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How to Become an Operating Engineer

Written by

George D. Baker

Date

August 14, 2014

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Construction is a complex field and highly trained workers are required for the safe and effective use of a variety of equipment. Operating engineers are highly skilled professionals that operate a variety of heavy machinery for many different construction projects.

What does an operating engineer do?

Operating engineers survey construction sites and select the most appropriate equipment and tools to complete the project. They operate several types of construction equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, drills, compressors, tractors, hoists, and pile drivers. They operate the machinery that is used to dig into the ground, erect structures, and move and transport the required materials. They use direct physical activity or control mechanisms to operate equipment. Operating engineers also perform the necessary maintenance and repairs on construction equipment.

What kind of training does an operating engineer need?

Operator engineers usually need at least a high school diploma, but many complete formal apprenticeship or training programs. Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by union organizations and they combine classroom instruction and paid on the job training. Some vocational and technical schools offer programs in operation engineering. Prospective operating engineers typically complete courses in mechanics, mechanical drawing, mathematics, construction equipment, construction methods, and electronics. Most employers provide intensive on the job training. New operating engineers typically start out under the supervision of an experienced operating engineer. They move on to independent tasks as the gain the necessary skills and experience. Operating engineers often complete additional training as needed throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as an operating engineer?

Employment of operating engineers is expected to grow as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% through 2018. The growing population and increased demand for construction will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good especially for operating engineers with extensive experience and the ability to use a variety of construction equipment. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace operating engineers that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do operating engineers make?

As of 2015, operating engineers with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $16.46 and $25.43. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average hourly rates between $18.00 and $33.84.

A career as an operating engineer is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in operating a variety of heavy equipment for many different types of construction projects. Operating engineers must have a solid understanding of construction procedures and the operation of many different types of equipment. Mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, physical stamina, eye-hand-foot coordination, and the ability to effectively judge distance are necessary characteristics. Operating engineers must be able to stay focused despite distractions and be constantly aware and alert. They must have the ability to work in a variety of weather conditions. They must also consistently follow the proper safety procedures to minimize hazards and injury.

Becoming an Operating Engineer Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Do you know what the top highest-paying engineering jobs are? Set yourself up for a good salary job with an engineering degree!

Are you serious about becoming an Operating Engineer? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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