How to become a Mobile Plant Operator

Mobile plant operators drive backhoes, bulldozers, excavators, front-end loaders, graders, scrapers, skid-steer loaders, rollers and forklift trucks to level, excavate, move and load earth, rock and other material.

Personal requirements of a Mobile Plant Operator

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Able to follow precise instructions
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Good eyesight (may be corrected)
  • Good hand–eye coordination
  • Able to work without supervision

Education & Training for a Mobile Plant Operator

You can work as a mobile plant operator without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a mobile plant operator through a traineeship in Surface Extraction Operations, Mobile Crane Operations or Civil Construction Plant Operations. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Mobile Plant Operator

Mobile plant operators may perform the following tasks:

  • prepare machines for operation
  • load and unload equipment from low loaders and move it around worksites
  • select, change and operate special attachments such as winches, scrub clearers, rippers, pile drivers and rock-breaking hammers
  • work from drawings and markers under the direction of supervisors and engineers
  • back-fill trenches
  • break up paving, rock and similar material by operating hydraulic or pneumatic breakers
  • excavate or scrape earth, rock or rubble to the correct level and alignment
  • load trucks with excavated fill
  • drive machines to and from worksites
  • service equipment by cleaning, lubricating and refuelling it, and make minor adjustments and repairs when necessary
  • maintain duty of care for other users and work to occupational health and safety requirements.

Working conditions for a Mobile Plant Operator

The work conditions for mobile plant operators can be hot, muddy, dusty and noisy, but most earthmoving machines have soundproofed and air conditioned cabs for the operator.

Employment Opportunities for a Mobile Plant Operator

Major employers include earthmoving and civil construction contractors, private developers, mining and minerals processing companies and government authorities. Work projects vary in size and location. Sites may be located in the city, suburbs or country and are sometimes in remote areas. Some plant operators may own and operate equipment on a contract hire basis, although the cost of equipment is high.

Additional Information
Industry standards often require mobile plant operators to hold a licence to Perform High Risk Work issued by the WorkCover or WorkSafe body in each state and territory. To gain a licence, you will need to register with an approved Registered Training Organisation and work under the supervision of a licensed operator, and keep an approved logbook to record competencies achieved during training. Assessment by an independent assessor will then be required. You must be 18 years of age to obtain a licence. However, training may commence at a younger age. All those who work in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (CIC).
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