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Host

What are the top 3 traits or skills every heavy equipment operator must have to excel?

Can you suggest any tips or insights to develop your heavy equipment operator expertise?

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gemini526 in Auburn, Washington

93 months ago

keith said: must have good depyh perseption,good hand eye coordination,be able to think ahead
and able to pass 5th grade spelling (depth, perception)

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Jack M. in Jolley, Iowa

92 months ago

Could you tell me, please, how the stakes or laghfs, read on site, and I mean any site...

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craig in Greenbrier, Tennessee

91 months ago

could someone tell do these schools matter all that much if so which ones are the considered the best thank you for your help

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Don Gainey in Fort Campbell, Kentucky

91 months ago

Wow! I'm just looking in to this field and the competition looks very weak.I figured you would need a college degree! Does anyone know what the average pay is? I'm Trying to figure out if this is the carreer for me or not need to make at least 80 a year

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Emma (Host) in Stamford, Connecticut

91 months ago

Try doing some searches on the Indeed Salary Search. Here is one I did for Heavy Equipment Operator:
www.indeed.com/salary?q1=heavy+equipment+operator&l1=&tm=1

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Joe in Irving, Texas

91 months ago

Don Gainey said: Wow! I'm just looking in to this field and the competition looks very weak.I figured you would need a college degree! Does anyone know what the average pay is? I'm Trying to figure out if this is the carreer for me or not need to make at least 80 a year
You are wrong when you say the compition is weak. There is a lot of comp out there and very good operators. I have been operating equipment for 25 yrs. I have been told that I am one of the best by people all over the country. because I take pride in my work. as far as the pay where you live you will be lucky to make 30K a year You have to be damn good to make any money, and its not something your born with. Its takes practice. I have spent many years chasing big money and sometimes it pays.

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Joe in Irving, Texas

91 months ago

Jack M. said: Could you tell me, please, how the stakes or laghfs, read on site, and I mean any site...
Grade stakes are read verticaly and in tenths of a foot either cut or fill, measured off the hub elevation next to the stake.

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Joe in Irving, Texas

91 months ago

Host said: What are the top 3 traits or skills every heavy equipment operator must have to excel?
Can you suggest any tips or insights to develop your heavy equipment operator expertise?
you must have the ability to see the finished product before you start. I have always told my operators "you cant build it if you cant see it". The ability to read grade and to know what is really flat from one side to the other most of all in sloping areas

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Don Gainey in Fort Campbell, Kentucky

91 months ago

Joe Thank you. I didnt say the compettion was weak I only said from what i was reading it looked weak.I apologize.30k is the average pay? Thats below poverty levels for a family man; guess I will seek out a higher yeild carrer.That equals about 15.50 an hour.Is this average for HE operator?I am a military man on his way out trying to find a carrer I move on to.Im not the best at searching the web to find answers,Hope some one can clear it up for me hear.

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Yvette, Phoenix, AZ in Phoenix, Arizona

91 months ago

Three traits an operator should possess are the ability to read prints/plans, grade stakes, and be knowledgable about the equipment they are operating eg. to maintain/service their equipment.

I started out on the ground, chasing stakes, dump girl, shoveling, booting stakes etc. Then moved on to small equipment like rollers, scrapers C613 and gannon tractors are good practice if you want to get the feel of the different types of soils and conditions. Listen to the seasoned, journeymen they learned all the tricks of the trade. Just like Bo said you need to have a bubble in your ass...feel the gravity. It just doesn't happen over night or a few weeks for that matter...learn from your mistakes.

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Anonymously

91 months ago

Don Gainey said: Wow! I'm just looking in to this field and the competition looks very weak.I figured you would need a college degree! Does anyone know what the average pay is? I'm Trying to figure out if this is the carreer for me or not need to make at least 80 a year
It depends on what State you work in.
If you are a finish Operator, if you are union.
If you become a supervisor. If you like the work go for it.

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Anonymously

91 months ago

Jack Mich said:

What is the number one thing to be a good bulldozer operator? Is it putting the blade on the ground 1st., or is is it watching one side of the tilted blade? I was alwas told, and have tried to master it, and it was said to me,"run the dozer by your butt, and this will create a feel for the machine". Know was I miss lead, and is there an easier way?????????? Thank-you very much... Jack(dirt-boy)mich

You were told correct run the machine by the sit of your pants. If I understand your first question,
watching one side of the blade is the answer. Take pride in your work, and Practice will help you become a better dozer hand. Good Luck!!

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Joe in New Orleans, Louisiana

91 months ago

Don Gainey said: Joe Thank you. I didnt say the compettion was weak I only said from what i was reading it looked weak.I apologize.30k is the average pay? Thats below poverty levels for a family man; guess I will seek out a higher yeild carrer.That equals about 15.50 an hour.Is this average for HE operator?I am a military man on his way out trying to find a carrer I move on to.Im not the best at searching the web to find answers,Hope some one can clear it up for me hear.
If you want to seek heavy equipment, go for it You need to find the higher paying states. East or west coast pays the highest. Prevailing wage in California is 49 an hour. thats where im at now. 100k a year. they pay for expierenced operators. do you have expierence? but there is also winter layoff which drives me up the wall. I would rather be working.

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charles from detroit in Detroit, Michigan

91 months ago

Joe said: If you want to seek heavy equipment, go for it You need to find the higher paying states. East or west coast pays the highest. Prevailing wage in California is 49 an hour. thats where im at now. 100k a year. they pay for expierenced operators. do you have expierence? but there is also winter layoff which drives me up the wall. I would rather be working.
ok joe,i'm trying to move between san diego and L.A. is that a hot spot for contruction and when u say u make 49 an hr,does that iclude that having your cdl because i've been a truck driver 4 the last 6 yrs? But i'm looking for a new career and i'm not greedy but as long as i can take home atleast 1000 to 1400 like i doing after taxes then sign me up. if u don't wan tthe info passed around,email me at thanks [Edited by Host] Contact info deleted

Please do not post Contact info in the forums.
If you would like to set up a profile please go here to log in
www.indeed.com/my/profile

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Kurt in Alaska in Valdez, Alaska

88 months ago

I'm not too sure what the pay is outside but here in Alaska a beginning salary for the state is roughly 48K to 60K depending on overtime. To work for 302 in Alaska would be roughly 20% more per hour however winter work can be hard to find.

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Tyler in The big AK State, Homer Alaska in Homer, Alaska

87 months ago

Traits an operator should possess are the ability to read prints/plans, grade stakes, and be knowledgeable about the equipment they are operating e.g. to maintain/service their equipment. Also was said is to have a (bubble) in your butt. Now this may sound very strange but for operating bulldozers or really any equipment, you have to feel it. I'm not too sure what the pay is outside but here in Alaska a beginning salary for the state is roughly 48K to 60K depending on overtime. To work for 302 in Alaska would be roughly 20% more per hour however winter work can be hard to find.

Im a student at homer high and here are some things that i found on this site that i thought interesting, Im working to become a Heavy equipment operator and by what they say down in the states i would rather stay up in Alaska, My grandfarther was in this profession for 20+ years and im kinda fallowing his foot steps, He was lucky and was taught by a friend how to use equipment and rolled along with the crew. He came to homer and became one of the top dogs for working for the city. I have to go to a vocational school about 100 miles from my home which is not bad. I just stating my story and how the younger generation is really going into these jobs email me if you have comments lazy_boy502@hotmail.com i would love to hear them about becoming or being a heavy equipment operator, Thank you for your time.

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dozerdan in Las Vegas, Nevada

83 months ago

Do you show up to work on time? Are you Sober? Do you know it all?

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Alberto in Los Angeles, California

83 months ago

Dozerdan, it's guys like you that make my job of firing your butt hard. Grow up and post some good stuff here.

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bill in Phoenix, Arizona

83 months ago

must also be able to spell at a third grade level. Oh wait nevermind I have been proven wrong.

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Hank in Dallas, Texas

83 months ago

1) show up to work on time 2) Don't be a cowboy operator 3) Know your limitations and your skill level. Don't tell me your the best operator when you know you are not. I hate that.

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Charles in Jacksonville, Florida

81 months ago

This is simple!
1.) Did they hate their last job?
2.) Do they get hurt?
2.) Do they know everything?

If they answer "yes" to any of the above then DON"T HIRE THEM!

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Kenneth Wilson in Tampa, Florida

81 months ago

Host said: What are the top 3 traits or skills every heavy equipment operator must have to excel?

Can you suggest any tips or insights to develop your heavy equipment operator expertise?

Safety, eye coordination and alertness

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digdug in Newark, New Jersey

81 months ago

Jack M. in Jolley, Iowa said: Could you tell me, please, how the stakes or laghfs, read on site, and I mean any site...

Stakes are the lifeline of a site/project.They are directly related to the cut sheet.Therefore if you don't have a cut sheet ,you won't be able to interpret the number/symbol on the stake unless somebody like lets say your foreman/supervisor takes his time to transfer the cut or fill that is required for that particular stake on the stake itself.Basicly a stake lets you know what you have to do with the dirt or material that your using to conform to the elevation of that stake,let it be a cut or a fill.

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Dereck Childres in Griffin, Georgia

81 months ago

It's hard to put a feeling into words,it's a skill that is developed over time. Your sense of balance tells you the ground conditions under your tracks, to hone your skill,remember what you felt, then back up far enough to see where you were, visualize the changes you will make before proceding. All this happens very fast and becomes second nature, after a while you won't even realize you're doing it. Remember,the ground that your tracks are on affects the blade,keep the grade leading up to the cut or fill where it feels right to you,so long as what feels right to you is right according to the job at hand. As to three things,1.experience is good, but experience while trying to excel at the skill is better than decades of willy nilly. 2.don't let pride keep you from asking questions, there is always someone better, find them and pick their brain. 3.if you get frustrated your grade will suffer so when the truck dumps in the wrong spot, let it go!

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Jenkins in Toronto, Ontario

81 months ago

biggest thing that i can say ive learned in my limited experience is when your starting, take your time and be safe, if you dont go home at the end of the day then nothing else matters.

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Kirk in Manhattan, Kansas

81 months ago

Joe in New Orleans, Louisiana said: If you want to seek heavy equipment, go for it You need to find the higher paying states. East or west coast pays the highest. Prevailing wage in California is 49 an hour. thats where im at now. 100k a year. they pay for expierenced operators. do you have expierence? but there is also winter layoff which drives me up the wall. I would rather be working.

Are you kidding me? I'm running a Cat 14G grader for $12 bucks an hour in great ol Kansas! this state blows.

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Chalie "Ton" Boy in Houston, Texas

80 months ago

Show me the money and I will show you the skill

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Blake in Casper, WY

80 months ago

Personally I think of myself as a cowboy. If you want to know what it takes to be an equipment operator then just ask yourself what does it take to be a cowboy. Not the Brokeback Mountain wannabe cowboy, lol. But the real deal.

Wake up early go to bed late, work hard play hard. That's it. No joke. Get your hands dirty break a few bones and get back on the horse. I can tell you that this is for anyone also. Black, White, Green, man, woman, don't matter just one simple question. Are you willing to do what it takes to get the job done. No wusses here.

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Hank in Sacramento, California

80 months ago

Jack Mich in Jolley, IA said: What is the number one thing to be a good bulldozer operator? Is it putting the blade on the ground 1st., or is is it watching one side of the tilted blade? I was alwas told, and have tried to master it, and it was said to me,"run the dozer by your butt, and this will create a feel for the machine". Know was I miss lead, and is there an easier way?????????? Thank-you very much... Jack(dirt-boy)mich

No you were'nt missled, keep your eye on the front of the dozer for beginners, when that machine dips down you need to compensate for where you want grade so pull up gradually, then as you rear starts going into the excavation you need to drop your blade. it takes practice it'll piss you off for a while and you'll know when you start getting it right.

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Hank in Sacramento, California

80 months ago

Jack M. in Jolley, Iowa said: Could you tell me, please, how the stakes or laghfs, read on site, and I mean any site...

AB= aggregate base
ASB= aggregate sub base
AC= asphalt or aggregate concrete
@= at
BC=begin curve
BM=bench mark
Boot=artificial distance above the grade mark for easier veiwing
BW=back of wall
C=cut
CL=centerline
Cone=concrete
Cp=catch point
CS=curb stake
CTB=cement treated base
EL=elevation
GB=grade break
EP=edge of pavement
ES=edge of sholder
F=fill
FC=face of curb
FF=finish floor
FH=fire hydrant
FL=flow line or water
FP=finish paving
HP=high point or hinge point
Lf=linear feet
L/O=line only
offset stake=#circled
PC=point of curve
RCP=reinforced concrete pipe
R=radius
RPSS=reference point for slope stake
LP=lip of gutter
R/W=right of way
SG=sub grade
SS=slope stake
SE=super elevation
SW=side walk
TBM=temporary bench mark
TC=top of curb
Toe=bottom of slope
TW=top of wall
P/L=property line
RP=reference point
VG=valley gutter
WV=water valve

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Hank in Sacramento, California

80 months ago

Don Gainey in Fort Campbell, Kentucky said: Wow! I'm just looking in to this field and the competition looks very weak.I figured you would need a college degree! Does anyone know what the average pay is? I'm Trying to figure out if this is the carreer for me or not need to make at least 80 a year

well Don you probly wont get a HEO job these days without getting certified I recomend you go to NCCER/NAHETS. type in Nahets and there web site will pop up. the instructors there are great, I went through them and am certified for everything under the sun except crain. It cost me $16,000 for the classes, 19,000 with housing. It's 3 weeks per level 4 levels in all including crain, you have to go through level one unless you have a class A. You can do just the level you want or do them all

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Craig Smith in Moncton, New Brunswick

79 months ago

i was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of self study for grade reading and blueprints and things of that nature// can already run heavy equipment fairly well but operating is a different story its not much good being good at something unless you really know how to use it right///thanks guys

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darren in Los Angeles, California

78 months ago

Jason in Twentynine Palms, California said: I am a heavy equipment operator for the marine corps. dozers, scraper, backhoe, grader, front end loader, and a couple forklifts. i have really enjoyed operating since ive been in but im getting out in a few months and was wondering how much NAHETS would cost me to go through it. also since i am "licensed" from the military if i would actually have to go through the NAHETS course. i attended a heavy equipment school for operating and operating only. would anyone recommend that i go through NAHETS or would my military licenses be accepted by a union in alaska, or anywhere for that matter? any feed back is much appreciated.

call deep creek school im sure they would help you out
760-240-3045

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Ben in Glen Burnie, Maryland

78 months ago

I am looking for a good lock level for my rough grades. Every time I ask the other guys at the shop I get no answer. I have a level from home depot but I need something a little better. Can someone give me a website or store in maryland? thanks for your time

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dzrtrdr in Orange, California

78 months ago

Hank in Sacramento, California said: well Don you probly wont get a HEO job these days without getting certified I recomend you go to NCCER/NAHETS. type in Nahets and there web site will pop up. the instructors there are great, I went through them and am certified for everything under the sun except crain. It cost me $16,000 for the classes, 19,000 with housing. It's 3 weeks per level 4 levels in all including crain, you have to go through level one unless you have a class A. You can do just the level you want or do them all

i am a 21 y/o kid who has been running everything on a job site. i got started through a friend when i was 14 and i dont know a single person who has ever gotten certified for anything other then a crane which is a must. i know numerous union and non union operators and none of them ever went to school for it

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USAF Engineer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

77 months ago

Jason in Twentynine Palms, California said: I am a heavy equipment operator for the marine corps. dozers, scraper, backhoe, grader, front end loader, and a couple forklifts. i have really enjoyed operating since ive been in but im getting out in a few months and was wondering how much NAHETS would cost me to go through it. also since i am "licensed" from the military if i would actually have to go through the NAHETS course. i attended a heavy equipment school for operating and operating only. would anyone recommend that i go through NAHETS or would my military licenses be accepted by a union in alaska, or anywhere for that matter? any feed back is much appreciated.

Don't worry about it, you've got what you need. Have you thought about enlisting in the Air Guard after you get out? They're paying $15,000 re-enlistment bonuses for guys already in the HEO field.

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Jason in Twentynine Palms, California

77 months ago

right now i just want try and see what its like on the civilian side. if i was to go into the air guard what is the schedule like? 2 weeks a year 1 weekend a month?

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USAF Engineer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

77 months ago

Normal commitment for the 15 grand is six years active reserve. What that means is 1 weekend a month, two weeks a year. The rest of the time you are pretty much a civilian. Normally deployments are voluntary. Been in the guard for 12 years (after four years active duty AF) and have been involuntarily activated 1 time, no big deal, a six month tour (the rest of the time I volunteered pretty cool to get paid to go to England, Canada, Italy, Germany, etc.). With 4 years active, you have a bunch of points towards retirement. Plus in the guard they send you to schools for your career anyway. Go to www.goang.com and you can click on any state to get a link to the units in that state. Just because they don't have Heavy Equipment Operator (3E2X1) listed doesn't mean that they can't get you in that field. Be persistant the recruiter will want you to sign for a field they are short in but stay the course and tell them you won't sign unless you get what you want. Most units can recruit to 100% + of authorized manning. But you've already got the training heck the military has the best training in the world because if we're not fighting, we're training to fight right?.

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Scorpionhoe in Hamilton, Ontario

76 months ago

Jack Mich in Jolley, IA said: What is the number one thing to be a good bulldozer operator? Is it putting the blade on the ground 1st., or is is it watching one side of the tilted blade? I was alwas told, and have tried to master it, and it was said to me,"run the dozer by your butt, and this will create a feel for the machine". Know was I miss lead, and is there an easier way?????????? Thank-you very much... Jack(dirt-boy)mich

Yes run it by the seat of your pants as much as your eyes.When you get good its like your ass talks directly to your blade hand.Angle your blade towards the low side when grading. When working in wet or sticky crap keep the blade just slightly higher than your grade and jiggle the tilt if its a trim dozer. You can only go as fast as dirt falls.

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Dillon Thompson in Hesperia, California

76 months ago

darren in Los Angeles, California said: call deep creek school im sure they would help you out
760-240-3045

Im thinking about going there. Would someone hire a 18 yr old on the spot or would it be better if i went to this school.

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tommy in Mobile, Alabama

74 months ago

Joe in New Orleans, Louisiana said: If you want to seek heavy equipment, go for it You need to find the higher paying states. East or west coast pays the highest. Prevailing wage in California is 49 an hour. thats where im at now. 100k a year. they pay for expierenced operators. do you have expierence? but there is also winter layoff which drives me up the wall. I would rather be working.

joe , do you know of any job openings there?
i have about 4000 hrs of experience
any input will be greatly appreciated
email me at tommyatgroundupkustoms@yahoo.com

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should have been a docter in Suwanee, Georgia

48 months ago

i know im a few years behind this post and you prob have it figured out by now, but anyway...1 You have to be able to read and shoot grade from set stakes 2 you should have at least a fundamental understanding of plans 3 most importantly, you have to be able to put up with a lot of bs and companies screwing you over just to save a few dollars. have fun!!!

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Steve in Kelowna, British Columbia

45 months ago

gemini526 in Auburn, Washington said: and able to pass 5th grade spelling (depth, perception)

No you don't... your pushing dirt, its not rocket surgery.

Be gentle with a machine, learn how it works, be smooth. But,
my biggest piece of advice for any operator (or any job really) is to never be happy with what you've done, always think how you could have done it better. Think faster, more efficient, least amount of passes. Take pride but try and improve every time. The largest downfall I see is once people think their 'good' many stop improving. You can do the job another 20 years but you'll never get better once you 'think' your the best. In my experience the best operators, and or successful people I've met are humble and interestingly have all stated to me how they never stop learning.

Good luck

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Arwchilds in Auckland, New Zealand

34 months ago

Why not just mine in aussy? Depending on what your operating it's 35 - 100/hr 100,000 to 250,000 a year. I wanted to travel round america but the wages you guys say your getting suck.

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Operator No 499 in Sydney, Australia

32 months ago

One thing for sure, learn how to spell when filling out an application. Some of the spelling here is very bad and a dead giveaway that you do not have a basic education. To be an operator requires a good level of basic maths, adding, multiplication, subtraction and division and the ability to do this in the head and on the fly. Your employer will need this in you because you will be working with stakes and lasers. If he sees some of the spelling mistakes on this forum in your job application, don't expect a call from him, because if you can't spell you can't do basic math in his opinion. I've been an operator for 25 years. Not anymore. I love heavy equipment but it's a dead beat job in the eyes of most and won't get you anywhere in life. Get a trade, heavy equipment mechanic for instance, but make sure it is with a "name" brand such as Cat or Deere. Good luck.

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Confidential/Witheld in Amityville, New York

19 months ago

Your post is a bit dated, but in information will be applicable.
Contact the union local(s) of International Union of Operating Engineers, wherever you now reside, as I believe it is no longer that you are at Fort Campbell; What was your MOS? Most unions will periodically offer Apprenticeship Programs but they have legacy or "Sacred Cows". I lost out to the son of a girlfriend of an operating engineer who claimed "legacy" with IUOE Local-138 member. From my experience, the people in charge at the union are Pompous, so your nose had better be brown, and take a Saws-All to the garage door because it will need to be widened to fit their heads through it when they come in (I am not joking).
There is some activity in the local market but even the big union jobs are limited, so why not go to the local masonry yard, sand pit, stone quarry, or recycling yard, to get a toe in the door. Unions pay big money but you work on average four months a year unless you have a job with a company that has a union contract and year-round work, like plowing snow for municipalities or airports, which is typical of feast or famine, and I cannot tell you how much havoc is caused by machines bumping airliners and costing insurance companies big money in claims. I enjoy snow plowing roads. Don't forget to stop by your local Town Hall, because maybe you can start out as a laborer and work your way up after two or three years. If you were Airborne, join your local volunteer fire department. Why? Because then as a veteran, you can take all of the fire department entry exams because you have height experience and military experience, then they pay for your training on specialized equipment operation, tower ladders and super pumpers, all are not payloader/bulldozer jobs, but are really secure, pay great (with overtime FDNY=$100K+) because they cannot tell you at a fire or other emergency, as a firefighter, to simply go home, so don't worry about overtime equalization.

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Digger1849 in Springville, Utah

19 months ago

Host said: What are the top 3 traits or skills every heavy equipment operator must have to excel?

Can you suggest any tips or insights to develop your heavy equipment operator expertise?

Obviously Machine control, The ability to think ahead and a basic understanding of grade staking are very important. As an Operator for 35 years and now a general superintendent for a large construction co. I have found that attitude is a major part of being a quality operator, I continually have operators tell me how good they are, some are even the best! but what I have found is that the best operators constantly challenge themselves and are there own worst critics.

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Muhamamd Nasir Khan in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

6 months ago

This is really vary interesting topic.

<a href="www.sgcc.ae">http://www.sgcc.ae/</a>

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