Keen to explore all your career options – including a position as a plant operator?
Luckily, the team of expert tutors at SB Skills Solutions have helped countless companies upskill their employees as well as numerous individuals obtain essential qualifications to achieve their dream job in the construction industry and further afield.
From the average plant operator salary in the UK to which qualifications, skills, and training courses can help you to become a plant operator, we explain everything you want to know about this profession.
What do construction plant operator jobs involve?
As a plant operator, you’ll be required to carry out a wide range of tasks. Primarily, this will include the operation, monitoring, and maintenance of heavy machinery like diggers, bulldozers, cranes, and excavators.
With help from these machines, you may be asked to move, excavate, lift, or crush building materials or organic matter.
In the event that these machines stop working or develop inefficiencies, a plant operator will be on hand to rectify any issues and support productivity. This role tends to also cover the maintenance of these machines, ensuring they’re in good working order.
A more comprehensive list of plant operator responsibilities can include:
- Supervising and overseeing operations
- Monitoring process parameters
- Performing maintenance tests
- Ensuring safety rules are followed
- Operating heavy machinery and equipment
- Transporting a variety of materials
A construction plant operator may have more specific daily duties such as:
- Operating forklifts, bulldozers, excavators, trucks, and more heavy machinery
- Transporting and storing building materials and earth
- Carrying out safety checks
- Level out working areas
- Communicate using radio signals
What are the working conditions like?
A construction plant operator will often be required to work outdoors in a range of weather conditions. Construction sites aren’t squeaky clean like an office or control room. You may work at heights such as operating a tower crane or a large excavator.
Instead, the working conditions for a construction plant operator tend to be significantly dirtier and nosier than alternative plant operator positions. Due to the nature of the building construction industry, you may also be required to work nights or weekends in order to deliver the necessary progress within the set construction deadline and budget.
How much does a plant operator earn?
According to information published by Totaljobs, a plant operator salary in the UK varies between £27,681 and £37,500, with an average annual salary of £32,500. It’s worth bearing in mind that the exact salary for this position will naturally vary depending on the location of the job and the industry that you work in.
Higher-paying positions are more accessible to individuals that upskill themselves, allowing them to work in a wider range of relevant industries. This is because plant operators tend to specialise in just one type of equipment.
What skills do I need to become a plant operator?
Unsure whether you have the necessary skills to become a plant operator? Below, we list some of the most common skills plant operators possess that can help them to succeed in both this role and their chosen industry. These plant operator skills include:
- An interest in heavy machinery and equipment
- Ability to operate, fix, and maintain machinery
- Understanding of engineering, maths, and computers
- Problem-solving capabilities
- Ability to use relevant computer software
- Strong attention to detail
- Excellent teamwork skills
- Ability to work independently
- Able to work well under pressure
Construction plant operators must also possess certain physical skills like excellent movement and coordination.
What qualifications do construction plant operators need?
In England, if you want to become a construction plant operator, you could obtain either your Level 2 NVQ (National Vocational Qualification – practical, work-based qualifications) in Construction Plant Operations, your Level 2 Construction Plant Operative Apprenticeship qualification, or your Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment.
In addition to these qualifications, you may also need to apply for your blue CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) Competence Card or your CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) accreditation to work on a construction site as a plant operator.
What courses and training can I take to become a plant operator?
There are many routes you can take to become a plant operator. Some of these avenues involve applying for an apprenticeship, while others require work experience in the relevant industry to get you started.
To help you determine which route might be right for you, we explore each of these avenues in more detail.
College or training provider
As mentioned above, a course from either a college or training provider in Level 2 Certificate in Construction Plant Operations or Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment can provide you with the relevant qualifications to become a plant operator.
While these courses will cover most of the required skills to join this profession, on-site experience is also crucial to obtaining a construction plant operator role, so many applicants will seek out a trainee position on a construction site following completion of the course.
For the level 2 course, you’ll need two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), while a level 3 course requires four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C). Without GCSEs, you must hold an equivalent qualification.
Working your way up is one of the more common ways you can become a plant operator. Often, if you’re enthusiastic enough and willing to work hard to obtain the relevant plant operator skills and qualifications, many employers will consider offering individual work as a general labourer with training opportunities.
They may request certain GCSEs grades (in subjects like English, maths, and technology), but they can provide you with invaluable on-site experience with heavy machinery and equipment.
Once you’ve gained enough experience and knowledge of the construction industry, they may contact a training provider to help you obtain the relevant qualifications to become a plant operator.
Career path and progression
Once you’ve managed to secure a plant operator position, there is still room for career progression. Often, one of the best ways to both increase your earning potential and develop your career in this industry is to specialise in a broader range of machines and equipment. This will allow you to work in different plants and positions.
Contact SB Skills Solutions
If the potential for career progression and the day-to-day duties of a construction plant operator seems like a good fit for your skills and professional aspirations, why not get in touch with the knowledgeable team at SB Skills Solutions to find out more about our plant operator course?
Our qualified team of experienced assessors can help you to obtain your NVQ Level 2 Plant Operations qualification, and by extension, achieve your blue CPCS Competence Card.
Recognised by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) and NPORS this NVQ can increase your earning potential while providing you with sought-after skills, experience, and competence in plant operation.
With the right support, we can ensure you learn the relevant skills and knowledge to become a plant operator. To find out more about the contents of the plant operator course, our prices, or alternative construction training courses, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team today.
To speak directly to a member of our team, simply give us a call on 01695 558420. We also welcome enquiries submitted via email to email@example.com. After receiving your plant operator course enquiry, we’ll ensure a prompt response to your query or a schedule a call to learn more about your training requirements.