Tuesday, April 1, 2008

National Training Presents the Orlando Industry Outlook for Construction Equipment Operators

It's Tuesday and a beautiful day in Orlando. Sadly, I am indoors writing this post to get you outdoors and into a new career in the Construction Industry. Today marks part 4 of the Industry Outlook presented by the Orlando Employment Guide To Careers Series. If you missed the paper last week, this online version will serve you just the same. If you are longing for the physical newspaper copy, you can pick one up at our Spring Job Fair, April 17th at the Amway Arena in Downtown Orlando! For now enjoy this Construction Equipment Operator Industry Outlook sponsored by National Training.

Nature of the Work

Construction equipment operators use machinery to move construction materials, earth, and other heavy materials at construction sites and mines. They operate equipment that clears and grades land to prepare it for construction of roads, buildings, and bridges. They use machines to dig trenches to lay or repair sewer and other pipelines and hoist heavy construction materials. They may even work off shore constructing oil rigs. Construction equipment operators also operate machinery that spreads asphalt and concrete on roads and other structures. These workers also set up and inspect the equipment, make adjustments, and perform some maintenance and minor repairs. Construction equipment operators control equipment by moving levers, foot pedals, operating switches, or joysticks. Construction equipment is more complicated to use than it was in the past. For example, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is now being used to help with grading and leveling activities. Included in the construction equipment operator occupation are paving, surfacing, and tamping equipment operators; piledriver operators; and operating engineers. Paving and surfacing equipment operators use levers and other controls to operate machines that spread and level asphalt or spread and smooth concrete for roadways or other structures. Asphalt paving machine operators turn valves to regulate the temperature and flow of asphalt onto the roadbed. They must take care that the machine distributes the paving material evenly and without voids, and make sure that there is a constant flow of asphalt going into the hopper. Concrete paving machine operators control levers and turn hand wheels to move attachments that spread, vibrate, and level wet concrete in forms. They must observe the surface of concrete to identify low spots into which workers must add concrete. They use other attachments to smooth the surface of the concrete, spray on a curing compound, and cut expansion joints. Tamping equipment operators operate tamping machines that compact earth and other fill materials for roadbeds or other construction sites. They also may operate machines with interchangeable hammers to cut or break up old pavement and drive guardrail posts into the earth.

Working Conditions
Construction equipment operators work outdoors, in nearly every type of climate and weather condition, although in many areas of the country, some types of construction operations must be suspended in winter. Bulldozers, scrapers, and especially tampers and piledrivers are noisy and shake or jolt the operator. Operating heavy construction equipment can be dangerous. As with most machinery, accidents generally can be avoided by observing proper operating procedures and safety practices. Construction equipment operators are cold in the winter and hot in the summer and often get dirty, greasy, muddy, or dusty. Some operators work in remote locations on large construction projects, such as highways and dams, or in factory or mining operations.

Training and other Qualifications
Construction equipment operators usually learn their skills on the job, but formal apprenticeship programs provide more comprehensive training. Employers of construction equipment operators generally prefer to hire high school graduates, although some employers may train non-graduates to operate some types of equipment. High school courses in automobile mechanics are helpful because workers may perform maintenance on their machines. Also useful are courses in science and mechanical drawing. On the job, workers may start by operating light equipment under the guidance of an experienced operator. Later, they may operate heavier equipment, such as bulldozers and cranes. Technologically advanced construction equipment with computerized controls and improved hydraulics and electronics requires more skill to operate. Operators of such equipment may need more training and some understanding of electronics. It is generally accepted that formal training provides more comprehensive skills. Some construction equipment operators train in formal operating engineer apprenticeship programs administered by union-management committees of the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Associated General Contractors of America. Because apprentices learn to operate a wider variety of machines than do other beginners, they usually have better job opportunities. Apprenticeship programs consist of at least 3 years, or 6,000 hours, of paid on the-job training together with and 144 hours of related classroom instruction each year.

Job Outlook
Average job growth, reflecting increased demand for their services, and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation should result in very good job opportunities for construction equipment operators. Employment of construction equipment operators is expected to increase 8 percent between 2006 and 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Even though improvements in equipment are expected to continue to raise worker productivity and to moderate the demand for new workers somewhat, employment is expected to increase because population and business growth will create a need for new houses, industrial facilities, schools, hospitals, offices, and other structures.

Happy hunting Orlando and be sure to tune in tomorrow as we look into Financial Service Sales Agents!

Greg Rollett

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