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how much do heavy equipment operators make

Opportunities for heavy equipment operators will continue to be prevalent, and growing, throughout 2022 and the next few years.

Heavy equipment operator jobs are predicted to grow by at least four percent between 2019 and 2029 —a rate equal to the average compared to all other occupations — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the country begins and continues to rebound from COVID-19, builders will be in high demand as the United States gets back on track.

Heavy equipment operators serve as the backbone for the building industry. Filling a variety of roles and with a wide array of equipment, heavy equipment operators are positioned to make good money in a stable job market.

So, how much do heavy equipment operators make in the current market? A number of factors — the equipment used, the location, and experience level — all impact the bottom line, but even at a base level, the payout offers workers a rewarding path forward.


Strong Baseline Pay for Heavy Equipment Operators

At the big-picture level, heavy equipment operators will enjoy a median salary of $65,657 — across all equipment and experience levels — according to data collected as of Feb. 26, 2021. Approximately 50 percent of all heavy equipment jobs will have an annual salary ranging from $54,889 to $74,493.

But there are differences and variances according to both the equipment used and the experience level. For instance, an excavator operator will have an average salary of $48,418, according to data gathered by the same organization over the same time period.

Among heavy equipment operators, crane operators tend to skew toward the highest ends of the spectrum. With a base salary level of more than $32,000 per year, crane operators can eventually land opportunities that can approach $100,000 a year with enough experience and in the right locales. With a median salary of $56,700, crane operators with senior-level experience can average more than $75,000 a year.

But crane operators are far from exclusive in their ability to earn good incomes as heavy equipment operators. Bulldozer operators, for example, earn a median salary of more than $35,000 with the upper ranges reaching $43,000.

Excavator operators can range from $42,000 to $55,000 according to recent data. Backhoe operators are earning a median income of $49,000, and motor grader operators have a median salary of more than $43,000 per year.

Compactor operators ($44,000), wheel loader operators ($42,000), and skid steer operators ($35,000) all also have median salary levels that will offer even entry-level employees a chance to begin a sustaining career.

Your experience level will matter, of course. At Payscale.com, the data provided indicates that first-year heavy equipment operators will make roughly 20.6 percent less than those with moderate (five to nine years) experience. The gap widens with more experience. Those with 20-plus years in the field can expect to earn roughly 47 percent more per hour than those just starting out.

With the strong baseline salaries and the benefits afforded to those with experience, it makes sense to prioritize switching into a heavy equipment operator career sooner rather than later. With Performance Training Solutions, you’ll be able to do just that.

Training with PTS Offers Quick Alternative

Transitioning to a new career path with dependable, well-compensated salaries doesn’t have to be a long, expensive, or complicated process.

At Performance Training Solutions, all of our courses are three-week, 120-clock-hour programs. This includes both classroom education and in-the-seat training on our equipment. You can read more about our course specifics, but it’s important to note your training time will be focused on preparing you to work on heavy equipment — 70 percent of your training time will be operating the various forms of equipment and cranes at our facility.

If you’re looking to re-invent your career, you don’t want to spend years or tens of thousands of dollars in order to get there. With PTS, you can begin and complete the process in a month’s time. You’ll be able to get back to work sooner with new career opportunities waiting.

And if you’re already working as a heavy equipment operator, PTS can give you a refresher course or training with a different piece of equipment in order to broaden your experience and your future prospects. For instance, at PTS, we offer an NCCCO Recertification Prep & Test Program. Once your training is complete, we’ll continue to provide career assistance.

Get a Jump on Earning with PTS

Performance Training Solutions makes it easy and affordable to embark on a new career path that can generate well-paying opportunities in short order through a variety of jobs related to heavy equipment operation.

At PTS, our team of experienced trainers and career representatives will help you get results, as evidenced by our 90 percent job placement rate for course graduates. Ready to learn more about our training courses? Contact us to schedule a free tour of our facilities and receive a $500 tuition reduction scholarship.

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