Earthmoving Plant Operators
Earthmoving Plant Operators operate plant to excavate earth, ore and rock, break up pavement, road, rock and obstructions, move and load earth, rock and debris, and level, smooth and compact surfaces in construction and other projects.
preparing and positioning plant for operation
selecting, fitting and removing attachments such as buckets, winches, loading scoops, shovel blades and rock breaking hammers
operating controls to excavate, break, drill, level, compact, gouge out, move, load and spread earth, rock, rubble, soil and other materials
monitoring operation of plant and adjusting controls to regulate pressure, speed and flow of operation, and ensuring safety of other workers
raising, lowering and manipulating attachments using manual and hydraulic controls
working from drawings, markers and verbal instructions
servicing, lubricating, cleaning and refuelling plant and performing 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. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers in this occupation is likely to remain stable.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 86% of people employed as Earthmoving Plant Operators work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 20 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 49 hours per week in their main job. This is 5 hours more than the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
More than a third of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $1,625 per week, this is similar to the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,453
- 1 in 4 earn more than $2,041
Median hourly earnings are $41, this is the same as the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Earthmoving Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Earthmoving Plant Operators work in the Construction industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Earthmoving Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
Around 66% of Earthmoving Plant 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.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
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 Earthmoving Plant Operators is 45 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 2% of the workforce. This is 46 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||Earthmoving Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||4.7||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 an Earthmoving Plant 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||Earthmoving Plant Operators||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||0.2||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||41.4||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.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
43%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Maintaining equipment and deciding what maintenance will be needed in the future.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
39%Quality control analysis
Doing tests and checking products, services, or processes to make sure they are working properly.
Fixing machines or systems.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Talking to others.
36%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
36%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Teaching people how to do something.
Reading work related information.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Deciding on the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
61%Building and construction
Materials, and methods used to construct or repair houses, buildings, or other structures like highways and roads.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
47%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
47%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
46%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
40%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
37%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
34%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
27%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
24%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
23%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
Describing land, sea, and air, including their physical characteristics, locations, how they work together, and the location of plant, animal, and human life.
18%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.
Decide which thing is closer or further away from you, or decide how far away it is.
Use your arms and/or legs at the same time while sitting, standing, or lying down.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Quickly move your hand, finger, or foot when a sound, light, picture or something else appears.
Quickly choose the right movement of the hand, foot, or other body part when there are two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures).
See details that are far away.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Quickly move your hand to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.
Communicate by speaking.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Keep your hand or arm steady.
Pay attention to a certain sound when there are other distracting sounds.
Do two or more things at the same time.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Put together small parts with your fingers.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
74%Driving vehicles or equipment
Running, manoeuvring, navigating, or driving things like forklifts, vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
71%Handling and moving objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, moving and manipulating objects.
68%Controlling equipment or machines
Operating machines or processes either directly or using controls (not including computers or vehicles).
61%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
60%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
58%Checking for errors or defects
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials for errors, problems or defects.
57%Coordinating the work of a team
Getting members of a group to work together to finish a task.
57%Doing physically active work
Use your arms, legs and whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling objects.
55%Working with mechanical equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment.
55%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
51%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
51%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
49%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
48%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
47%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
46%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
46%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
44%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
39%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
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.
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.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
96%Outdoors, exposed to weather
Work outdoors, exposed to the weather.
93%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
Talk with people face-to-face.
90%Using your hands to handle, control, or feel
Spend time using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls.
89%Very hot or cold temperatures
Work in very hot or cold temperatures.
89%Loud or uncomfortable sounds
Be exposed to noises and sounds that are distracting or uncomfortable.
87%In an open vehicle or equipment
Work in an open vehicle (e.g., a tractor).
Work with people in a group or team.
85%In an enclosed vehicle or equipment
Work in a closed vehicle (e.g., car).
85%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
84%Whole body vibration
Be exposed to whole body vibration (e.g., operate a jackhammer).
Work near dangerous equipment like saws, machinery with open moving parts, or moving traffic.
Talk on the telephone.
82%Exposure to contaminants
Be exposed to pollutants, gases, dust or odours.
81%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
80%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
79%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
77%Making repetitive motions
Spend time making repetitive motions.
74%Pace of work set by equipment
Pace of work depends on the speed of equipment or machinery.
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, 47-2073.00 - Operating Engineers and Other Construction Equipment 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.