Earthmoving plant operators operate machinery to excavate earth, ore and rock, break up pavement, road, rock and obstructions, move and load earth, rock and debris, and level, smooth and compact surfaces in construction and other projects.

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.

Where earthmoving plant operators are employed

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.


Full-time earthmoving plant operators in South Australia generally earn between $800 and $1,249 per week.

Graph of pay scale for Earthmoving plant operator

Job prospects

In 2011 there were 2,221 people employed full-time as earthmoving plant operators, compared with 1,961 in 2006.

How to become one

You can work as a mobile plant operator without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on-the-job.

See courses related to this occupation

You can also become a mobile plant operator through a traineeship in surface extraction operations or mobile crane operations, or an apprenticeship or traineeship in civil construction plant operations. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require year 10. For more information see apprenticeships and traineeships.  Ask your career adviser about starting some of this training in school.

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Career information has been sourced from government publications, see data sources for more information.

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