Skilled Trade

Operating Engineers

 Average Hourly Wage


What You Need

  • 18 years old
  • Highschool Diploma or GED
  • 144 classroom hours per year
  • 6,000 to 8,000 on-the-job training hours

Job description

Operating and technical engineers operate construction equipment such as heavy-duty trucks, cranes, bulldozers, pavers, rollers, trench excavators, and many other kinds of equipment used in constructing buildings, dams, airports and highways. Apprentices may also work as heavy-duty truck and equipment mechanics (heavy duty repairer) and as technical engineer surveyors.

Working conditions

The work is outdoors and varied, depending on the weather. Bad weather can shut down jobs and the machinery is generally not operated in heavy snow or rain. The average operator works 1,200 to 1,500 hours per year; some get less work, depending on their skills. Apprentices are sometimes required to commute long distances or to relocate for a few weeks or months to obtain employment. Apprentices must be flexible and adaptable to different environments, job sites, and requirements.

Length of apprenticeship

The apprenticeship lasts three to four years with opportunities to advance every six months. Apprentices must complete a minimum of 144 related classroom hours per year and 6,000 to 8,000 on-the-job training hours.

Minimum qualifications

Apprenticeship applicants must be at least 18 years of age. In addition, they must provide proof of high school graduation or general education development (GED) equivalent. Local apprenticeship committees may require additional qualifications.


Beginning apprentices start at approximately 50–80 percent of the journey-level wage. Upon successful completion of required class work and on-the-job hours, wages increase, usually every six months, until the journey-level rate is achieved.

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