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Heavy Equipment Operator Earnings

Aug 17, 2007
A heavy equipment operator works with heavy machinery like front-end loaders, cranes, compact equipment, backhoes, excavators, track hoes, bulldozers, forklifts, graders, powered shovels, sweepers, graders, rollers, trenchers, power shovels, solid waste collection vehicle and similar equipment.

There are excellent job opportunities in this field, since the need for such workers is going to increase because despite certain mitigating factors, like improving technology, which would reduce the need for manpower, there would still be a demand-supply gap on account of the increasing population and business growth. Infrastructure needs are expected to increase at a rapid pace. This will require roads, schools, hospitals and offices to be constructed. In order to cater to this growth, more and more equipment will be required, needing the services of specially trained operators. According to the current trend, this demand is going to grow rapidly and the many skilled people in this field will either retire or leave the field in favor of other occupations.

Most heavy equipment operators are engaged in the construction industry. The construction of railroads, bridges, buildings and highways requires heavy construction equipment. Along with the need for personnel in the private industries, there are employment opportunities in the state and local governments also. The earnings for a heavy equipment operator vary according to the type of equipment that he operates and the industry that he is employed in.

On the basis of the type of machinery they operate, heavy equipment operators are categorized as: (a) Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators, (b) paving, surfacing and tamping equipment operators and (c) pile driver operators.

As per the statistics available with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, in May 2004, the median hourly earnings of operating engineers and other construction equipment operators was $17.00. Some earned between $13.19 and $23 per hour. Ten percent earned above $29.34, while the other ten percent earned less than $10.98 per hour. Median earnings according to the different places where a number of them were employed were:

$19.20 per hour for highway, street and bridge construction.
$18.13 per hour for utility system construction.
$17.73 per hour for other specialty trade contractors.
$15.20 per hour for Local government employment.
$13.20 per hour for State government employment.

In the case of the paving, surfacing and tamping equipment operators, the median hourly earnings were $14.42. The others in this category earned between $11.35 and $19.30. Ten percent earned more than $26.51, while ten percent earned less than $9.47. Median earnings in industries that employed a number of these workers were:

$15.03 per hour for other specialty trade contractors.
$14.56 per hour for highway, street and bridge construction.
$13.70 per hour for local government.

For the last category of heavy equipment operators, the pile driver operators, the median hourly earnings were $21.29. Some earned between $15.50 and $30.23. Ten percent earned more than $34.04, while ten percent earned less than $11.78.

If the operator is employed in a metropolitan area, the earnings are definitely higher. The place and kind of work are the factors that determine the amount of remuneration.
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