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Pile-Driver Operator: Job Outlook & Career Info

Pile-driver operators handle the machines that pound steel, concrete and wood posts into the earth to provide the needed support for buildings and other structures. Learn what it takes to become a pile-driver operator.

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Career Definition for Pile-Driver Operators

Using a series of levers and foot pedals, pile-driver operators manipulate their equipment to drive beams deep into the earth. Pile-drivers are used primarily on very large construction projects, but they may also be needed for more standard work-sites.

Education On-site training or apprenticeship
Job Skills Communications skills, critical thinking, machinery operating ability, good judgment
Median Salary $49,430 (2015) for Pile-driver operators
Career Outlook 17% (2014-2024) for Pile-driver operators

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most pile-driver operators train by working on the job under the supervision of experienced operators; however, several trade and vocational schools have programs for pile-driver operators. The International Union of Operating Engineers offers an apprenticeship program for pile-driver operators that usually lasts three years.

Skills Needed

Pile-driver operators need to have the ability and physical coordination to operate complex machinery. These operators must be good communicators, because taking and giving direction is a major part of the job. Many surprises can occur on a construction site, so critical thinking skills and quick thinking are necessary for pile-driver operators.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that 3,700 pile-driver operating positions existed in May 2014 and that job opportunities for pile-driver operators will grow by 17% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster-than-average job growth. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for pile-driver operators was $49,430 in May 2015.

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Alternative Career Options

Similar jobs can be:

Farmers, Ranchers and Other Agricultural Managers

Like pile-driver operators, farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers only need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the career field, and they often work outdoors in any weather. Farmers and ranchers often learn their trade from working on a family farm, but they might also complete a vocational program. Depending on the type of farm, duties for these workers may include operating farming equipment, supervising agricultural workers and keeping records. While jobs in the career field of farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers are on the decline, the median salary is higher than that of pile-drivers. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are projected to decline by 2% between 2014 and 2024, but the median annual salary was $64,170 in May 2015.

Tractor-Trailer Drivers

Those who like heavy equipment, but prefer to keep moving, may want to explore a career in driving heavy trucks or tractor-trailers. These workers drive long distances in large, heavy trucks. Tractor-trailer drivers are required to complete training and obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). The BLS reported that tractor-trailer drivers earned a median annual salary of $40,260 as of May 2015. Jobs for tractor-trailer drivers are expected to increase by 5% from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS.

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