This week’s featured career: Heavy Equipment Operator!

A Heavy Equipment Operator is what many kids (including a young me) think of as their dream job. You operate the coolest machinery, and often make the biggest physical impact of a job site.


The Basics

Operators work the equipment that moves what needs to be moved in order for something to be built. Job sites include anything from building/maintaining major housing project to roads, bridges or other major infrastructure projects.

As well as operating the machinery, this career requires some basic mechanics training that allows the operator to perform maintenance and quick fixes on a daily basis.

One of the great things about working heavy equipment is that your work is immediately visible and satisfying. You can see the effect of your work on a daily basis, and your work will be visible long after you have moved on.


Heavy Equipment Operators are always needed, and you can continue to get better and better at your craft by constantly operating under different conditions that requires serious focus. It’s not an easy career, and it’s not for everyone.

The stakes are high in this career, and operators need to be on their A game constantly in order to perform well. If a desk job or a dead end job is what you want, then look elsewhere, because heavy equipment operators are required to be razor sharp and constantly engaged. The job can be dangerous, and often operators making the most money are are in the northern parts of Canada and work extraordinary long hours at a very high rate of pay.


Pay Scale

Once again, the pay for heavy equipment operators varies on level of training, experience and location. In a general sense, pay of heavy equipment operators vary between $40,000 — $80,000 annually. This can go up to $130,000 — $150,000+ annually in some places in Canada with lots of experience and overtime pay.


After deciding that you want to become an operator, you’ll need to figure out what sort of equipment you’d like to operate and then start working on the relevant certification/qualifications.

Because of the skills needed are very specialized, you need to specify which types of machines you’d prefer and then work towards the necessary qualifications through in class theory, hands on training then a 2–6 year apprenticeship. The qualifications also are heavily dependent on safety training, as the job can be dangerous to yourself and others.


Different types of equipment include: Backhoes, Wheel loaders, Bulldozers, Excavators, Road graders, Dump trucks, Skid steers and many others. Many programs include training on all of these machines and a technical certificate requires proficiency across all of these machines.

The training is quite technical, as there is a lot of knowledge required. There is a reason why these careers are in high demand, as the number of qualified applicants is few relative to the openings available.


ITA B.C. — Vancouver

Trades Training B.C.

IHE Training School

Vancouver Island University

Heavy Equipment College of Canada — Kitchener Ontario

TTCC — Barrie Ontario