Heavy equipment operators are essential for building roads, constructing skyscrapers, building new airports or repairing existing runways, damming a river and constructing a new housing development. They operate machinery like bulldozers, which may be equipped with different front attachments for the work to be done. They drive and operate road graders for the construction of roads and highways. They operate other road equipment, such as asphalt spreaders. Heavy equipment operators work on construction sites as well as in support of mining operations and for local and state government agencies. Although questions vary, some are typical during interviews.
Are You Available to Work Weekends, Holidays or Nights?
Many times work can be done only at night when there is less traffic on the highways or bridges. Traffic doesn't include just vehicles; some work must be done when there is light to no pedestrian traffic because of safety concerns. Because of working deadlines, some work must be done on weekends and holidays.
What is Your Familiarity With the Technology Involved?
Because of the advancements in technology, some heavy equipment machinery is equipped with computerized systems that assist the operator. Some of today's heavy equipment have complicated electronics that require advanced and up-to-date training. The different systems that operate and move heavy equipment require knowledge that is current for the always changing technology.
What is Your Training and Experience?
Many heavy equipment operators learn the trade through on-the-job training. Some go through apprenticeship training programs that may last three or four years. These programs typically require at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Some trade unions and contractor associations offer apprenticeship programs to workers who are at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
What Licenses and Certifications do You Have?
Some vocational schools offer training in heavy equipment operation with certain certifications obtained within the training course. A commercial driver's license is often required to operate heavy equipment, and some states require specialized licenses to operate certain pieces of equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers and pile drivers.
Do You Know How to Perform Routine Maintenance on Equipment?
Before any heavy equipment machinery is operated, it must be checked for safe and efficient operation. This is typically done on a routine daily basis and sometimes at each shift change. The operator may have to perform routine maintenance or checks.