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

  • $1,489 Weekly Pay
  • 46,400 workers Employment Size
  • Stable Future Growth
  • Lower skill Skill level rating
  • Average unemployment Unemployment
  • 92.1% Full-Time Full-Time Share
  • 44.8 hours Average full-time
  • 46 years Average age
  • 3.3% female Gender Share

The number of Earthmoving Plant Operators fell over the past 5 years and is expected to stay about the same over the next 5 years:
from 46,400 in 2018 to 46,600 by 2023.
Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
There are likely to be around 30,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 6,000 a year).

  • Size: This is a large occupation.
  • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2017.
  • Location: Earthmoving Plant Operators work in most regions of Australia.
  • Industries: Most work in Construction; Mining; and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services.
  • Earnings: Full-time workers earn 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.
  • Full-time: Most work full-time (92.1%, much higher than the all jobs average of 68.4%) showing part-time work may be hard to find.
  • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 44.8 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
  • Age: The average age is 46 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years). Many workers are 45 years or older (52.4%).
  • Gender: 3.3% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
YearNumber of Workers
200853200
200946000
201058400
201150500
201247900
201349700
201450500
201546300
201640300
201746700
201846400
202346600

Weekly Earnings

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

Main Industries

Main Employing Industries (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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)
Construction66.6
Mining13.5
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services3.6
Public Administration and Safety2.7
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 2017, 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
NSW35.431.6
VIC16.526.2
QLD21.319.7
SA5.96.7
WA16.110.8
TAS3.62.0
NT0.81.1
ACT0.51.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% Share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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
15-191.0-5.25.2
20-245.5-9.99.9
25-3416.9-23.623.6
35-4424.3-21.721.7
45-5422.6-20.820.8
55-5912.2-8.88.8
60-6411.5-6.06.0
65 and Over6.1-4.04.0

Education Level

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 Certificate0-8.68.6
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.

Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

  • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
  • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
  • You might be interested in Transport and Logistics Training Package VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

Knowledge

These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 47-2073.00 - Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators.

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

These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

  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
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 47-2073.00 - Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment Operators.

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