Bulldozers, backhoes, power shovels, graders, heavy-haul trucks,
buggies and scrapers. If you've dreamed of operating equipment like
this since you were a kid, a job as a Heavy Equipment Operator may
be for you!
Imagine yourself in the driver's seat of a dozer, scraper or
grader. You'd be preparing the area for open-pit surface mining by
removing the muskeg and dirt over the oil sands deposit. Can you
see yourself at the controls of the biggest truck in the world or
operating a giant shovel to remove and transport ore?
Heavy Equipment Operators clear land for buildings or pipeline
construction, support maintenance activities and do site
reclamations. They play a key role in oil sands mining
Do you want a challenging work environment where every day is
different? Do you think it might be fun to operate big, rugged
equipment? Can you work as part of a team on a fast-paced job site?
If so, read on to find out more about this interesting career!
What does a Heavy Equipment Operator do?
Heavy Equipment Operators use mobile machines and attachments to
excavate, grade and landscape earth or move materials and
equipment. Some operators work with several types of equipment
while others may choose to specialize. The typical roles in this
- Bulldozer Operators:
Operate crawler-tractors equipped with large front blades to move
obstacles and back rippers to tear up terrain. They clear and level
dirt, sand, rock and gravel on construction and mining sites, and
push other equipment.
- Back-hoe Operators or
Excavators: Use rubber-tired or track equipment to dig
holes, trenches and ditches. They load, scoop and dump heavy
materials, vibrate and break rock, back-fill excavations, and level
- Front-end Loader or Power
Shovel Operators: Operate rubber-tired or tracked
equipment with movable arms and tilting buckets. They pick up heavy
loads of earth, rock, sand, gravel, ore or snow, and dump material
into piles, excavations or trucks.
- Grader Operators:
Control the height and angle of grader blades to spread and level
earth, sand, gravel, rock and snow. They carve ditches and slopes.
They work as a team while making successive passes over working
- Heavy Haul Truckers:
Operate electric and diesel trucks on oil sands mining sites to
transport ore. They fuel and lubricate the vehicle and do safety
checks before using it.
- Motor Scraper or Buggy
Operators: Operate the fastest shovel on wheels to scrape,
load, dump and spread earth. They level work areas, haul soil for
roads and right-of-ways andhaul ore at surface mining
How do I become a Heavy Equipment Operator?
At minimum, you must have a high school diploma. Experience
working in an open-pit mine environment, operating heavy equipment
in an industrial environment, or driving trucks with trailers on
highways is ideal. In the oil sands, you'll likely start as a
helper, labourer or a truck driver. With experience and on the-job
training, you can advance to larger and more complicated
A Class 5 driver's license is usually required. You may need to
pass a medical exam, pre-employment drug screening test or aptitude
What are the working conditions like?
The standard work week is 40 hours but some jobs may involve
rotating shifts and overtime. Safety precautions and protective
equipment such as safety boots, gloves, hard hats, glasses and
hearing protection are required. Working environments may consist
of noise, dust, dirt and inclement weather. You may sit for long
periods on machinery. You might lift items weighing up to 20
Do I fit the bill?
Do you think you have what it takes to become a Heavy
- I like to drive large
- I have mechanical
- I like the satisfaction of building
- I take a methodical approach to my
work, and am good at trouble-shooting problems.
- I have the ability to concentrate in
a fast-paced work environment.
- I can stay alert while I perform
- I can judge distances.
- I am in excellent physical
- I have good hand-eye and hand-foot
coordination, and fast reflexes.
- I have good hearing and
- I have good communication
- I am good at following
- I enjoy working outdoors.
- I can work alone and in
- I can work a variety of shifts and
- Safety is important to me and I'm
committed to following and adhering to all safety
- I think a career as a Heavy Equipment
Operator is exciting and I'm up for the challenge and
Quick tips and next steps!
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