Plant operator

Plant operator

Plant operators use heavy machinery to dig, lift and move materials on a building site.

The Role

  • In charge of machines such as bulldozers and dumper trucks, mobile elevated work platforms, giant cranes, compactors and excavators (JCBs). 
  • Working outdoors and sometimes at height if using a tower crane or one of the larger excavators
  • With this type of role, you normally become an expert in one type of large machinery, and do everything from driving and operating the machinery to keeping it running properly


  • Newly trained plant operators can earn in the region of £10,000 - £20,000
  • Trained with experience plant operators can earn in the region of £20,000 - £30.000
  • Senior plant operators can earn in the region of £30,000 - £40,000

Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Self-employed plant operators set their own pay rates.

Qualifications and Training

There are no formal entry requirements to train as a construction plant operator but some employers ask for GCSEs or Standard Grades/National 4/5s in maths, English and design and technology, or equivalent vocational qualifications.

Construction companies and construction agencies often want people with some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, think about working as a general construction operative to start with. Your boss may then train you as a plant operator.

An apprenticeship is a good way into this construction career. As an apprentice, you study towards SVQ/NVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations, which covers how to operate the machine along with training in safety legislation, regulations and codes of practice, your roles and responsibilities, maintenance and inspection and protective equipment.


Check out the latest Plant Operator vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary. 

Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!

Find out more

For information on the Plant Operator role in Scotland please visit the Skills Development Scotland website My World of Work.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which role is right for you.

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