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Backhoe Operators Have A Tough Job

One of the most highly skilled heavy equipment operators is that of a backhoe operator. Where motor graders are often found finishing a job, backhoe operators work from start to finish and often require high levels of precision.

If you consider some of the types of work undertaken by backhoe operators you may gain an idea of how precise they need to be. Take a standard backyard inground swimming pool. Because of the tight spaces, the only equipment suited to the job is that of a backhoe. They are required to dig the hole precisely to plans. This often includes a slope to accommodate the various pool depths and either dead straight or curved walls. This takes a lot precision and attention to detail.

Swimming pools are one thing. What about an archeological dig? We may not have archeological digs in every backyard but when they do occur, a backhoe operator is often called in to get things started. Again, it takes a lot of attention, a lot of precision, and the ability to treat the dig with a lot of care. This takes the effort of a highly trained and skilled operator.

Back to the normal everyday type of work undertaken by backhoe operators. Whether digging foundations, a trench for pipes and cables, or clearing debris, the same degree of precision and attention to detail is required. Get the foundations wrong and it can cause all sorts of problems and a trench dug from point A to C is useless if B is where the trench needs to be.

The job outlook for backhoe operators is not as prosperous as bulldozer or grader operators. National growth is expected to be around 4% – around 2500 new operators nationally each year. This also takes into account the number of operators who leave the industry. In yesterday’s post I highlighted grader operators and Illinois was looking at around 300 new operators each year. For backhoe operators, they expect growth at around 180 new operators this year falling to around 100 new operators each year after that. The trend seems to be similar in most other states with a high demand forecast for this year and a general taper over the next five years.

Wages for backhoe operators are also varied, ranging from as little as $31,000 to just over $65,000 per year. The median is $41,000 ( The number of operators employed in the mining sector is expected to decline over the next five years although as the economy starts to pickup, this could change dramatically. Overall, the employment and wage outlook is positive, with a high rise in vacancies expected over the next six to twelve months.

If you have ever considered a career as a specialist backhoe operator then there is no better time to train than right now. If you act now, you can take advantage of predicted short term growth in the industry. Fortunately, backhoe training is often part of a general heavy equipment training program so you will also gain experience and knowledge on other heavy equipment – being multi-skilled is always a bonus in today’s workplace.

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