Backhoe Operators operate backhoes and attachments to excavate, break, drill, level and compact earth, rock and other material.
Prepares and positions plant for operation.
Selects, fits and removes attachments.
Monitors operation of plant and adjusts controls to regulate pressure, speed and flow of operation, and ensure safety of other workers.
Raises, lowers and manipulates attachments using manual and hydraulic controls.
Services, lubricates, cleans and refuels plant and performs minor adjustments and repairs.
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Informal or on-the-job
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. Employment projections data are only produced for occupations at the broad four digit Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) level. While data are not available for this occupation, projections data are available for the parent occupation, Earthmoving Plant Operators, under the outlook section.
Earnings and hours
Around 79% of people employed as Backhoe Operators work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 13 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 44 hours per week in their main job. This is the same as the all jobs average.
Sources:Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average.
Most Backhoe Operators work in the Construction industry. They are also employed in industries like:
- Public administration and safety
- Rental, hiring and real estate services
- Electricity, gas, water and waste services.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Backhoe Operators||All Jobs Average|
Around 68% of Backhoe Operators live outside of capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 38%.
Queensland has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Backhoe Operators is 54 years. This is higher than the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 45 to 54 years.
Females make up 1% of the workforce. This is 47 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Backhoe Operators||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||10.8||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Formal qualifications are not essential to work as a Backhoe Operator. Although some workers have a certificate III in civil construction plant operations.
- My Skills to compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes.
- AAPathways website to explore Transport and Logistics Training Package VET training pathways.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Backhoe Operators||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||0.0||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||55.5||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Earthmoving Plant Operators who are reliable and hardworking.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
52%Operation and control
Controlling equipment or systems.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
45%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Maintaining equipment and deciding what maintenance will be needed in the future.
Fixing machines or systems.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Reading work related information.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
41%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Deciding on the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
41%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
39%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
39%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Talking to others.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
52%Building and construction
Materials, and methods used to construct or repair houses, buildings, or other structures like highways and roads.
44%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
33%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
32%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
31%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
29%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
22%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
20%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
18%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
16%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Quickly move your hand, finger, or foot when a sound, light, picture or something else appears.
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Quickly choose the right movement of the hand, foot, or other body part when there are two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures).
Decide which thing is closer or further away from you, or decide how far away it is.
See details that are far away.
Change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Tell the difference between sounds.
See things to your side when your eyes are looking ahead.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Know where things are around you.
Notice differences between colours, including shades of colour and brightness.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
85%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
81%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
79%Driving vehicles or equipment
Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
72%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
70%Working with mechanical equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.
66%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
66%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
63%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
62%Coordinating the work of a team
Getting members of a group to work together to finish a task.
61%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
61%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
60%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
56%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
53%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
52%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
52%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
51%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
51%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
46%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
99%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
94%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Work with people in a group or team.
88%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
88%Whole body vibration
Be exposed to whole body vibration (e.g., operate a jackhammer).
88%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
83%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
82%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
82%Outdoors, exposed to weather
Work outdoors, exposed to the weather.
Work near dangerous equipment like saws, machinery with open moving parts, or moving traffic.
81%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
81%In an enclosed vehicle or equipment
Work in a closed vehicle (e.g., car).
81%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
81%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
80%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
78%Pace of work set by equipment
Pace of work depends on the speed of equipment or machinery.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
76%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
75%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 53-7032.00 - Excavating and Loading Machine and Dragline Operators.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.