Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
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Unit Group

7521 Heavy equipment operators (except crane)

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.

Example Titles

backhoe operator
bulldozer operator
excavator operator
gradall operator
grader operator
heavy equipment operator
heavy equipment operator apprentice
loader operator – construction
side boom tractor operator
surface mining equipment operator

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Main duties


Heavy equipment operators perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Operate heavy equipment 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.

Employment requirements

  • Some secondary 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.
  • Trade certification is compulsory in Quebec and available, but voluntary, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • Internal company certification may be required by some employers.

Additional information

  • Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

Classified elsewhere

  • Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews (7302)
  • Crane operators (7371)
  • Forklift and industrial truck operators (in 7452 Material handlers )
  • Logging machinery operators (8241)
  • Underground production and development miners (8231)

Classification Structure - 7