Heavy equipment operators operate heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports, gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures, in surface mining and quarrying activities and in material handling work. They are employed by construction, pipeline and logging companies, and by heavy equipment contractors.

Excellent vision or use of prescribed lenses.

Capacity to provide and follow direction.

Sharp decision-making skills, also when under pressure.


  • Maneuvering motorized heavy equipment to ensure the accurate removal and placement of materials.
  • Loading and offloading rocks, debris, and other materials from heavy equipment.
  • Observing stipulated safety codes at all times.
  • Communicating with coworkers to elucidate project specifications, as needed.
  • Reporting injuries and other accidents to the line manager.
  • Advising the line manager of requisite upgrades, repairs, and replacements.
  • Aiding coworkers to ensure that the site is clean and organized at the end of each shift.
  • Providing suggestions to refine workflow and boost efficiency.

Key Skills & Attributes

(technical training and on the job)

  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Great spacial awareness.
  • Works great with a team.
  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Critical problem solving.
  • Focus on work safety.
  • Good decision-making skills.
  • Strength to work in a fast-paced, physical environment and operate heavy equipment.

What You’ll Need

Entrance Requirements

Highschool or equivalent. Complete a three-to-four-year apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.

Apprenticeship Program: 3-4 years, includes technical training, on-the-job training and exam. Journeyperson certificate awarded after successful completion.

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Hourly Pay

Approx. $36-$37

(Based on journeyperson)

Projected Construction Worker Retirements

~ 8,100 by 2029*

*BuildForce Canada

Did You Know?

Heavy equipment operators use four main types of equipment: backhoes, bulldozers, front-end loaders and graders. Some operators work with several types of equipment while others choose to specialize.