There are many different roles on a construction site. Between planning, building, and using heavy equipment, there is a need for a range of workers. So, what is a construction machine operator?
A construction machine operator is in charge of using heavy machinery to move construction materials, dig into the earth, and move other materials at building sites. There are different types of construction machine operators, such as pile drivers, operating engineers, and asphalt spreader operators.
Read on to learn more!
What are construction machine operators?
Construction machine operators are responsible for operating big and heavy construction equipment. These are often the big digging machines and other tractor-like vehicles on a construction site. There are many different construction machines that need trained operators to perform a variety of construction tasks. Below we’re going to look at a few different jobs that fall under the branch of construction machine operators.
Pile driver operators
Pile driver operators use large machinery mounted on barges, skids, or cranes to hammer long, heavy beams into the ground to deliver structural support. These beams can be made of wood, concrete, or steel, and they provide structural support to bridges, piers, retaining walls, or foundations. Pile operators are specially trained to use these machines to ensure the beams are inserted properly, and ready to provide excellent support for the construction.
Paving and surfacing equipment operators
Paving operators typically work with asphalt and need to regulate the temperature of asphalt as it is applied to roads. They also need to ensure an even and constant flow of the asphalt.
Similarly, concrete pavers require the use of levels and handwheels to spread, vibrate, and level wet concrete.
Paving and surfacing operators should watch the surface of the concrete carefully to detect spots that might need more concrete to be laid. Within this category of paving and surfacing equipment operators, there can also be subcategories of jobs. These deal with more specific machinery. The roles include asphalt spreader operators, concrete paving machine operators, tamping equipment operators, and more.
Operating engineers work with one or more types of power construction machinery. They may manoeuvre bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, and industrial trucks with forklifts. They may also operate power equipment like air compressors and pumps at construction sites.
Operating engineers have specialised training for a broader range of construction machinery. This allows them to work on many different machines, learning the ins and outs of each one. The variety of machines to work with as an operating engineer can be exciting and very stimulating, a great reason to work in construction.
What are the job responsibilities of a construction machine operator?
The main duties of a construction machine operator are manoeuvring and controlling heavy machinery. The job responsibilities of a construction machine operator are as follows:
- Driving and manoeuvring heavy machinery.
- Use levers, push pedals, or turn valves to control the machinery.
- Cleaning and maintaining the machinery while making repairs when necessary.
- Reporting malfunctions to supervisors.
- Coordinating with other crew members using audio and/or hand signals.
- Following safety protocols at the site.
Where do construction machine operators work?
Construction machine operators work on a variety of different construction and work sites. These sites include construction ones for buildings, roads, bridges, runways, dams, levees, power generation facilities, etc. Construction machine operators can also work in warehouses, mines, and dockyards where heavy machinery is needed.
It does depend on what machines you learn to use and what sites are needing those machines to be operated. Because of the range of construction machines and roles that include working with these machines, there’s lots of options for where a machine operator works. As a construction machine operator, you can work on all different projects! One of the best ways to get a range of offers from different worksites is to connect with a labour hire company. By connecting with somewhere such as Canberra Labour Hire, you are building a networking relationship. The labour hire company keeps your skills and file on record ready to recommend to employers looking to hire labour workers or machine operators. They put your name forward to an employer, then send you the job description and work together to find great work offers.
How to become a construction machine operator
To become a construction machine operator, your minimum educational qualification should be a high school diploma. There are various construction-related training courses you can follow to obtain machine & machinery tickets. Plant operator training, Certificate III in Rural Operations, and New Machinery Certification are a few courses that will teach you to operate specialized heavy machinery and vehicles. These are some institutions that offer training in construction machine operating:
- Professional Training Solutions
- Major Training
- Construction Training Group
- Australian Training Management
Some of these training courses only take a few days or even hours to complete. Once you have gained the necessary knowledge about machine operation through training, you can also obtain a High-risk Work Licence (HWRL).
You can also become a construction machine operator through apprenticeship programs. Many workers start with light machinery under the monitorship of an experienced machine operator. Then they gradually move on to operating heavy equipment like cranes and bulldozers.
Some types of modern heavy equipment have computerized controls. Therefore, operators would also need a good understanding of electronics and computer skills to manoeuvre such equipment.
What do you need to become a construction machine operator?
You must fulfil these minimum requirements to work as a construction machine operator:
- Minimum age of 18 years
- A valid driving license
- A high school diploma or equivalent qualification
- Apprenticeship or training
- Being physically fit to work
You need to make sure you complete all of your machine operation training, as well as construction site safety training. This is usually done by obtaining a white card which requires you to do general construction safety training. Every construction site worker needs a white card amongst other construction tickets to legally work on building sites.
What’s the salary of a construction machine operator?
On average, an Australian construction machine operator can make $78,000 a year. This is with an average hourly rate of $40. Depending on where you are in your training and career, this could be less or more. The type of work and the risks involved can also increase the pay. Or, if it is a very big project with lots of funding, it’s likely that you can earn more.
The salary of construction workers can change with every job they do. If you don’t think you are earning enough, you can check with Fair Work about the right salary for a machine operator in your role.
What kind of environment do construction machine operators work in?
The environments that machine operators are in will mostly be outside. So, you have to be prepared to deal with changing weather conditions and looking after your body in these times. Construction machine operators are likely to get dirty, muddy, or dusty. They might also be asked to work in remote locations for large construction projects such as building dams or highways.
It’s also important for construction machine operators to be aware of safety risks in all different work environments. The dangers can change depending on where they need to work. Injury and harm can mostly be avoided by following proper safety protocols and adjusting these protocols in different environments. By adjusting, this can mean adding more protocols if it’s a higher-risk environment.
You can undergo more training to help you feel more prepared to work on a range of sites as a construction machine operator. Learn about different construction cards and training for worksites in our blog! If you’re looking to work as a labourer around Canberra, get in touch with our Canberra Labour Hire team today!