What is a Plant Operator?


Plant operators are responsible for operating heavy machinery and equipment used in industrial and manufacturing processes—otherwise known as plant. This can involve digging trenches, excavating, crushing rocks, transporting materials and many other tasks.

These operators may specialise in the operation of a specific plant type or develop skills with a variety of equipment and machinery over the course of their career. The role is heavily reliant on operation and control, making it a suitable career path for physically capable individuals who enjoy completing practical, hands-on tasks.

What is the role of a plant operator?

Plant operators have the following responsibilities:

  • Preparing and positioning machinery prior to operation
  • Choosing, fitting, operating and removing any attachments
  • Using controls to perform tasks safely and efficiently
  • Manoeuvring machinery to, from and around work sites
  • Monitoring gauges and controls to ensure machinery is operating correctly
  • Working from drawings, specifications and verbal instruction
  • Cleaning, lubricating, servicing and refuelling machinery
  • Performing minor repairs if and when required

Where do plant operators work?

Work is mainly conducted outdoors, so working conditions vary depending on weather and other aspects of the physical environment. Plant operators can be employed in construction, mining, agriculture and a variety of other industries—due to the nature of these working environments, a strong emphasis on safety, observation, alertness, communication and efficiency is extremely important.


How do you become a plant operator?

There are two major pathways to a career in plant operation, both suitable in different circumstances. Many people who are already employed enter the industry by earning a Certificate III through a traineeship or an apprenticeship, which involves both hands-on training and some theoretical education. While there is no formal prerequisite for this pathway, you are typically expected to have completed year 10 as a minimum. Employed individuals can also undertake on the job training and assessment to earn qualification for operation of a specific type of equipment or machinery.

Those who aren’t already employed in construction, earthmoving or a similar industry are able to study a course in plant operation and complete an assessment based on the relevant regulations. It’s important to note that each state and territory has unique regulations outlining the requirements of becoming a plant operator.

Is being a plant operator a good job?

Plant operators almost always work full-time and are required on all sorts of projects in a variety of industries, meaning there are opportunities with private and public entities in both urban and rural areas all over Australia. Depending on the size of the project or the company you work for, it’s possible to find opportunities for promotion to more senior roles in plant operation—especially when additional training is undertaken.

Prepare to become a civil construction worker with the Cert III in Civil Construction Plant Operations (RII30820)

As a registered training organisation, Builders Academy can help you prepare you to become a skilled operator working in civil construction plant operations. Our Cert III in Civil Construction Plant Operations (RII30820) opens pathways to careers including leading hand, site maintenance construction worker, mobile plant operator, earth moving plant operator, civil construction machine operator, and other civil construction plant operator jobs.

Throughout this course, you will gain the relevant theoretical knowledge and practical construction skills to:

  • Operate heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment in a civil construction site
  • Monitor and observe gauges and controls in machines
  • Carry out manual excavation
  • Handle infrastructure materials and power tools used in manufacturing and industrial sites

Once you successfully complete training for this course, you will be equipped with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills necessary to work in plant operations as a civil construction worker. You can also take your career to the next level with further study.

Got questions about the Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations (RII30820)? Give us a call today on 1300 534 363 (LEGEND) or complete the online form, and one of our course advisors will get in touch soon.

This article has been updated and republished on 5th April 2023