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Construction Plant Operator Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Construction Plant Operator. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Construction Plant Operator
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Construction Plant Operator Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Plant operators control and operate machinery used on construction sites and roadworks. Machinery includes 360 degree excavators, bulldozers and dumper trucks for moving earth; static tower cranes, mobile and rough terrain cranes for lifting and moving materials; and compactors such as rollers and small machines known as whacker plates used for flattening out work areas. Operators may also use fork lifts and telescopic handlers to move or load building materials.

In addition to driving and operating machinery, operators change buckets and other attachments, maintain equipment and carry out daily safety checks.

A banksman/woman may work with the operator at ground level, checking the position and depth of an excavation, or directing the operator by signals or radio when visibility is restricted.

Hours and Environment

Plant operators usually work a 39-hour week, but working hours vary in order to meet deadlines. Unsocial hours are common.

Construction plant operators work outdoors in all weathers. Conditions can also be noisy, dirty and dusty. Some machines may be open to the weather while others have heated cabs. Some jobs involve working at heights.

Protective clothing including safety helmets, ear defenders and goggles are worn when necessary. The work can involve travel, both local or further afield for short or long periods. A full driving licence is often preferred.

Skills and Interests

To be a construction plant operator you should:

  • have a basic knowledge of motor mechanics
  • have good eyesight, hearing and concentration
  • have practical ability and be able to follow detailed instructions
  • be physically fit and agile for changing attachments and climbing in and out of cabs
  • be able to follow safe working practices
  • be able to work well as part of a team
  • be comfortable working at heights for some jobs.


There are no set academic entry requirements. To be a construction plant operator you must be at least 18.

Some GCSEs (A-G)/S grades (1-7), or equivalent in maths and English are useful for parts of the job that involve measurements and calculations. Equivalent vocational qualifications such as a Foundation/Intermediate GNVQ/GSVQs in Construction and the Built Environment may also be helpful although not essential.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority


Training is normally provided on the job with day or block release at local colleges or training providers leading to NVQ/SVQ qualifications. You work towards NVQs/SVQs in Specialised Plant and Machinery Operations (Construction) at levels 1 and 2.

As well as mandatory units, options include:

  • cranes and lifting equipment
  • earthmoving and extraction equipment
  • powered access (telescopic handlers) equipment
  • transporting loads
  • compaction equipment.
  • There may be the option to progress to NVQ Construction Plant and Equipment Supervision at Level 3.
  • For details on training provision, contact CITB-ConstructionSkills or the Construction Plant Hire Association below.

NB. Since January 2004, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card - formerly CTA/NPORS/Lantra Awards - will be the only accepted proof of an operator''s competence. Many sites insist you hold the card before you can work on them. For details, contact CITB-ConstructionSkills.

Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


Plant operators are employed by building or civil engineering contractors, local authorities and other public organisations, and plant hire companies. It may be possible to work abroad on contract or to progress to supervisory positions and construction site management.

Plant operators may also move into specialised areas of work such as estimating, or may become plant co-ordinators, selecting the machinery needed for each new project and evaluating new machinery. Self-employment is common, either as an owner-operator or on a labour-only basis for a contractor, with all equipment provided.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only. The Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) sets out wage rates annually.

For trainees, depending on the stage of training they are at, salaries range between £7,100 to £13,000.
With qualifications, plant operators can earn between £14,000 and £18,000.
Experienced plant operators can earn up to £25,000 a year.

If working on contracts, operators can increase their salary with overtime and bonus payments.

Further information

CITB-Construction Skills
Bircham Newton
Kings Lynn
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577

Construction Plant Hire Association
27/28 Newbury Street
Tel: 020 7796 3366

Other Useful Construction Plant Operator Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Construction Plant Operator job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Construction Plant Operator Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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