How Much Does an Excavator Operator Earn?Knowing your salary as an excavator operator is a basic sense in finding a job. It is natural for us to get motivated for having a high salary. Money, in most cases, is what get us driven for the job we’re doing.

If you are asking how much does an excavator operator earn, according to the latest May 1, 2019 report of, the hourly pay of an experienced operator is $19.93 or an average of $56,583 per year. While entry-level ones with less than 1 year of job experience can make as much as $16.02 hourly. The very decent salary you can earn is $25.00 to $30.00 hourly.

The pay you would get will depend on some factors such your experience doing the job, the state or location where you are working as an excavator operator, the education and licenses you’ve earned in your career, and other additional skill that could be applicable for the job. If you know how to operate other pieces of heavy equipment, that will be added advantage, the employer can offer you better pay.

The demand for excavator operator is projected to grow until the year 2026 due to the full swing of government-headed infrastructure projects and the boom of the construction industry.

The career road map you can take is to become a heavy equipment operator who is capable of operating different types of construction equipment. You can start taking rigorous training by enrolling in the school or apply for a heavy equipment apprenticeship program that is offered by a union, employer or college and could last 3-4 years.

How to Increase Your Salary?

There are certain factors that affect the salary you can make as an excavator operator. Just like any other professions, you have to know factors so that you can plan ahead. In this type of job, here are specifically the considerations you have to know so that you are in better position to get a higher salary:

Work in the state that offers a high salary

The location is the major influencer when it comes to how much you can earn as an excavator operator. The salary you would get may vary widely depending on the city/state where you are working. Currently, the states of Illinois, Wyoming, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, New Jersey, and Washington are top 10 states that have a high salary for heavy equipment operators. There will always be a pay differential, the labor market and cost of living differences are what influence this differential. As a general rule, the pay is going to be higher in larger cities/states than in rural areas.

Earn the certification and licensees

Having the required certification and license also affects how much you can make as an excavator. If you have the certification, it will help the employer to screen the new hires, analyze job performance and evaluate the employees. If you will work in the construction industry, having an NCCER certification will definitely boost your chance of landing a good paying job.

Getting certified involves passing a written test and performance evaluation. The NCCER certification is a national certification that will help you in many ways because the employer will ask for it and when you have it you are at the better position to negotiate your salary as an excavator operator and it can set you apart from other candidates vying for the same position you’re applying.

Earn Experience and Education

It’s been obvious that the more experience you have, the better the salary you get - and that’s absolutely true. Your experience and education play a big factor in how much you can earn doing the job of an excavator operator. There are stages you will go through: entry-level, early career, mid-career, experienced and late-career. The more experience and education you earn the higher you climb the ladder. And as you gain experience, you also earn reputation, but of course, you need to be good at the job you’re doing. The bottom line is you’ll earn what you’re worth the company.

Negotiating Your Salary with the Employer

You might find it hard to negotiate your salary if you’re an entry-level excavator operator but still, you have the option to talk it with your employer. You have the right to demand a better salary especially when you know you have the required certification and education.

The approach is to be realistic with your request, you would want to be frowned by the employer. If you know you’re still an entry-level worker, it is highly unlikely for the employer to raise your pay very high. You just want to be paid based on the perceived value of yourself. You can begin doing some research by asking some colleagues if the number you have in mind is fair for both parties. You can also research the current salary of the excavator operator, this position falls under the heavy equipment operator, here’s the current report of for your reference.

You also need to remember that most employers stick to the strict policy when hiring candidates. They don’t do negotiations although some will ask your preferred number.

Always confer and negotiate if the hiring manager says the magic number. It will never hurt if you try negotiating your salary expectation.

Can You Make a Living as an Excavator Operator?

As an excavator operator, you have a wide variety of responsibilities and tasks on the company you’re working for. Your job could mainly involve digging holes and trenches to lay the foundation of a construction project. You could also be involved in moving of earth materials and other debris in the workplace. You could also perform demolishing and landscaping jobs. There are many different tasks you can be assigned to which means your job as an excavator is important because you play a key role in the organization. What does that mean to you? You won’t be running out of employment opportunities even you are specialized in the operation of excavator equipment.

There are different jobs you can perform and do. You can work of course in the construction site, logging industry and in mining and even in heavy equipment rental company. The opportunities are endless. Not only that, there is a good job outlook being an operator. According to the BLS report, there is 12 percent projected growth every year until the year 2026 for this type of job

If working with heavy equipment and in outdoor is something you are passionate about, considering becoming an excavator operator. The opportunity to work in different types of businesses and industries can give a satisfying and long-term career – and that’s what everyone wants.

To Make a Finalization

The excavator operator salary is decent. You can make a good living out of the job. You just have to have the required certification and experience to start this career. The job outlook is great. You can create a fruitful career in this profession as the demand for excavator operator never ceases and as a matter of fact, the demand continues to climb.

We wish you good luck in your career! Again, plan ahead and be prepared to what it takes to become an excavator operator.