Should I Be an Operating Engineer?
Operating engineers oversee the use of heavy machinery, like cranes and bulldozers, at construction sites. These professionals also might drive industrial trucks and operate other power equipment. Precautions must be taken when working with heavy machinery to assure all workers' safety.
|Education Level||High school diploma|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure is required to operate certain types of equipment; some additional certifications may be optional|
|Key Skills||Problem solving; skills in communication and industry-related computer programs such as facilities management and time accounting software; good hand-eye-foot coordination; ability to use and maintain equipment such as pipe threaders, ditchers, rollers, loaders, and cranes|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$49,110 (for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators)|
Sources: iSeek Careers, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), Building Contractors Association of New Jersey
Steps to Be an Operating Engineer
What steps do I need to take to be an operating engineer?
Step 1: Obtain Relevant Training
Some operating engineers enter the workforce through formal apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship candidates generally need a high school diploma, and entrance into these programs is competitive. Apprenticeship programs usually last for several years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
Prospective operating engineers also can choose to learn on-the-job. In this type of training, trainees learn from an experienced worker. Informal job training can last from several months to a year.
Step 2: Obtain Licensure
Operating engineers might be required to obtain licensure to operate certain equipment, such as cranes and bulldozers. Qualifications vary by state but might include meeting vision standards, passing an exam, and meeting health requirements.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Workers who can operate multiple pieces of equipment will have an increased ability to remain in this occupation. In addition, workers who live near large metropolitan areas will have a greater opportunity for employment. Operating engineers with extensive experience may start their own businesses or work as teachers for various apprenticeship programs.
To increase your chances for success, you may want to obtain certification. Voluntary certification is available for some types of heavy equipment. For example, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) administers certification programs for various types of crane maneuvering.
Operating engineers oversee the use of heavy machinery at construction sites. They're expected to have high school diplomas, training, strong coordination, and expertise with industry equipment and software, and they earn a mean annual wage of $49,110.