As an excavator operator you would be responsible for the efficient and safe operation of excavators to dig, load and move rock, earth or other materials. You would play a vital part in the construction, repair and maintenance of bridges, roads and airports, oil and gas pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures as well as material handling, surface mining and quarrying activities. You would likely be employed by heavy equipment contractors, logging, pipeline and construction companies.
While the size of the equipment may seem daunting initially, excavator operators often say it becomes easier than driving a car. Supervisors will often rotate staff on various pieces of equipment during training wherever possible so that operators can familiarise themselves with a range of earthmoving machines. Working conditions for excavator operators can be noisy, hot, dusty or muddy but most earthmoving machines do have air conditioned and sound proofed cabs for the benefit of the operator.
A key part of the role is to prepare the machines for operation which might include selecting, changing and operating special attachments like winches, rippers, scrub clearers, pile drivers and rock breaking hammers. Operators may also need to load and unload equipment from low loaders around the worksite. Other typical duties include working from drawings and markers, taking directions from supervisors and engineers, backfilling trenches and breaking up rock, paving and similar material with pneumatic or hydraulic breakers.