Construction Plant Operator

Job Description:

Construction plant operators work with machinery and equipment used on building sites.

Job Category:
Engineering & Construction

What you will do:

In your day-to-day job you could:

  • use 180 and 360 degree excavators
  • move earth with bulldozers and dumper trucks
  • operate a crane, under radio direction from a slinger or signaller
  • level out work areas with compactors
  • operate piling rigs and concrete pumps
  • use forklifts to unload and move building materials around the site
  • change buckets, shovels and other attachments
  • make safety checks on machines


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of building and construction
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • physical skills like movement and coordination
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Construction Plant Operator, specific subjects are not typically required. However, certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for a career in operating heavy construction equipment and machinery. Construction Plant Operators are responsible for safely operating equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, cranes, and forklifts on construction sites. Here are some relevant subjects:

  1. Mathematics (Maths): Basic math skills are important for calculating measurements, understanding load capacities, and performing tasks related to equipment operation.
  2. Science: A general understanding of science principles can be helpful for comprehending the mechanics and technical aspects of construction machinery.
  3. Design and Technology: Design and Technology courses can offer insights into mechanical systems, maintenance procedures, and the design of heavy equipment.
  4. Physics: While not mandatory, Physics can help you understand principles related to mechanical engineering and the physical properties of materials.
  5. English Language: Effective verbal communication skills are essential for understanding and following instructions on the construction site.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working your way into the role
  • applying directly


You could do a college course. In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Certificate in Construction Plant Operations
  • Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment

These courses will teach you some of the skills you need. Once you finish the course, you could try to find a trainee job with a building company.


You could get into this job through a construction plant operator intermediate apprenticeship.

If you want to operate cranes, you could do a lifting technician intermediate apprenticeship.


You could find work as a general construction labourer to get some on-site experience. Once you’re working, your employer may offer you training in plant operation.

Direct Application

It may be possible to apply directly to employers if you’ve got experience in construction or operating other types of heavy machinery.

Some employers may ask for you to have studied subjects like English, maths and design and technology.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 48-50 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends away from home.

You could work on a construction site. Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers, noisy, at height and dirty.

Career Path & Progression:

You could move into construction site supervision, site estimating or work in plant hire and equipment sales.

You might become a supervisor or coordinator which involves choosing the right machinery for jobs and assessing new equipment.