Earthmoving Plant Operators operate plant to excavate earth, ore and rock, break up pavement, road, rock and obstructions, move and load earth, rock and debris, and level, smooth and compact surfaces in construction and other projects.

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job. Around one in three workers have Years 11 and 10 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary. Registration or licensing is required.

Tasks

  • preparing and positioning plant for operation
  • selecting, fitting and removing attachments such as buckets, winches, loading scoops, shovel blades and rock breaking hammers
  • operating controls to excavate, break, drill, level, compact, gouge out, move, load and spread earth, rock, rubble, soil and other materials
  • monitoring operation of plant and adjusting controls to regulate pressure, speed and flow of operation, and ensuring safety of other workers
  • raising, lowering and manipulating attachments using manual and hydraulic controls
  • working from drawings, markers and verbal instructions
  • servicing, lubricating, cleaning and refuelling plant and performing minor adjustments and repairs

Job Titles

  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)
  • Backhoe Operator
  • Bulldozer Operator
  • Excavator Operator
  • Grader Operator
  • Loader Operator
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General) (also called Construction Plant Operator)

    Operates a range of earthmoving plant to assist with building roads, rail, water supply, dams, treatment plants and agricultural earthworks. Registration or licensing is required.

  • Backhoe Operator

    Operates a backhoe and attachments to excavate, break, drill, level and compact earth, rock and other material. Registration or licensing is required.

  • Bulldozer Operator

    Operates a bulldozer using blades and other attachments to gouge out, level and move materials in construction, forestry, mining and other projects. Registration or licensing is required.

    Specialisations: Scraper Operator (Earthmoving)

  • Excavator Operator

    Operates heavy excavation plant to excavate, move and load earth, rock and rubble. Registration or licensing is required.

    Specialisations: Hydraulic Rockbreaker Operator, Trench Digging Machine Operator

  • Grader Operator

    Operates a grader to spread and level materials in construction projects. Registration or licensing is required.

  • Loader Operator

    Operates a motorised loader to move and load soil, rock and other material. Registration or licensing is required.

    Specialisations: Bobcat Operator, Front-end Loader Operator

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $1,489 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    decline
  • Skill Level

    Certificate II or III
  • Employment Size

    42,200
  • Unemployment

    below average
  • Male Share

    97.8%
  • Female Share

    2.2%
  • Full-Time Share

    92.3%

Find Vacancies

This is a large occupation employing 42,200 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has fallen.
A fall in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 10,001 and 25,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • Earthmoving Plant Operators work in most parts of Australia.
  • They mainly work in: Construction; Mining; and Public Administration and Safety.
  • Almost all work full-time. Full-time workers, on average, work 42.4 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $1,489 per week (higher than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The average age is 44 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 5 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • More than 9 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was below average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
200544700
200649500
200753000
200846600
200953300
201051200
201151000
201251100
201352300
201446800
201542200
202035700

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsEarthmoving Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings14891230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryEarthmoving Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
Full-time92.368.4
Part-time7.731.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)42.440.0

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Construction68.8
Mining8.9
Public Administration and Safety4.7
Manufacturing4.0
Other Industries13.6

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateEarthmoving Plant OperatorsAll Jobs Average
NSW29.731.8
VIC23.125.5
QLD22.119.8
SA5.66.8
WA13.611.2
TAS3.42.0
NT1.61.1
ACT1.01.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketEarthmoving Plant OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-191.6-5.45.4
20-243.5-9.99.9
25-3421.7-23.423.4
35-4425.9-21.721.7
45-5424.4-21.121.1
55-5911.3-8.78.7
60-646.6-5.95.9
65 and Over5.1-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryEarthmoving Plant OperatorsCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males97.8Males53.6
Females2.2Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationEarthmoving Plant OperatorsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate0.0-8.68.6
Bachelor degree5.1-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma3.4-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV26.3-18.918.9
Year 1227.7-18.718.7
Years 11 & 1034.8-17.717.7
Below Year 102.7-8.18.1

A Certificate II or III, or at least 1 year of relevant experience, is usually needed to work in this job.
Around one in three workers have Years 11 and 10 as their highest level of education. Even with a qualification, sometimes experience or on-the-job training is necessary. Registration or licensing is required.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Earthmoving Plant Operators who are reliable and hardworking.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Building and Construction

    72% Important

    Materials, methods, and the tools used to construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

  2. Mechanical

    70% Important

    Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

  3. Administration and Management

    59% Important

    Planning and coordination of people and resources.

  4. Public Safety and Security

    58% Important

    Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.

  5. Mathematics

    55% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

Occupational Information Network Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Operating Vehicles or Equipment

    95% Important

    Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.

  2. Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material

    91% Important

    Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.

  3. Getting Information

    84% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

  4. Controlling Machines and Processes

    81% Important

    Operate machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).

  5. Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings

    81% Important

    Checking objects, actions, or events, keeping an eye out for problems.

Occupational Information Network Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

go to top