What Is a Finish Equipment Operator?

Research what it takes to become a finish equipment operator. Learn about training programs, job duties, salary statistics 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 Finish Equipment Operator?

A finish equipment operator is a construction equipment operator who specializes in controlling the machines that are used in the final stages of construction products. They work in coordination with a supervisor and a crew of construction workers; when running the machinery, they often communicate via radio or hand signals. In addition to directly maneuvering the finish equipment, operators are also responsible for keeping it clean and making minor repairs. In the case of malfunctions, they report the issue to a supervisor so that the finish equipment can be scheduled for more intensive maintenance.

Below is a table that provides an overview on entering this career.

Education Required Heavy equipment operator certificate or apprenticeship may be preferred
Key Responsibilities Operate construction equipment, observe safety precautions
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 10%* (all construction equipment operators)
Median Salary (2015) $44,600* (for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Finish Equipment Operator Job Duties

As a finish equipment operator, you'll operate heavy machinery used to complete construction projects. You might operate a grader, which is used to smooth the ground after a building is torn down. Graders are also used to smooth and finish the surface around a newly constructed building.

When working with heavy construction equipment, you'll operate the machine, follow instructions given by a supervisor, work with others to maneuver the machine through the construction area and observe all safety precautions. Some employees in the construction industry work long hours, including weekends and holidays. It's common for construction jobs to be seasonal; you may not work during periods of heavy snow or extreme low temperatures.

What Training Do I Need?

Employers of finish equipment operators usually look for job applicants who have some professional or educational experience. Completion of a heavy equipment operator certificate program or an apprenticeship could give you the experience you need.

Certificate programs are often available through community colleges and vocational schools. Most programs offer training in the basics of heavy equipment operation, including general safety guidelines, construction site procedures and use of construction materials.

Apprenticeship programs may be offered through government agencies, trade organizations and technical colleges. In an apprenticeship, paid on-the-job training is combined with classroom instruction. Most apprenticeships last two or three years.

What's the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 355,140 jobs were held by operating engineers and other construction equipment operators in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those workers were employed in the construction industry as well as by local governments and manufacturing companies. The BLS notes that the number of employed construction machinery operators should increase by 10% between 2014 and 2024. Job growth during this time is attributed to an increase in public roadway, city sewer and water system projects.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Construction equipment operators may choose to specialize in the use of a different type of equipment, such as paving machines, which may be used to spread asphalt or lay concrete at the intermediate stages of a construction project. You might also want to consider operating heavy machinery in a non-construction environment. For instance, you could operate a crane at a port, using the equipment to load and unload cargo from ships and barges. For any heavy equipment operation job, you need to have at least a bachelor's degree.

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