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Common Construction Occupations – Plant Operator

Plant operatorWith over 700 job roles there are a multitude of construction related occupations available.

This article will detail the popular role of construction Plant Operator, observing the training required, the salary expectations and the career opportunities.

Working as a Construction Plant Operator: The Training

Pursuing a career as a plant operator does not always require a candidate to hold a construction qualification however some employers will require a candidate to possess good GCSE’s in maths, design and technology, science or English. Alternatively vocational qualifications such as a BTEC Certificate of Diploma in construction will also suffice.

Experience is very sought after in the construction industry and if you can gain some on site experience as a labourer this could lead to your employer offering you the opportunity to train as a plant operator. In addition previous experience in driving forklifts or LGV’s may also give you an advantage.

A construction Apprenticeship is a great way to pursue a plant operator vocation and if you can secure an Apprenticeship you will be able to gain practical experience and learn on the job. Generally construction apprentices would pursue an NVQ qualification whilst they work in their chosen field. In this case an NVQ level 2 in Plant Operations would be the relevant qualification. With more practical experience an NVQ level 3 in Plant and Equipment Supervision can be pursued.

Employment Opportunities

As a competent and experienced plant operator you can find work with building and civil engineering contractors as wells as plant hire firms and some local authorities. With further experience and qualifications you could progress to the role of plant co-ordinator or plant sales; there are also opportunities to pursue a site supervisor or site manager role.

Although the construction industry is currently in a state of regrowth there are still a number of opportunities for plant operators available on projects such as inner city regeneration or rail related developments.

Possible Income

Trainee Plant Operators can earn up to £13k per annum whilst they complete their training.  Once qualified, Plant Operators can earn anything from £15k to £19k per annum. Highly experienced Plant Operators and Plant Co-ordinators can expect an income of between £20k and £26k per annum. Overtime and allowances can increase a Plant Operators income and of course if you are a self employed or run your own Plant firm you can stipulate your own rates.

The Work

Plant operators work with the machinery and equipment that is typically used on construction sites, highways projects, railway projects and forestry. These machines may include; bulldozers and dumper trucks, mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs), static, mobile and rough ground cranes, compactors and excavators (JCBs). You may also unload and move building materials around a site using forklifts and telescopic handlers.

In addition to driving and operating plant machinery, plant operators also change buckets, shovels and other plant equipment attachments as well as maintaining plant equipment and carrying out daily safety checks.

Many plant operators work alongside banksman who check the depth and position of excavation sites at ground level. A banksman will also direct a plant operator using a radio or arm signals if the visibility is at all restricted.

Card Schemes

Plant OperatorAs a Plant Operator you can apply for the CSCS affiliate card known as the CPCS card or the Construction Plant Competence Scheme card. This will ensure you are eligible to work on all UK sites currently complying with the scheme; this figure currently stands at over 80%.

You may also apply for a Powered Access Licence (PAL), which proves you can operate mobile elevated work platforms on a construction site. Most applicants for a CPCS Card will need to apply for the NDTG CSCS Test

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