Bulldozer Operator: Job Outlook & Career Info

Bulldozer operators use heavy equipment to help build roads, houses and other construction projects. Learn the education and training required to become a bulldozer operator.

Career Definition for a Bulldozer Operator

Bulldozer operators drive and maneuver bulldozers in order to clear land, debris, rubble and other objects at outdoor construction sites. Bulldozer operators work in a team setting, usually under the direction of a site manager. They can work anywhere in the country, and the work is usually seasonal in nature.

Education High school diploma or equivalent, vocational training, on-the-job experience
Job Skills Mechanical aptitude, team player, hand-eye coordination
Median Salary (2017) $46,080 (construction equipment operators)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 12% (faster than average)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A high school degree is the required level of formal education for a career as a bulldozer operator. However, most bulldozer operators spend at least four years in training before obtaining professional status. Bulldozer operators can learn the basics at a specialized training school or by serving a paid apprenticeship with the International Union of Operating Engineers. A commercial driver's license (CDL) is often required; rules and regulations for obtaining CDLs vary from state-to-state.

Skills Required

Bulldozer operators should have mechanical aptitude and be comfortable with the size and power of the machines; experience with farm equipment or in the military can be helpful. Technological aptitude, such as ability to use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology, is useful. Bulldozer operators must have good hand-eye coordination and strong attention to detail. Effectively doing this work requires bulldozer operators to take direction well and be a team player to avoid costly delays from misunderstandings or disagreements.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for all construction equipment operators, including bulldozer operators, will increase by 12% from 2016 to 2026. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for construction equipment operators was $46,080 in May 2017.

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Alternative Career Options

Material Moving Machine Operators

Like construction equipment operators, material moving machine operators drive large pieces of equipment, but material movers are focused on transporting all types of materials, including construction materials, from place to place. There is no minimum education requirement for material moving machine operators, but training is required. The length and type of training depends on the type of moving machine that operators are learning to use. For example, crane operators may complete an apprenticeship and may be required to obtain a license, while operators of other types of equipment may only need a few weeks of on-the-job training. As of May 2017, the median salary for material moving machine operators was $34,830, according to the BLS. The BLS also projects that the number of jobs in this career field will increase at an average rate of 6% from 2016 to 2026.

Tractor-Trailer Drivers

Those interested in operating large vehicles, but who want to get off the construction site, may be interested in a career as a tractor-trailer driver. Tractor-trailer drivers operate tucks with high-capacity trailers. Tractor-trailer drivers typically attend classes related to driving these large vehicles and are required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). In May 2017, the BLS reported that heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers earned a median annual salary of $42,480. Those who worked in the general truck transportation industry had a median salary of $44,020. The BLS projects that jobs for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers will increase by 6% (as fast as average) from 2016 to 2026.

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