How to Become a Bulldozer Operator

Do you want to learn to drive a bulldozer? This is a specialized skill that requires you to have steady hands so you can operate large and heavy equipment. Safety is paramount in this trade, so bulldozer operators require extensive on-the-job training to ensure they’re abiding by the necessary protocols. If you’ve got excellent hand-eye coordination and a knack for machinery, this may be a good job for you.

Bulldozer Operator Job Description

The key duty of a bulldozer operator is to maneuver and control heavy machinery, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These machines are used to build roads, buildings, bridges, dams, runways and more. Bulldozer operators are responsible for maintaining their machine, reporting any malfunctions to their supervisor and making small repairs when required. It’s critical that the heavy equipment is always working properly for safety reasons.

Bulldozer operators typically work with a construction crew. It’s critical to communicate their actions to the team so that everyone is aware of what is happening on the construction site. A bulldozer operator may use hand or audio signals to inform their crew of what they will be doing next with their machine. They may also share bulldozer tips and techniques with other operators on the site.

According to the bureau, the median salary for construction equipment workers was $48,160 in May 2019. The top 10 percent of earners made over $84,650, while the lowest 10 percent made less than $31,780. According to Indeed, the average hourly wage of a bulldozer operator is $21.29.

Bulldozer Operator Training and Education Requirements

The basic education required to be a bulldozer operator is a high school diploma, according to the bureau. However, employers may require additional education, such as courses in math and auto mechanics, which help operators to maintain their own equipment. In addition, bulldozer operators may be required to attend a vocational school where they can specialize in their heavy equipment.

A lot of the training to become a bulldozer operator is hands-on at the construction site. Some operators work with an experienced crew member to learn the specifics of their bulldozer. Others may be required to complete apprentice programs, which can last three to four years. As part of their training, bulldozer operators learn how to maintain and fix their equipment as well as the safety practices they need to abide by. In addition, in some states' bulldozer operators may need a commercial license or a special heavy equipment license.

Bulldozer Operator Industry

The majority of bulldozer operators work in the heavy and civil engineering construction industry, while another large percentage work with specialty trade contractors. A small amount of bulldozer operators work for local governments, in mining and oil and gas extraction, as well as in building construction.

Regardless of the industry they work in, bulldozer operators need to be able to work in any kind of weather. While construction is usually halted during heavy rain or snow, bulldozer operators need to be prepared to get muddy, wet or dusty on the job. Sometimes, bulldozer operators may be required to work odd hours, such as early mornings or late nights, based on the schedule of the project.

Bulldozer Operator Growth Trend

According to the bureau, the employment of construction equipment operators is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2018 and 2028. This is double the growth of all occupations, which are projected to grow by 5 percent.

Bulldozer operators are most likely to find jobs in metropolitan areas where construction is growing. There are also better job prospects during the spring, summer and fall, when construction booms. Depending on the climate, construction projects may be on pause during the winter, and as a result there may not be any bulldozer operator jobs available during that time.