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Operating Engineers

Expand/collapse Click here for a list of occupations to which this description applies.

CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT OPERATOR HOISTING ENGINEER
EQUIPMENT OPERATOR (OPERATING ENGINEER) INDUSTRIAL MOBILE EQUIPMENT MECHANIC
FACILITIES CUSTODIAL SERVICES TECHNICIAN TECHNICAL ENGINEER
HEAVY DUTY REPAIRMAN MECHANIC  

The Work
Operating engineers operate heavy construction equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, pavers, trench excavators and many other kinds of equipment used in constructing buildings, dams, airports and highways. They also work in the sand and gravel, cement and asphalt industries; in the shipyards; on the water with dredges, oil refineries, oil pipelines, sewer and water construction, ports of major cities, municipal work with cities and counties, landscaping, scrap metal work, and the forest products industry. Operating engineer apprentices can also work in the mechanical field as heavy-duty truck and equipment mechanics and in the field of technical engineer (surveyor).

Working Conditions
The work is outdoors and can depend on the weather. Bad weather can shut down jobs, generally the machinery is not operated in heavy snow or rain. The average operator works 1,200 to 1,500 hours per year; some get less work, depending upon their job skills. The union hall dispatches operating engineers to jobs unless you are recalled by a former employer, you must go to the job you are called for. Apprentices are sometimes required to commute long distances or to relocate for a few weeks or months to obtain gainful employment. Apprentices must be flexible and adaptable to different environments, job sites and requirements.

The Apprenticeship
This program requires 6,000 to 8,352 hours of on-the-job training with an additional 144 to 201 hours of supplemental classroom training per year.

Apprenticeship Entry Requirements

  • At least 18 years old.
  • High school diploma or GED.
  • Physically able to perform work of the trade.
  • Washington State driver's license and dependable transportation.
  • Applicants must be able to read, write and speak English.
  • Applicants must be a resident of the geographical area covered by the trade prior to application.
  • Mechanic applicants must have two years of vocational training in the trade or equivalent.
  • Pass a substance abuse test.
  • Successfully complete the pre-employment safety and orientation procedure.

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