Plant operators use heavy machinery to dig, lift and move materials on a building site.
The Role
  • In charge of machines such as bulldozers and dumper trucks, mobile elevated work platforms, giant cranes, compactors and excavators (JCBs).
  • Working outdoors and sometimes at height if using a tower crane or one of the larger excavators
  • With this type of role, you normally become an expert in one type of large machinery, and do everything from driving and operating the machinery to keeping it running properly
  • Newly trained plant operators can earn in the region of £19,000 - £25,000
  • Trained with experience plant operators can earn in the region of £25,000 - £30,000
  • Senior plant operators can earn in the region of £30,000 - £40,000
Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Self-employed plant operators set their own pay rates.
Qualifications & Training
There are no formal entry requirements to train as a construction plant operator but some employers ask for GCSEs or Standard Grades/National 4/5s in maths, English and design and technology, or equivalent vocational qualifications. Construction companies and construction agencies often want people with some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, think about working as a general construction operative to start with. Your boss may then train you as a plant operator. An apprenticeship is a good way into this construction career. As an apprentice, you study towards SVQ/NVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations, which covers how to operate the machine along with training in safety legislation, regulations and codes of practice, your roles and responsibilities, maintenance and inspection and protective equipment.