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Career profile Construction Operating Engineer

Also known as Back Hoe Operator, Engineering Equipment Operator, Equipment Operator (EO), Forklift Operator, Heavy Equipment Operator, Hot Mix Asphalt Operator, Machine Operator, Motor Grader Operator, Operating Engineer, Track Hoe Operator

Construction Operating Engineer

Also known as Back Hoe Operator, Engineering Equipment Operator, Equipment Operator (EO)

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$32,980 - $87,220 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Learn and follow safety regulations.
  • Check fuel supplies at sites to ensure adequate availability.
  • Take actions to avoid potential hazards or obstructions, such as utility lines, other equipment, other workers, or falling objects.
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What does a Construction Operating Engineer do?

Construction Operating Engineers operate one or several types of power construction equipment, such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers, compressors, pumps, derricks, shovels, tractors, or front-end loaders to excavate, move, and grade earth, erect structures, or pour concrete or other hard surface pavement.

In addition, Construction Operating Engineers may repair and maintain equipment in addition to other duties.

What kind of tasks does a Construction Operating Engineer perform regularly?

Construction Operating Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Learn and follow safety regulations.
  • Take actions to avoid potential hazards or obstructions, such as utility lines, other equipment, other workers, or falling objects.
  • Start engines, move throttles, switches, or levers, or depress pedals to operate machines, such as bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, or backhoes.
  • Coordinate machine actions with other activities, positioning or moving loads in response to hand or audio signals from crew members.
  • Align machines, cutterheads, or depth gauge makers with reference stakes and guidelines or ground or position equipment, following hand signals of other workers.
  • Locate underground services, such as pipes or wires, prior to beginning work.
  • Signal operators to guide movement of tractor-drawn machines.
  • Repair and maintain equipment, making emergency adjustments or assisting with major repairs as necessary.
  • Load and move dirt, rocks, equipment, or other materials, using trucks, crawler tractors, power cranes, shovels, graders, or related equipment.
  • Operate tractors or bulldozers to perform such tasks as clearing land, mixing sludge, trimming backfills, or building roadways or parking lots.
  • Drive and maneuver equipment equipped with blades in successive passes over working areas to remove topsoil, vegetation, or rocks or to distribute and level earth or terrain.
  • Monitor operations to ensure that health and safety standards are met.
  • Select and fasten bulldozer blades or other attachments to tractors, using hitches.
  • Connect hydraulic hoses, belts, mechanical linkages, or power takeoff shafts to tractors.
  • Operate loaders to pull out stumps, rip asphalt or concrete, rough-grade properties, bury refuse, or perform general cleanup.
  • Operate equipment to demolish or remove debris or to remove snow from streets, roads, or parking lots.
  • Keep records of material or equipment usage or problems encountered.
  • Adjust handwheels and depress pedals to control attachments, such as blades, buckets, scrapers, or swing booms.

The above responsibilities are specific to Construction Operating Engineers. More generally, Construction Operating Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Construction Operating Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Construction Operating Engineer is $49,770, and the average salary is $55,280. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Construction Operating Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Construction Operating Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Construction Operating Engineers earn less than $32,980 per year, 25% earn less than $39,150, 75% earn less than $65,640, and 90% earn less than $87,220.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Construction Operating Engineers is expected to change by 5.4%, and there should be roughly 46,000 open positions for Construction Operating Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$49,770
Typical salary range
$32,980 - $87,220
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
5.4%

What personality traits are common among Construction Operating Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Construction Operating Engineer are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Construction Operating Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Construction Operating Engineers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Construction Operating Engineer tend to value Support, Relationships, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Construction Operating Engineers strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Construction Operating Engineers moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Construction Operating Engineers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Construction Operating Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, initiative, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Construction Operating Engineers, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Construction Operating Engineers need?

Working as a Construction Operating Engineer usually requires a high school diploma.

Construction Operating Engineers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Construction Operating Engineers

  • 20.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 53.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 18.0% completed some college coursework
  • 5.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 2.5% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.4% earned a Master's degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Construction Operating Engineers

Construction Operating Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, public safety and security, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Construction Operating Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Construction Operating Engineers

Construction Operating Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Construction Operating Engineers need abilities such as control precision, depth perception, and multilimb coordination in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Construction Operating Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Depth Perception
The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.

Critical Skills needed by Construction Operating Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Construction Operating Engineers frequently use skills like operation and control, equipment maintenance, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Construction Operating Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Equipment Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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