Is plant operator a good career?


Wondering if being a plant operator is a good career? The answer really depends on your skills, interests and life goals.

But to help you figure it out, we explain the benefits of the plant operator job in the blog below. Read on to learn if this is the right career for you.

What does a plant operator do?

Plant operators are in charge of running heavy machinery and equipment that is used in industrial and manufacturing processes.

In civil construction, they can drive earthmoving machines to level, excavate, move and load earth, rock and other material.

Over the course of their careers, these operators can specialise in the operation of a particular plant type or learn expertise with a variety of equipment and machinery.

Digging trenches, excavating, crushing rocks, transporting materials, and a number of other activities are all possible.

Mobile plant operators drive earthmoving equipment like:

  • Backhoes
  • Bulldozers
  • Excavators
  • front-end loaders
  • graders, scrapers
  • skid-steer loaders
  • rollers
  • forklifts 

Tasks and duties

If you are thinking of working as a plant operator, your day to day would involve a mix of the following tasks.

You would:

  • get machinery ready and in position before operation
  • choose, fit and remove machine parts
  • do tasks based on controls for safely and efficiently
  • move machinery safely to, from and around work sites
  • keep track of gauges and controls to make sure machines run smoothly
  • work from drawings and specs
  • listen to verbal instruction from supervisors
  • clean, lubricate, service and refuel machinery
  • when needed, do some small repairs.

Aside from the main industry of civil construction, plant operators also work in mining & resources, and agriculture.

Skills needed

Due to the nature of these working environments, a strong emphasis on safety, observation, alertness, communication and efficiency is extremely important.

As a plant operator, you’d do most of your work outside. And because the job is all about operating machinery, it’s a good fit for physically fit people who like doing practical, hands-on work.

Plant operator salary

According to Indeed, plant operators can make a decent income.

The average plant operator in Melbourne earns $33.62 per hour or $60,694 per year.

And aside from salary considerations, job opportunities look promising.

According to the government’s JobOutlook, earth moving plant operator jobs are experiencing moderate growth, which is a sign that there are plenty of jobs available.

How to become a plant operator

Regardless of whether you already work in the construction industry or want to enter the industry, one of the best ways to become a plant operator is by doing a certificate III.

When you do the Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations (RII30820), you can either join the civil construction industry or if you’re already working in it, start doing plant operator jobs.

This certification will train you to operate civil construction equipment such as excavators, skid steers, front end loaders, backhoes, and dozers as a professional operator.

The Cert III in Civil Construction Plant Operations is a hands-on course that gives you the skills and experience you need to do a variety of manual tasks and operate machinery on construction sites.

It’s taught in a classroom setting with a combination of classroom, group discussions, and individual study.

Benefits of plant operator job

If you’ve been wondering whether plant operator is a good career, there are a few things you should consider.

This would be a great career for you if you would rather not spend many years studying at university, and if you prefer to do a certificate and dive into work.

If the thought of working with your hands rather than on a desk appeals, then this could be the right career choice for you.

Remember, you’d have to be okay with working in hot or cold weather, in the wind or sunshine.

And if you have the skills and enthusiasm for the job, you could benefit from becoming a plant operator. 

There are an abundance of work opportunities currently available, with predictions that these job opportunities will continue to grow.

So if you’re looking for stability and security, this could be a good choice.
Considering doing a Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations (RII30820)? Give us a call on 1300 LEGEND to learn more about your education pathways and career opportunities. Or send us a message and a course advisor will get back to you soon.