What does an operating engineer do?
Operating engineers survey construction sites and select the most appropriate equipment and tools to complete the project. They operate several types of construction equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, drills, compressors, tractors, hoists, and pile drivers. They operate the machinery that is used to dig into the ground, erect structures, and move and transport the required materials. They use direct physical activity or control mechanisms to operate equipment. Operating engineers also perform the necessary maintenance and repairs on construction equipment.
What kind of training does an operating engineer need?
Operator engineers usually need at least a high school diploma, but many complete formal apprenticeship or training programs. Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by union organizations and they combine classroom instruction and paid on the job training. Some vocational and technical schools offer programs in operation engineering. Prospective operating engineers typically complete courses in mechanics, mechanical drawing, mathematics, construction equipment, construction methods, and electronics. Most employers provide intensive on the job training. New operating engineers typically start out under the supervision of an experienced operating engineer. They move on to independent tasks as the gain the necessary skills and experience. Operating engineers often complete additional training as needed throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as an operating engineer?
Employment of operating engineers is expected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increased demand for construction will drive job growth.
Job prospects should be good especially for operating engineers with extensive experience and the ability to use a variety of construction equipment. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace operating engineers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do operating engineers make?
As of January 2010, operating engineers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $16.46 and $25.43. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average hourly rates between $18.00 and $33.84 (2).
A career as an operating engineer is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in operating a variety of heavy equipment for many different types of construction projects. Operating engineers must have a solid understanding of construction procedures and the operation of many different types of equipment. Mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, physical stamina, eye-hand-foot coordination, and the ability to effectively judge distance are necessary characteristics. Operating engineers must be able to stay focused despite distractions and be constantly aware and alert. They must have the ability to work in a variety of weather conditions. They must also consistently follow the proper safety procedures to minimize hazards and injury.