How Do I Become a Heavy Equipment Mover?

Research what it takes to become a heavy equipment mover. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Heavy Equipment Mover?

Heavy equipment movers typically work in the construction or mining business, where they operate the equipment that moves earth and other materials. Depending on the setting, they may operate conveyor systems, cranes, hoist machines or industrial tractors, all of which can transport machines around a work site. They may also operate earth-moving machines like dredge equipment and underground mining loading machines. In addition to running the controls on these machines, operators also clean them, perform routine maintenance and inform supervisors when major repairs are needed.

Read on to learn more about job skills, licensure and median salaries.

Education Required High school diploma; postsecondary education is optional
Training Required On-the-job training is common
Licensure Requirements Commercial driver's licensure varies by state
Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, precision, physically healthy, focused
Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% (for all operating engineers and other construction equipment operators)*
Average Salary (2018) $53,030 (for all operating engineers and other construction equipment operators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Heavy Equipment Mover Do?

When you work as a heavy equipment mover, you are tasked with operating the large machines used to move earth and other heavy materials at construction sites. You might be called upon to work on the sites of new buildings, roadways, bridges or dams. You might also specialize in mining equipment, in which case you are responsible for operating the heavy equipment that lifts and moves earth away from a mine.

As a heavy equipment mover, your main responsibility is to operate the controls that maneuver machinery around a construction or mining site. You use motorized buckets, scoops and shovels to dig into the earth, lift objects and load materials. You should also have the ability to navigate construction site markers and provide light maintenance on heavy pieces of equipment.

What Education Could I Receive?

You don't necessarily need to complete a formal academic program in order to work as a heavy equipment mover or operator. You might simply be required to complete an apprenticeship program or on-the-job training program. However, some community colleges and technical schools do offer associate's degree and certificate programs in heavy equipment operation.

While enrolled in a heavy equipment operation certificate or degree program, you learn how to work the controls of bulldozers, loaders, tractors, asphalt spreaders, forklifts and more. You also learn the basics behind heavy machine operating procedures and construction site safety policies.

Will I Need Certification or Licensure?

Many states require you to earn special licensure before you can operate heavy machinery at a construction site. Each state has its own regulations, but most require you to earn a commercial driver's license (CDL). Many states also test you to ensure that you are in good physical condition and have strong hand-eye coordination skills before they will grant you licensure.

What Might My Salary Be Like?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators in 2018 was $53,030 ( The BLS found that some specialized heavy equipment operators earned more than others. For example, paving, surface and tamping equipment operators earned a mean annual salary of $44,360 in 2018, while pile-driver operators earned a mean annual salary of $64,360 in the same year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of focusing your career on operating machinery that moves heavy objects, you could specialize in the use of a machine with a different purpose. For example, you could become a paving equipment operator. In this job, you would run the equipment that spreads asphalt or lays down concrete. Another option is to operate pile-drivers. Piles are the supports for bridges, piers and building foundations; pile-driver operators us specialized equipment to drive them deep into the ground. For any of these jobs, you must have at least a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Washington-Holmes Technical Center

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  • Washburn Institute of Technology

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    • Utah: Roosevelt
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  • Somerset County Technology Center

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  • The University of Montana

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