEDIAN: $18.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$27K$54K$81K
Salary
$27,766 - $79,278  
   
Bonus
$400.00 - $5,114  
Profit Sharing
$51.52 - $6,787  
Commission
$504  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$29,517 - $72,085  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 500
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$14$28$42
Hourly Rate
$13.13 - $28.85  
   
Hourly Tips
$0.00 - $4.85  
Overtime
$18.64 - $39.73  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$28K$56K$84K
Bonus
$400.00 - $5,114  
   
Commission
$504  
Profit Sharing
$51.52 - $6,787  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$29,517 - $72,085  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 4,435
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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.

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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


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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

National Average: $44,061

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that 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).

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Experience Affects Heavy Equipment Operator Salaries



National Average
$44,000



Skills That Affect Heavy Equipment Operator Salaries

Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
up arrow 29%

foreman
up arrow 26%

Welding
up arrow 17%

Operations Management
up arrow 14%

OSHA Compliance
up arrow 13%

excavator
up arrow 11%



Heavy Equipment Repair
up arrow 5%

Machine Operation
up arrow 1%

Operator
up arrow 1%

CDL
up arrow 1%

Equipment Maintenance
0%

National Average
$44,000


Safety Compliance
up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 584 votes.

Gender

Female
3 %
Male
97 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
2%
1-4 years
27%
5-9 years
19%
10-19 years
28%
20 years or more
23%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 67%
dental benefits
Dental: 48%
medical benefits
Vision: 38%
dental benefits
None: 32%
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