Operating Engineers

Architecture & Construction > Construction

Projected Growth: Faster than average

Projected Job Openings

Some Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to Operate one or several types of power construction equipment, such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers, compressors, pumps, derricks, shovels, tractors, or front-end loaders to excavate, move, and grade earth, erect structures, or pour concrete or other hard surface pavement. May repair and maintain equipment in addition to other duties.

Common job titles of Operating Engineers include:

Experience and Education

Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.

  • 66.64% said they needed a High School Diploma.

  • 18.04% said they needed a Post-Secondary Certificate.


    Learn and follow safety regulations.

    Start engines, move throttles, switches, or levers, or depress pedals to operate machines, such as bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, or backhoes.

    Coordinate machine actions with other activities, positioning or moving loads in response to hand or audio signals from crew members.

    Check fuel supplies at sites to ensure adequate availability.

    Monitor operations to ensure that health and safety standards are met.

    Connect hydraulic hoses, belts, mechanical linkages, or power takeoff shafts to tractors.

    Load and move dirt, rocks, equipment, or other materials, using trucks, crawler tractors, power cranes, shovels, graders, or related equipment.

    Take actions to avoid potential hazards or obstructions, such as utility lines, other equipment, other workers, or falling objects.

    Drive and maneuver equipment equipped with blades in successive passes over working areas to remove topsoil, vegetation, or rocks or to distribute and level earth or terrain.

    Operate tractors or bulldozers to perform such tasks as clearing land, mixing sludge, trimming backfills, or building roadways or parking lots.

    Adjust handwheels and depress pedals to control attachments, such as blades, buckets, scrapers, or swing booms.

    Operate loaders to pull out stumps, rip asphalt or concrete, rough-grade properties, bury refuse, or perform general cleanup.

    Locate underground services, such as pipes or wires, prior to beginning work.

    Keep records of material or equipment usage or problems encountered.

    Align machines, cutterheads, or depth gauge makers with reference stakes and guidelines or ground or position equipment, following hand signals of other workers.

    Signal operators to guide movement of tractor-drawn machines.

    Operate compactors, scrapers, or rollers to level, compact, or cover refuse at disposal grounds.

    Compile cost estimates for jobs.

    Turn valves to control air or water output of compressors or pumps.

    Drive tractor-trailer trucks to move equipment from site to site.

    Perform specialized work, using equipment such as pile drivers, dredging rigs, drillers, or concrete pumpers.

    Talk to clients and study instructions, plans, or diagrams to establish work requirements.

    Repair and maintain equipment, making emergency adjustments or assisting with major repairs as necessary.

    Operate equipment to demolish or remove debris or to remove snow from streets, roads, or parking lots.

    Push other equipment when extra traction or assistance is required.

    Test atmosphere for adequate oxygen or explosive conditions when working in confined spaces.

    Select and fasten bulldozer blades or other attachments to tractors, using hitches.

    Operate conveyors to remove grit and debris from digesters.

    Operate road watering, oiling, or rolling equipment, or street sealing equipment, such as chip spreaders.



Wheel loaders


Water pumps

Vibratory compactors


Vertical drills

All Tools

Vacuum pumps

Utility locators

Two-man augers

Two way radios


Turf quakers

Tugger hoists

Truck-mounted generators

Truck trailers

Truck cranes



Travel lifts


Tracked loaders

Tracked hydraulic excavators

Tilt graders

Telescopic forklifts

Tape measures


Tandem axle dump trucks




Snow blowers

Skip loaders

Skid steer machines

Skid steer loaders

Single axle dump trucks

Silent hoists


Shot blasters

Shielded arc welding tools

Sewer rodding machines






Safety gloves

Safety glasses

Safety boots

Runway deicers


Rubber-tired excavators

Roustabout cranes

Ross carriers


Robotic machines

Robotic concrete busters

Road watering equipment

Road finishing machines


Power saws

Power sanders

Power drills

Post hole diggers

Pipe threaders

Pickup trucks


Personal computers

Pavement breakers

Oiling equipment

Multipurpose vacuum catch basin cleaners


Motor graders


Mini excavators

Milling machines

Mechanical sweepers

Measuring wheels


Mainline paint stripers


Laydown machines

Land drilling rigs


Industrial scrapers

Hydraulic telescoping boom utility trucks

Hydraulic jacks

Hydraulic cranes

Hydraulic boom trucks


Heavy duty excavators

Heavy dump trucks



Gutter pavers




Gas welders

Front end loaders


Flatbed trucks

Extender conveyors

End loaders

Ear plugs

Drill presses




Desktop computers


Dempster dumpers

Demolition machines

Cutting torches

Curb pavers


Crawler dozers

Concrete saws

Circular saws

Churn drills

Chip spreaders

Cherry pickers

Chemical-resistant clothing

Chain saws

Cell phones


Bucket attachments

Box scrapers

Blade attachments

Belt loaders

Belly dumpers

Basin machines

Barrier movers


Backhoe attachments


Asphalt spreader boxes

Asphalt pavers

Asphalt compactors

Aquatic weed harvesters

Angle dozers

Air compressors

Aeroil propane kettles

Adjustable wrenches

20-ton tractors

18-ton hydraulic cranes

15-ton truck cranes


Maintenance record software

Work record software


Operation and Control

Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Operation Monitoring

Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Equipment Maintenance

Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.


Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.


Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.

Control Movement Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Control Precision

Coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.

Control Movement Abilities › Psychomotor Abilities › Multilimb Coordination

Judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.

Sensory Abilities › Visual Abilities › Depth Perception

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Occupation Sections


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