How to Get Started as a Heavy Equipment Operator
At Milestone we believe our greatest asset is our good, smart, hardworking people who together make a real difference in the world. We work in teams and hold each other to high standards, yet we always find time to have fun. We share a vision for the company’s future, a passion for creating value, and a common energy focused on delivering success.
We live out The Milestone Way by Making Lives Better One Road and Bridge at a Time with our high-quality work.
If these qualities align with your personal values, the construction industry just might be the place for you to build a career.
Have you ever driven past a construction site and saw an excavator, asphalt roller, or skid loader, and wondered what it would take to be the person operating that machinery? Learn how to get started in a Heavy Equipment Operator career below.
What is a Heavy Equipment Operator?
If you were that kid that loved to play in the dirt and mud, a career as a heavy equipment operator could be your dream job. Not only is this job currently in high demand, but it can also provide great pay.
A heavy equipment operator works in the construction industry to transport earth or other materials, or to erect and install construction materials. A workday for a heavy equipment operator may look like laying down roadbeds and working with paving materials or preparing sites for construction. Operators know how to calculate appropriate loads and can read and follow blueprints and designs. They typically learn to maintain and ensure the proper use of machinery as well.
Heavy equipment operators use a variety of machines on the job, including excavators, skid steers, and backhoes for earthwork. Material handling equipment like forklifts, conveyors, and telehandlers can move heavy materials around the job site or lift materials into place.
It’s important to keep in mind that being an operator doesn't mean just playing in the dirt. Operators handle large equipment that can easily injure a person if safety is not taken seriously. A mistake could cause serious injury, costly damage, and fines. That is why proper training is vital in this role.
How to Get Started in My Heavy Operator Career?
1. Earn a high school diploma or GED.
2. Enter and complete heavy equipment training.
A great training resource could be the International Union of Operating Engineers. Find and join your local IUOE here: https://www.iuoe.org/
3. Obtain a commercials driver’s license.
How to obtain a CDL license in Indiana: https://www.in.gov/bmv/licenses-permits-ids/commercial-drivers-license-overview/obtaining-a-commercial-drivers-license/
4. Update your resume.
If you are interested in another career path, Milestone offers many roles outside of heavy equipment operating too.
Career opportunities at Milestone include construction management/supervision, field operations, estimating, safety, quality control, asphalt plant operations, accounting, human resources, and administrative support. Qualifications for some positions may include a college degree, but many of our career paths are accessible through apprenticeships, experience, and on-the-job training.
Our Craft Workers (field crews) are hired directly from the Union Halls associated with our signatory labor unions. If you are interested in a position in one of the crafts (heavy equipment operators, laborers, carpenters, or truck drivers), please visit or call the local union office in that craft.
Our heavy equipment operators are members of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
Our laborers are members of the Laborers Union International of North America.
Our carpenters are members of the Indiana/Ohio/Kentucky Council of Carpenters.
Our truck drivers are members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
If you don’t see a current opening that fits your skill set, please leave us your resume and let us know what positions interest you; we will send you an alert if an open position matches your interests. Or contact us directly at email@example.com or 317-788-6885. We'd be happy to assist you.