Operating Engineers Job Description video

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Operating engineers quite literally operate power-driven construction machines like shovels, cranes, tractors, bulldozers, pile drivers, concrete mixers, and industrial pumps. If something is massive and heavy, and if it requires a big, powerful machine, an operating engineer will probably be involved. Work sites include building and road construction projects, mines, steel mills, warehouses, and heavy manufacturing plants. Typically, operating engineers move materials over short distances--around a factory, a warehouse, or a construction site, or on and off ships and trucks. Usually, they are identified by the kind of machine they operate. A high school diploma or its technical school equivalent is important, but so too is excellent hand-eye-foot coordination, since this is essential for operating the levers and foot pedals of most big machines. The best way to enter this profession is usually through a formal, three-year union-management apprenticeship program. As an apprentice, you'll learn to run many different types of machines. Having a variety of skills can often lead to more and better job opportunities once the program is completed. But the key to success is to learn to run and manipulate big machines with all the precision of a surgical instrument. Not many people can pick up a two-ton boulder in a power shovel's bucket and lay it down someplace else in the precise position called for by the site supervisor. But for an experienced operating engineer, it's all in a day's work.

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