Want to be an excavator operator? Here’s what you must know

Excavator Operator
© The Scoop

One of the most attractive jobs in the construction industry is excavator operator – with a whopping annual income of $125k-145k in Australia. With this, you can secure a comfortable and decent life with your family!

In this job, you must spend most of your time on construction sites and hardly any office work. If you love working outdoors, this might be just your job. So, let’s know all the details of working as an excavator operator…

What is an excavator operator?

An excavator operator is a construction site professional who operates an excavator – a large digging machine. An operator safely carries large chunks of earth, mud, rubble, concrete, or other construction materials with the machine.

This is done to clear a particular spot for other construction projects like roads and buildings. An operator also uses the excavator to dig the foundation of a structure much faster.

Sometimes, the task is simply to move large amounts of building materials at once to a desirable spot for a project without manual labor.

Responsibilities of an excavator operator

An excavator operator has several diverse responsibilities. Let’s take a quick look at it here:

  • They drive the excavator through the construction site to the required location.
  • They carefully operate the machine without causing damage to unrelated structures and injury to human beings or animals.
  • They go through technical plans and marks on the site to plant the move of materials accurately and safely.
  • They inspect the excavator before and after usage.
  • They clean dirt, rubble, and man-made construction materials like bricks, TMT bars, and concrete particles.
  • They move raw materials for projects to the required location.
  • If required, they use the excavator to demolish existing structures.
  • They also assist with setting up heavy materials like water pipelines for roads and buildings.

How to be an excavator operator?

There are a few steps you must follow to succeed in this career. So, let’s know them here.

  1. Get a high school diploma or equivalent

You need a basic high school diploma to qualify for the courses that teach you the necessary skills for this job.

However, if you don’t have this, pursue its equivalent – a General Educational Development (GED) degree in the US or a Certificate in General Education for Adults (CGEA) in Australia.

This showcases that you have high school-level academic skills and lets you further pursue your dream career.

The equivalent programs usually teach and test you on basic education and principles like:

  • English Language – reading and writing
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

If you’re already employed, you can also opt for night classes to pursue these courses.

However, remember that different states may have different laws. So, connect with local education authorities to enroll in the right adult education program.

  1. Get the necessary license

You also only need an Excavator License from a reputable organization to work. In Australia, this license is not mandatory. However, proving your competency and skills in operating one is important.

Depending on different nations and states, the test may include a written test about road safety and regulations while operating the machine, an on-site driving and operating test, or a mix of both.

In some cases, you may need an additional commercial driving license. So, check the exact licensing requirements for the job role in your locality.

  1. Get proper training

To be successful in this career, you must seek apprenticeship opportunities in the field, sign up for a special training program, or do both.

Training programs will help you learn:

  • The mechanics of the excavator
  • Best operational practices
  • Safety procedures

These programs can be completed in as few as three weeks.

You’ll get on-site excavator operation training if you’re interested in an apprenticeship. You’ll be under expert supervision and may learn great tips and tricks.

  1. Get more experience and certifications

You can seek an excavator job right away after the programs mentioned above. However, if you don’t get great opportunities, apply for entry-level construction work positions.

This ensures you’re not a complete rookie and know the basics well. You’ll be a better candidate for employers with on-field experience.

You can also do these jobs part-time during weekends while pursuing the programs or apprenticeship. This way, you won’t lose time.

If you want a higher role, pursue even more certifications for better career advancement options. Some options are the Certificate of Heavy Equipment Operations and the Adaptable Equipment Proficiency Testing exam.

  1. Level up with your skills

Work on the following skills to advance in your career:

  • Safety skills for yourself and others present at the site
  • Mechanical knowledge about using and repairing the excavator
  • Problem-solving skills regarding mechanical breakdown to minimize damage to the excavator
  • Physical stamina to operate the machine, good vision, and hand-eye coordination
  • Spatial awareness to ensure swift actions with the excavator
  • Attention to detail while using the excavator, material manipulation in a busy construction site


Excavator operator is a rewarding job role, especially with the right skills and passion for your work. So, enroll in the necessary courses right now!

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