5 Steps to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator in Canada

Learn how to become a heavy equipment operator in this prosé.

The use of heavy equipment cannot be overemphasized in the construction industry. There are different heavy equipment that serves different functions in the construction of buildings, houses, and roads. It is quite necessary to understand the requirements, duties, and how to become a heavy equipment operator in Canada to help you decide if you would like to build a career in this field.

So, we are set to prepare your mind on the essential skills and all you need to become a heavy equipment operator. Stay with us!

What is a heavy equipment operator?

A heavy equipment operator is an individual who operates heavy equipment needed for a private employer or government to build roads, erect buildings, or contributes to general infrastructure.

These pieces of equipment are usually very large and dangerous. They include excavators, backhoe loaders, dump trucks, and bulldozers. However, these professionals are trained to carefully and skillfully operate them.

Oftentimes, you will have to work in offshore locations seasonally depending on the company you work for. It is no doubt that you will need education and unique skills to safely and efficiently operate this equipment.

What does a heavy equipment operator do?

Every day, heavy equipment operators will perform tasks such as lifting materials, grading land, digging trenches, repairing pipelines, repairing buildings and roadways, and transporting materials. You will spend most of your working hours in construction sites trying to make your way through the land developments, housing roadway, and oil pipeline sites.

Whenever you’re not operating this machine, you might have to carry out general maintenance on them. This may include making minor repairs and checking on the machine, but you will have to leave the complex repair to the specialist.

Also, you should be able to follow and read blueprints to calculate the required materials and load for designs. Preparing for construction by laying down roadbed and working with paving material.

Skills needed to become a heavy equipment operator in Canada

Being a heavy equipment operator in Canada requires unique and relevant skills. Some of which are.

  • Attention to details
  • Ability to comprehend mathematics
  • A good interpersonal skill
  • Technical skills
  • A comprehendible communication skills
  • Good physical fitness
  • Ability to think fast and independently

Job Outlook of Heavy Equipment Operator in Canada

No doubt, the ageing of the bridges and roads, as well as the flourishing construction industry in Canada has called for the need for heavy equipment operators in Canada. So, if you’re having the intention of going into heavy equipment operation, now is the time to get into your occupation as the job outlook for heavy equipment operators in Canada is so great.

On average, the salary of a heavy equipment operator in Canada is around $51,000. However, an entry-level operator could earn about $35,000 in a year. But as you proceed in your career, your salary gets better.

Types of equipment operators in Canada

There are different kinds of equipment operators in Canada, to operate different types of heavy equipment. Some of which are.

#1. Paving and Surfacing Operators

This type of equipment operator specializes in equipment used for surfacing, well, and paving. You will use the machine to spread materials like gravel, concrete, cement, and asphalt to construct parking lots, sidewalks, building foundations, and roadways. Ensuring that the materials you spread have no gaps or cracks and are spread smoothly.

Basically, surface operators through a sequence of valves and control will oversee the temperature of the material they’re spreading, as well as how they flow. However, cement operators will do the same thing but with the use of handwheels.

The difference between cement and asphalt is that concrete is thinner than asphalt, so it is easier to spread evenly. Therefore, there are simple attachments and tools to simplify the process.

#2. General Equipment Operators

This type of heavy equipment operation encompasses the ability to work with a different machine or specialize in one. Majorly, every heavy equipment operator starts with operating one machine, after gaining expertise, they can expand their skill sets to work on complicated ones. In a nutshell, the more experienced you get, the more you can work with varieties of equipment.

Heavy equipment operators will be familiar with bulldozers, backhoe loaders, motor graders, skid steers, and excavators. In some projects, you can only work with one vehicle while in some other projects work with several types of equipment.

#3. Piledriver Operators

A Pile driver operator is the less common type of equipment operator that specializes in using machinery on construction sites while hammering piles into the ground. A pile is a heavy long beam that is made from either wood or steel. The machinery is used using a series of levers and foot pedals.

Piles are often used to support structures such as bulkheads, building walls, buildings, piers, and bridges. Oftentimes, other equipment (such as a crane) is attached to the pile driving equipment. Piledriver operators need to have perfect Hand-eye coordination and a great physical shape to perform this role perfectly.

5 Steps to Become a Heavy Equipment Operator in Canada

Basically, to become a heavy equipment operator in Canada. There are five succinct steps to follow. They are

Step one: Earn certification and license

Depending on your employer, you may need to get a certification or licensing to become a heavy machinery operator in Canada. Some certifications and licenses are valid for some time after which you will need to renew.

For example, for a crane operator, you will need to have certification as a provincial crane operator from the license Association. The validity period of the certification differs with the different provinces, after which you can renew through a process of testing.

To get a license or certification, you will go through a series of practical or written tests. For written tests, you will complete mathematical aptitude, problem-solving scenarios, inspection, comprehension, basic maths application, and measurement skills.

However, the practical test will require that you perform a different task in a series of circuits, to experiment with machinery knowledge and hand-eye coordination.

Step two: Earn a high school diploma or GED

The second step to becoming a heavy equipment operator after earning a certificate or license is to earn a school degree. It is advisable to earn a high school diploma or GED before getting into college, apprenticeship, or technical schools. This is because there are specific courses such as mathematics and auto technology that will equip your skills to become a heavy machinery operator at a school.

Step three: Update your resume

After getting your school’s certification the next step is to build relevant experience and qualifications. Ensure that you update your resume before submitting it for the job application. Also, include your career objective and qualification so that your employer will know why you want to become a heavy machinery operator. As well as the aim you seek to achieve.

For example, you can include that you want the position to increase your practical knowledge and to gain hands-on experience. Or you wish to ensure safety in the organization and advance knowledge to improve processes.

Importantly, make sure your resume is properly formatted and concise. A well-written resume will make your employer identify your qualification and skim through your resume effortlessly. So, we advise that you keep your resume on a page, if possible.

Step four: Obtain a commercial driver’s license

As a heavy equipment operator, you need to transport machinery between sites, which will require that you drive trailers or trucks. Therefore, you will need to get a commercial driver’s license.

Each province in Canada has its requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. So, you can make research on the requirement of getting a commercial driver’s license in the province you are in.

Step five: Don’t stop learning

Note that the construction industry is not stagnant, so you need to continually improve yourself. For instance, a heavy machine operator may start a construction company or start contracting businesses.

While others may become supervisors, Foreman, or senior project managers. Whichever is your desire to become, just keep learning and committed to being the best?

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Cost of Taking the Heavy Equipment Training

Basically, the cost of taking training to be a heavy equipment operator in Canada is somewhat expensive. It could take about $10,000 to $15,000 depending on the extensiveness and length of the course.

If you are in the operation of earthmoving equipment such as excavators, graders, trucks, and loaders, your course could run for about 6 weeks. Mind you, you also need to get textbooks and personal protective equipment for practical sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the NOC code for heavy equipment operators in Canada?

The NOC code for heavy equipment operators in Canada is 7521.

Do I need a driver’s license to operate heavy equipment in Alberta?

Basically, you may need to have at least a Class 3 driver’s license for local government jobs.

How much does an excavator operator make in Canada?

On average, an excavator operator makes about $53,625 in a year.


There is no doubt that every equipment operation is a career path that is rewarding and fulfilling. You can not get stranded on the plenty of jobs available to hardworking and dedicated individuals. That is why knowing how to become a heavy equipment operator in Canada, as stated in this prose will push you towards your accomplishments.