Heavy Equipment Operators (except Crane)

(NOC 7521)

in All Trades and Transportation

Heavy equipment operators operate heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports, gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures; in surface mining and quarrying activities; and in material handling work. They are employed by construction companies, heavy equipment contractors, public works departments and pipeline, logging, cargo-handling and other companies.

Job Outlook

Average

Read more

  • Estimate decline employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 80 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2016

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

  • Estimate Decline slightly employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 3400 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate High rate of unemployment in 2016

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to decline moderately over the next few years, which will likely limit the number of new opportunities available. With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Heavy Equipment Operators (except Crane) most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. With employment conditions being seasonal in nature, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year are fairly common. Also, a fair portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

The median employment income for 42% of Heavy Equipment Operators (except Crane) who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $53,931. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$16.00

Minimum

$21.88

Median

$25.22

Maximum

Annual Pay

$12,360

Minimum

$44,588

Median

$86,172

Maximum

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

Hourly Pay

$13.00

Minimum

$20.35

Median

$34.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$7,580

Minimum

$37,269

Median

$79,787

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Heavy equipment operators operate heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports, gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures; in surface mining and quarrying activities; and in material handling work. They are employed by construction companies, heavy equipment contractors, public works departments and pipeline, logging, cargo-handling and other companies.

Job duties

such as backhoes, bulldozers, loaders and graders to excavate, move, load and grade earth, rock, gravel or other materials during construction and related activities.

  • Operate bulldozers or other heavy equipment to clear brush and stumps prior to logging activities and to build roads at logging and surface mining sites.
  • Operate heavy equipment with pile driver head to drive piling into earth to provide support for buildings, bridges or other structures.
  • Operate heavy dredging equipment to deepen waterways or reclaim earth fill.
  • Operate heavy paving and surfacing equipment to lay, spread or compact concrete, asphalt and other surface materials during highway and road construction.
  • Operate power shovels to excavate rock, ore or other materials from open-pit mines, strip mines, quarries or construction pits.
  • Operate heavy equipment to move, load and unload cargo.
  • Conduct pre-operational checks on equipment and clean, lubricate and refill equipment.

Sample job titles

  • asphalt-paving machine operator
  • backhoe operator
  • construction equipment operator
  • dozer operator
  • excavator operator
  • heavy equipment operator
  • heavy-duty equipment operator
  • road grader operator

Skills

To work in these jobs, you should have good health, physical stamina, and strength. Agility, coordination, and a mechanical aptitude would be helpful. You must also be able to take direction and carry out instructions given by supervisors.

Job requirements

  • Some high school education is required.
  • Completion of a one- to two-year apprenticeship program or some high school, college or industry courses in heavy equipment operating combined with on-the-job training are required.
  • Internal company certification may be required by some employers.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) is also available to qualified Heavy Equipment Operators (Dozer, Excavator and Tractor-Loader-Backhoe) upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination.

Other considerations

Work in these jobs tends to be seasonal, with employment usually peaking in the summer months and declining during the winter months. Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

By the numbers

Quick look

2,345

employed in 2016

94.2%

employed full-time

7.2%

self employed

2.2%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
97.8%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
47.2

median age

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

57,925

employed in 2016

88.8%

employed full-time

12.7%

self employed

5.3%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
94.7%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

22.8%

Northern

22.8%

Cape Breton

19.3%

Annapolis Valley

18.7%

Halifax

16.2%

Southern

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

Northern

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

58.8%

Construction

10.2%

Public Administration

4.9%

Mining (except O/G)

4.5%

Management, Admin & Other Support

3.2%

Transportation and Warehousing

What is the age of Employment?

25.2%

45-54

24.0%

55-64

21.9%

35-44

17.3%

25-34

6.1%

15-24

5.6%

65+

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

34.1%

45-54

33.0%

35-44

18.7%

55-64

13.2%

25-34

Top levels of education

29.7%

High school

$45,780 median annual income
28.6%

Less than high school

$38,782 median annual income
24.3%

Trades certificate

$46,233 median annual income
15.9%

College certificate or diploma

$45,826 median annual income
1.0%

University certificate or diploma

$47,920 median annual income

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

29.4%

Trades certificate

$40,890 median annual income
25.5%

High school

$28,089 median annual income
22.6%

College certificate or diploma

$39,023 median annual income
18.2%

Less than high school

$25,753 median annual income
2.7%

Bachelor's degree

$36,972 median annual income

Education & training

Adult high school/secondary diploma programs

This program is typically offered at the high school level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Siège Social: 1695, Route 1

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0

(902) 769-2114

Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus

50 Elliott Road

Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0

(902) 825-3491

Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus

PO Box 550, 1 Main Street

Springhill, NS B0M 1X0

(902) 597-3737

Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus

21 Woodlawn Road

Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7

(902) 491-4900

Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus

372 Pleasant Street

Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2

(902) 742-3501

Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus

236 Belcher Street

Kentville, NS B4N 0A6

(902) 678-7341

Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus

75 High Street

Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8

(902) 543-4608

Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus

5685 Leeds Street

Halifax, NS B3K 2T3

(902) 491-6722

Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries

PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue

Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0

(902) 752-2002

Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus

PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road

Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0

(902) 875-8640

Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute

226 Reeves Street

Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2

(902) 625-2380

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road

Sydney, NS B1P 6J7

(902) 563-2450

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

36 Arthur Street

Truro, NS B2N 1X5

(902) 893-5385

Construction/heavy equipment/earthmoving equipment operation

This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to operate and maintain a variety of heavy equipment, such as crawler tractors, motor graders and scrapers, shovels, rigging devices, hoists, and jacks. These programs include courses in digging, ditching, sloping, stripping, grading, and backfilling, clearing and excavating.

Institutions providing this program

McKenzie College

74 Townsend Street

Sydney, NS B1P 5C8

(902) 562-8549

Maritime Environmental Training Institute

301 Alexandra Street

Sydney, NS B1S 2E8

(902) 539-9766

Commercial Safety College

Highway #2, Masstown PO Box 848

Truro, NS B2N 5G6

(902) 662-2190

Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute

226 Reeves Street

Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2

(902) 625-2380

Apprenticeship Training

Department of Labour and Advanced Education 2021 Brunswick Street, PO Box 578

Halifax, NS B3J 2S9

(800) 494-5651

Operating Engineers Investment Limited

251 Brownlow Avenue

Dartmouth, NS B3B 2A9

(902) 865-8844

South Shore Training Centre

320 Logan Road

Bridgewater, NS B4V 5J8

(902) 521-2443

Dexter Institute

927 Rocky Lake Dr, Po Box 48100

Bedford, NS B4A 3Z2

(902) 832-6391

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Heavy Equipment Operators

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This job is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, however, a certificate is not needed to legally work in this job.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
2021 Brunswick Street, PO Box 578
Halifax, NS B3J 2S9
(800) 494-5651
(902) 424-0717

Contacts

BuildForce Canada
220 Laurier Avenue West, Suite 1150
Ottawa, ON K1P 5Z9
Tel: (613) 569-5552
Fax: (613) 569-1220
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council
10 Ragged Lake Blvd. Unit 1
Halifax, NS B3S 1C2
Tel: (902) 832-4761
Fax: (902) 832-4763
Red Seal
c/o Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency PO Box 578
Halifax, B3J 2S9
Tel: (902) 424-5651
Fax: (902) 424-0717

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