What is the Future of Equipment Operators in the Construction Industry?


Construction equipment operators, as the name suggests, are individuals who operate heavy machinery used in construction. These machines are used for the purpose of construction, demolition and excavation. Some examples of the most famous heavy equipment brands and categories are; Tadano Cranes, CAT Wheel loaders, CAT Bulldozers, CAT/Komatsu Excavators, CAT Motor graders, DYNAPAC vibratory rollers and Case backhoes. There are majorly 3 types of operators; Operating engineers, Paving and surfacing equipment operators and Pile driver operators.

Construction equipment operators are generally responsible for:

  • Operating the equipment safely and efficiently to finish the job at hand
  • Making sure that the equipment is being used with care 
  • Cleaning and maintaining equipment
  • Making basic and necessary repairs
  • Reporting equipment malfunctions to their supervisors


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 5% growth rate in the employment of construction equipment operators from 2021 to 2031. An average growth rate of 5% means more than 50,000 openings for construction equipment operators each year.  One of the major factors contributing to this growth is the massively increased spending on infrastructures.

The average equipment operator in the construction industry can typically make upwards of $65,000 annually and for more experienced operators, the numbers can go up to $100,000. These figures can vary depending on the type of equipment they are operating on. Crane operators, Yard managers and Winch truck drivers are considered amongst the highest paying ones. The increasing growth potential and lucrative salary benefits, makes becoming construction equipment operator as a desirable career choice.  


The future of construction equipment can be summarized into just one word, Automation. As claimed by many experts, automation was long overdue in the construction industry. In construction industry autonomous vehicles are one of the most promising automations. These advanced vehicles do not require any wireless or wired networks, these machines can operate on their own. 

The tasks in construction industry are generally well-suited for automation. These tasks are repetitive, time sensitive and do not require creative or out of the box thinking. 

Described below are the three major reasons why automation became a must in the construction industry.

  1. Cost Effectiveness

Construction industry compared to any other industry, is considered slow and expensive. A study reveals that 90% of construction projects experience cost overruns. The use of automated machinery significantly reduces the cost of labor and other over head expenses. A single operator can supervise multiple autonomous machines compared to the traditional methods, in which multiple operators were required for a single equipment. This drastically reduces the operational costs.

  1. Operational Efficiency

Autonomous machines and equipment typically work much faster than human beings. The possibilities of human errors are also minimized. High quality work in a decreased time span greatly enhances the overall operational efficiency.

  1. Safety Issues

One of the most important developments achieved using autonomous machinery is an increase in the level of safety. Safety and health concerns have always been a major factor in construction industry. The construction industry has a bad reputation of having hazardous accidents. A study from 2017 revealed that the construction industry accounted for 20% of workplace fatalities. Automated machinery ensures minimal involvement of humans on construction sites, greatly reducing the chances of accidents.


Autonomous machinery and equipment are the future of construction industry. This change in the industry, however, cannot be achieved overnight. It is a gradual process and it will take years if not decades to get implemented. 

Construction equipment workers are not getting replaced anytime soon. There is a huge market of used industrial equipment and these workers are needed to operate them. Learning about these new and advanced machinery and acquiring new skills to operate them can greatly help construction equipment operators in the long run.

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