Great Jobs KC

Operating Engineers

What is it?

An operating engineer, also known as a heavy equipment operator, is a skilled professional who plays a crucial role in various construction projects by operating, maintaining, and repairing heavy machinery. They are responsible for utilizing a wide range of equipment to perform diverse tasks throughout the construction process, from initial site preparation to final touches.

Here’s a breakdown of some key responsibilities of an operating engineer:

Operating Heavy Machinery:

  • Earthmoving equipment: This includes operating bulldozers, excavators, graders, loaders, and scrapers to perform tasks like clearing land, digging trenches, leveling surfaces, and moving earth materials.
  • Concrete and paving equipment: Operating concrete mixers, pavers, and other equipment for pouring concrete foundations, slabs, roads, and other structures.
  • Material handling equipment: Utilizing cranes, hoists, forklifts, and other equipment to lift, transport, and place various materials like steel beams, pipes, and construction supplies.
  • Other specialized equipment: Depending on the specific project and the company they work for, operating engineers may operate additional equipment like pile drivers, dredges, generators, and compressors.

Additional responsibilities:

They conduct routine maintenance checks on their assigned equipment to ensure it functions properly and safely.

Operating engineers may be able to diagnose and address minor equipment issues to keep projects moving smoothly.

Adhering to strict safety regulations and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is paramount for their safety and the safety of others on the job site.

They work effectively with other construction professionals like engineers, surveyors, and laborers to ensure various tasks are coordinated and completed efficiently.

  • Building construction (residential and commercial)
  • Highway and road construction
  • Bridge construction
  • Utility installation (water, sewer, gas)
  • Tunneling and excavation
  • Demolition projects

* Salary Range

$44,700 - $79,100

(entry level – experienced)

* Regional Jobs Available


(3 year forecast)

Length of Training

4 weeks

Type of Training

In Person

Is it Right For You?

Here are some essential skills and qualities for success as an operating engineer:

  • Strong manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination: Precise control is crucial for operating complex machinery safely and effectively.
  • Mechanical aptitude and understanding of machinery: A basic understanding of how the equipment functions, troubleshooting potential issues, and performing basic maintenance are essential.
  • Spatial reasoning and depth perception: These are necessary for maneuvering large equipment accurately in tight spaces and around obstacles.
  • Physical fitness and stamina: The job can be physically demanding, requiring long hours of operating machinery and potentially working in various weather conditions.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team: They work independently while operating equipment but also collaborate effectively within a team environment.
  • Problem-solving skills: Identifying and resolving issues that arise during operation or performing minor repairs requires good problem-solving abilities.
  • Strong communication skills: Clear communication with other workers is crucial for ensuring safety and project coordination.
  • Adherence to safety regulations: Maintaining a safety-oriented mindset and following all safety protocols is vital.

Overall, operating engineers play a vital role in the construction industry, utilizing their expertise and skills in operating a diverse range of heavy machinery to contribute to the efficient and safe completion of various construction projects.

* Pay Range Data: Occupational Employment Wages Statistics (OEWS). 2023-Q3.
* Demand: Forecast data is based off national projections provided by the BoLS and adapted for regional growth patterns by Chmura.