How to become a Mobile Plant Operator

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.

Personal requirements of a Mobile Plant Operator

  • Enjoy practical and manual activities
  • Able to follow precise instructions
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Good eyesight (may be corrected)
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Able to work without supervision

Education & Training for a Mobile Plant Operator

You can work as a mobile plant operator without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. You can also become a mobile plant operator through a traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Additional Information

Industry standards often require mobile plant operators to hold a licence to Perform High Risk Work issued by the WorkCover or WorkSafe body in each state and territory. To gain a licence, you will need to register with an approved Registered Training Organisation and work under the supervision of a licensed operator, and keep an approved logbook to record competencies achieved during training. Assessment by an independent assessor will then be required. You must be 18 years of age to obtain a licence. However, training may commence at a younger age. All those who work in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (CIC).

Duties & Tasks of a Mobile Plant Operator

Mobile plant operators:

  • prepare machines for operation
  • load and unload equipment from low loaders and move it around worksites
  • select, change and operate special attachments such as winches, scrub clearers, rippers, pile drivers and rock-breaking hammers
  • work from drawings and markers under the direction of supervisors and engineers
  • back-fill trenches
  • break up paving, rock and similar material by operating hydraulic or pneumatic breakers
  • excavate or scrape earth, rock or rubble to the correct level and alignment
  • load trucks with excavated fill
  • drive machines to and from worksites
  • service equipment by cleaning, lubricating and refuelling it, and make minor adjustments and repairs when necessary
  • maintain duty of care for other users and work to occupational health and safety requirements.

Working conditions for a Mobile Plant Operator

The work conditions for mobile plant operators can be hot, muddy, dusty and noisy, but most earthmoving machines have soundproofed and air conditioned cabs for the operator.

Employment Opportunities for a Mobile Plant Operator

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.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT ACT 0.5%

NSW NSW 35.4%

NT NT 0.8%

QLD QLD 21.3%

SA SA 5.9%

TAS TAS 3.6%

VIC VIC 16.5%

WA WA 16.1%

Hours worked:



Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 96.7%

Female 3.3%

Education level:

Not completed Year 10: 2.7%

Not completed Year 12: 34.8%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 27.7%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 26.3%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 3.4%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 5.1%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 1%

20-24 - 5.5%

25-34 - 16.9%

35-44 - 24.3%

45-54 - 22.6%

55-59 - 12.2%

60-64 - 11.5%

65 and Over - 6.1%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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