05-18-2009 10:42 AM
I'm ready to get started as an operator and would like to know how others got there start. I've had some experience with my uncles biz and really like it. But don't know what to do next. Anyone else want to share their story? Should I go to school or other training? Did you go to school? What did they cover in the classes? How well did it prepare you for your first job? If you could do it all over would you still take the school route? Same school?
08-20-2009 08:15 PM
In order to be an operator, you will have to be a laborer first, which means you will do the grunt work, toiling 12 hour days, getting sun burnt and getting yelled at, a lot. Get a job laboring at a construction company, make sure they do stuff that involves heavy equipment, ie, excavating, road building, demolition, water/sewer install and repair. I can pretty much gaurantee you won't be on a piece of equipment for at least 1 year from when you start. You won't be on any equipment until they are able to trust you, meaning you can do repetitive hard work consistently without complaint, you show up ready and work all day, and you hardly ever lose or break anything. *Your new best friend will be a round mouth shovel, and you will use it all the time.
Be consistent, be reliable, and always be ready to work, that includes weekends, saturday and sunday. IF YOU DON;T KNOW SOMETHING, ASK. DON'T!!!!! go to school, its a waste of your time and especially your money, you don't learn anything and employers hate seeing it on a resume because they know that you expect that your going to get on a machine straight away when that is obviously not the case. *Resumes that have that on them get thrown out!
Take what you can get, even little stuff like moving a skidsteer from one place to another is better than nothing, it will seem like forever before you get on the equipment, tough it out for a couple years and it will get easier, keep a positive attitude. Learn how to take crap, because you will get a lot of it. Get used to getting yelled at. * A good way to fast track your equipment expirience is snow removal, its an easy job, and they always need people to do it. Anyway take my advice for what its worth, if you do it this way, and you don't stuck it out, you will have at least learned the value of hard work
P.S. Any farm expirience is worth gold, employers always take those resumes and put them on the "keep" pile, ( I know it sure helped me out a lot), as heavy equipement and farm equipment are very similar. - Good luck - Cal
09-24-2009 01:02 AM
10-31-2009 06:51 AM
I started out as a labourer. A company was building road near me so I went out to the job site every morning for over 2 weeks ready to work and asked the super if he had room for me. When he said no I hung out for as long as I could picking his brain about what was going on. Eventually one morning he just laughed at me when I walked up, pointed at a shovel and a big multi plate that was going in and said "go help those guys out".
I spent the rest of the summer 12-14 hours a day working my but off. I paid attention to everything that was going on and when I had nothing to do I found something to do. When the other laborers were leaning on their shovels I went and offered the mechanics, surveyors or anyone else that was around a hand and learned what I could from them. If they had nothing for me to do I would go clean out the service trailer or find something else to do.
As well every chance I got to hop on a parked machine I did. Every break if there was a machine near me I would ask the Operator (after clearing it with the boss) if I could work it through the break. With most Operators if you have a good attitude they are happy to teach and you will get a good reception if you ask questions and listen more than you talk. I know myself I have helped many people bust in. If it is someone with a good attitude that really wants to learn I enjoy teaching ALMOST as much as I enjoy learning.
Before long I was getting time in on the 815 (packer) and then the 966 loader and then one day one of the Dozer Operators quit, it was an old D8K. The fan blades were seized on suck, (blowing the engine heat at the cab) it was stupid hot out and he got tired of hearing parts were on the way. So I got my shot pushing 627's through the mud and Dozing dirt. I ran it that way for over 2 weeks in the heat. I didn't care though, I was happy to have it. When the parts finally arrived the owner himself brought them out and asked the super if he should hire a new Operator for it now. He said only if you want to be the one to go and tell Brian your taking it away from him now LOL he is doing OK on it. So I got to keep it and the next job the company bought 4 next to new 631's and a 9L to push them. Was I ever a happy kid!
11-01-2009 01:13 AM
11-02-2009 12:26 AM
I agree, you can not learn to be an Operator from a couple hour speech no matter who is giving the speech. But that is not how starting at the bottom and working your way up learning on the job works. You start on a shovel, spend some time learning grades, helping mechanics and service people and generally learning the ropes and how things are done. You participate in all the safety meetings, you interact every day on the job with knowledgeable people that guide you and when you are ready move up to a piece of slow moving support equipment like a packer. Once you have done your time on it and an opening comes up you move up to a bigger machine. Even then you are not just given a speech and turned loose with the machine. You are often teamed up with an experienced Operator and even when you are in the cab alone you are not really alone. There is constant radio contact available for every one on the job site. Everyone you are working with knows who the new Operators are and watch them. Guaranteed if you are doing something wrong or not operating safely someone will straighten you out or send you home.
As it is right now very few employers actually require certification and even those that do, experience trumps the certification in most cases. A season laboring with a few weeks operating experience at the end of the season will go a lot farther on your resume than a certificate you got from 6 weeks in school.
I am not saying that school is a bad thing, it's not. In fact I would really like to be an instructor at one of those schools and believe that eventually a trade certificate will be required by law to be an Operator on any machine. If you have the money to do it or a guaranteed job after school, go for it. But if you are like the average person and that is big dollars to you then go learn on the job and get paid for your education. If you do decide to go the school rout I suggest talking to potential employers first. Go to the people you want to work for, tell them what school you are considering and ask about your chances of getting hired after you finish. Also try and find other people that have already attended that school and see how it worked out for them. There are a few really good schools out there but there are also a lot of not so good ones. I have worked with several people that went to school to be an Operator and say if they could do it over they would not waste the time and money on it. It did not help them get a job and once they got on the job what they learned helped them very little. I have worked with others that said the schooling did not help them get a job but what they learned did help them once they got a job. So just be sure and do your research first and make sure you find one of the good schools.
11-02-2009 03:01 PM
11-04-2009 03:18 PM
One way to become a skilled respected operator is by enrolling into a apprenticeship program at a International Union of operating Engineers local training center. These programs are located throughout the US & Canada and take new apprentices at times depending on local needs and regulations. These programs are managed by trusties appointed by the Operating Engineers and conpany managers respresenting the constructions companies that employ Operating Engineers members.
The programs are regulated by the US Department of labor and your only costs are becoming a member of the Operaing Engineers local where the training program is located. These are 3-4 year programs where you recieve specified training at the training site on all types of construction equipment from large cranes to a good ole Cat D7H.
Contractors who employ Operating Engineers construct some of the largest projects in the US, like the Hoover Dam and provide Operators for the tar Sands Mine in Canada. During your training, you must develope skills that make you "Simply the Best"
Look in the phone book where you live or go to this website for further information! www.iuoe.org
02-10-2010 05:51 PM
Everybody has given you some really valuable pieces of advice here but at the end of the day its what you do that works that counts. Learning to become and operator takes a little of what everybody said basically. Then it's what you put into it yourself, If you think school is a way to go then go that way, if you think that learning from the trenches is what you need to do then cool that try that as well. Hey you can always rent your own equipment and practice that as well it all depends on what kind of finances you have to work with which way you ultimately decide to go. But going to school and renting your own equipment to practice what you learned it just a way to feel a little bit more comfortable operating the equipment if you don't have any other access to it. You don't want to get on the job and be trying to learn while someone is paying you to be a professional or to keep a pace that will ultimately cost somebody money and you a job. So if you can get access to equipment like anything else rent it first to learn each piece of equipment you want to operate for someone hone those skills you learn from reading the manuals on how to operate the equipment as well as any schooling you have or lessons you've learned from instructions about it. Then put all that together and you can possibly get someone to give you a shot at the big show but until you get there practice, practice, practice, listen, learn and oh yeah ask plenty of questions of the manufacture, the sales folks, the rental folks whomever knows more about it than you do. They will be more than happy to assist you since you would be a customer of there's and answering questions is apart of their job so fire away! Not the most conventional way to become what you seek to become but whoever said there was only one way to do it.
02-20-2010 09:00 PM
There has been some very sound advise given in the previous posts...remember, wether it is on-the-job-training or a formal class setting, nothing you learn can ever be taken away from you. The "pool" of people that the construction industry can draw from has shrunk severely over the years. Most construction companies know the day-to-day value of a good operator(with the exception of the "bean counters")(no offense to all the CPAs' out there) Job supers value someone who knows what they are doing and takes pride and care of the equipment they run....it saves on wear and tear, downtime and lost production...so do what you feel will help you be "one of the best" Good luck!