Operator Career Path
How To Become an OperatorAn operator works with heavy machinery to complete manufacturing tasks and work in a variety of industries. If you have the physical strength and strong problem-solving skills, you might consider working as an operator. In this article, we discuss the required steps to become an operator.
Earn a high school diploma or GED.
To work as an operator, you need at least a high school diploma or GED before you can enter an apprenticeship or technical school since all schools require this. If you can, enroll in any vocational training courses while you're still in high school. Try to take courses that focus on mathematics and auto technology. If possible, enroll in a private vocational school that offers programs for heavy equipment operators. You could also earn an associate degree or certificate in heavy equipment operation.
What type of degree should you pursue to become an Operator?
53% of people working as an Operator earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be an Operator?
- RADAR Systems
- Aircraft Systems
- Attention To Detail
- Computer Literate
- Excellent Communication
- English Language
Complete heavy equipment training.
You have several ways of obtaining heavy equipment training so you can gain first-hand experience working with the equipment. By entering a union or state apprenticeship program, you can gain on-the-job training as well as have an opportunity to secure employment at the end of the program. These programs are usually open to students who have little to no experience, and they take three to four years to complete. Another option is to enroll in college or a technical school that gives licensing and technical training.
Determine your specialty.
Generally, you need to have an idea about what type of equipment you'd like to operate. You likely won't be permanently attached to that specific type of heavy machinery, but at least you'll establish a goal to work toward. Knowing the type of machinery or field will give you clarity about what sector of the industry offers operator jobs for that type of equipment. For instance, if you want limited travel and prefer a set schedule, working at a scrap yard or for a local municipality might work better for you.
Obtain licenses or certifications.
Depending on the type of job and employer, operators might need a certificate or license to operate machinery. For instance, if you want to work as a crane operator, you need a state license or certification from a nationally accredited organization. Certifications generally last five years, and to keep them active, you may need to complete continuing education requirements. Maintaining licensure and certification can ensure you have steady work and qualify for promotions.
Get a commercial driver's license.
To work as an operator of heavy machinery, you might also be required to drive trucks and trailers that transport large equipment from one job site to another. To do this safely and properly, you will need a commercial driver's license (CDL). Although having a CDL isn't a requirement to work as an operator, many employers prefer candidates who can operate any type of equipment or truck. The requirements vary from state to state, but you might be able to earn a CDL through certain apprenticeship programs or at technical schools.
Operator Career Path
Contribute to GlassdoorEverything you add helps others find a job and company they'll love.
Related careers in the Operations Industry
Interested in other Operations careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Operator skills. Discover some of the most common Operator career transitions, along with skills overlap.