Plant operators use heavy machinery to dig, lift and move materials on building sites. They can dramatically change landscapes or install impressive structures in a short time.
Plant operators usually specialise in one type of equipment, such as an excavator or giant crane, and need good spatial awareness to move large scale machinery.
Typical hours per week
48 - 50
Number employed in the UK
How to become a plant operator
There are several routes to becoming a plant operator. You could do a college course, an apprenticeship or on the job training.
You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these routes have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and able to follow instructions.
You may need Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) or Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) cards to work on a construction site.
College / training provider
You may need to attend a specialist college or training provider to gain the right qualifications.
You could complete a Level 2 Certificate in Construction Plant Operations or a Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment to become a trainee plant operator.
You’ll need :
An apprenticeship with a construction firm or plant hire company is a good way into the industry.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.
You could complete a Plant Operator or Lifting Technician intermediate apprenticeship or an NVQ / SVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations.
An intermediate apprenticeship takes around two years to complete.
You might need GCSEs (including English and maths) or equivalent, to do an apprenticeship, but not all employers ask for formal qualifications.
If you have experience in operating heavy machinery, you might be able to apply for a job directly.
If not, you could look for work as a general construction labourer or operative to gain on-site experience. Your employer may then offer on-the-job training.
Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. Employers will always be pleased to see it listed on your CV.
Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a plant operator include :
What does a plant mechanic do?
As a plant operator you will be responsible for using a variety of machinery to do tasks such as removing soil or dirt, moving equipment around a site, or creating new structures.
The job role of a plant operator involves the following duties :
How much could you earn as a plant operator?
The expected salary for a plant operator varies as you become more experienced.
Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Self-employed plant operators set their own pay rates.