Plant operators use heavy machinery (known as "plant") to dig, lift and move materials on a building site. They are in charge of machines such as bulldozers and dumper trucks, mobile elevated work platforms, giant cranes, compactors and excavators (JCBs).
This role also involves unloading and moving building materials with rough-terrain forklifts and telescopic handlers. It can be one of the most exciting and dramatic construction jobs around.
For this role, you’ll normally work outdoors and sometimes at height if using a tower crane or one of the larger excavators. You generally become an expert in one type of large machinery, and do everything from driving and operating the machinery to keeping it running properly. This could include changing attachments (buckets and shovels), doing safety checks and maintenance, and then reporting any major faults to the specialist maintenance staff.
The following tasks are part of the job of a plant operator:
- Using excavators with 180- and 360-degree rotas
- Excavators, bulldozers, and dumper trucks are used to move earth.
- Shovels for loading
- Utilising massive cranes and radio communication with slinger signallers
- Utilising compactors to level up regions
- Utilising concrete pumps and piling rigs
- To unload and transfer products throughout the site, forklifts are used
- Performing safety inspections and maintaining operational machine
- Changing machine attachments such as buckets
- Working in a noisy, physically taxing, and dirty environment on construction sites.
Earnings typically depend on location, employer, the stage of your training, your hours worked and the opportunity to work overtime. Please also note that the pay rate figures have come from a variety of reliable sources including:
- National Home Builders
- Home Builder's Sub-Contractors
- The Home Builders Federation
- Construction Recruitment Agencies
Qualifications We Offer
There are no formal entry requirements to train as a plant operator, but some employers ask for GCSEs or equivalent in maths, English and design and technology.
An apprenticeship is a good way in. To find an apprenticeship visit the Government's vacancy website https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch in Wales visit Careers Wales https://ams.careerswales.com or in Scotland https://apprenticeships.scot.
A greater pay is possible if you advance into construction or plant management.
Some operators have areas of expertise such as training, estimation, or lift planning. Additionally, you can start buying or renting out farm equipment.
The type of job role can differ depending on the employer and the activities involved. Some roles such as trade roles have the opportunity to be self-employed. Often employers offer a variety of employment status and flexibility. The jobs outlined in this website are common across the home building industry, but the job titles may differ from one organisation to another.
Earn While You Learn
All our featured job roles offer different entry-points for school leavers, college leavers, and graduates to commence a career in the industry. There are opportunities to enrol on apprenticeships and other career progression routes.
For most jobs, depending on your qualifications and experience there are also openings for those looking to change career.
Key job roles
A few (of many) jobs which we are looking to recruit in the home building industry.
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To find opportunities available in your region, click a region to the left and then click one of the home builder logos below to be taken to their careers website.