First of all, congratulations on your decision to embark on this career as a plant and machinery operator.

With the expenditure allotted to put up more infrastructures in Australia, it is no wonder the demand for talents like you likely to increase as well.

Mobile plant operators are those we commonly see at the construction and mine sites. They drive excavators, bulldozers, scrapers, front-end loaders, backhoes, graders, skid-steer loaders, and rollers to level ground, excavate trenches, move earth, and load and transport rock and other construction materials.

With the expertise you put in the job, expect that the pay is good and the demand growth is great – what else you can ask for in a job?

But becoming a plant operator in Australia is not without effort.

You have to spend time in getting trained and licenced – this is what we are going to discuss in this article.

You need to know how to start this career - we are going to simplify everything you need to know so that you won’t have a hard time following.

Without further ado, let's start... Read on...

How to Become a Plant & Machinery Operator in Australia



How to Become a Plant Operator – Steps You Need to Take

  1. Know the equipment you intend to operate and be specialized to determine the competency unit you need to earn. The list of competency unit for the equipment you want to operate is listed below. Please do remember you can specialize in one or several of these equipment.

  2. Find a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in the state or territory where you’re planning to work or settle in. Once you know the equipment you want to operate, it is now time to find an approved training provider also known as RTO where you can take the training for your chosen equipment. In the menu below or in the side of this webpage, click the location where you are in, there you find a directory of RTOs in every state or territory in Australia.

  3. Take the on-the-job training and log your experience hours. There will be required number of hours to complete the on-the-job training part; the hours depend on the type of mobile plant equipment you’re training for. It is also important to log your hours on the logbook as proof of practical experience throughout the training period.

  4. Once you have attended the training duration and completed the course, the RTO will issue a statement of attainment and wallet-size operator card, these are the documents to show that you are licensed and competent enough to operate the equipment.

Back in the day where you need submit application to a government institution to be issued with a licence, now, all companies in Australia adhere to Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 that says verification of competency of operator and licensing now on the shoulder of the person conducting a business or undertaking or PCBU.

They are the site managers and business owners. Just what said above, it is the PCBU’s duty to make sure that operators they’re handling are trained and competent to operate the equipment.



Competency Units You Can Earn as a Plant Operator in Australia

• RIIMPO318F Conduct civil construction skid steer loader operations
• RIIMPO321F Conduct civil construction wheeled front end loader operations
• RIIMPO317F Conduct roller operations
• RIIMPO319E Conduct backhoe/loader operations
• NOHSC7019 Certificate of Competence
• RIIMPO301E Conduct hydraulic excavator operations
• RIIMPO320F Conduct civil construction excavator operations
• RIIMPO3O1D Conduct Excavator Operations for mining
• RIIMPO323E Conduct civil construction dozer operations

Planning to Work in Construction Industry? You Need CIC Card...

Those individuals who want to work in construction must have a Construction Induction Card (CIC) and in order to be in possession of this, you must take a safety induction course. The CIC card is a strict requirement that will be asked from you by an employer.

If you want to obtain this credential, contact an RTO that offers such a course in Australia. Training happens at the facility of an RTO, this course is named as Prepare to Work Safely in the Construction Industry CPCCWHS1001’ training.

Other licences that you may be required to be in possession of in order to work in the construction are:

  • Manual Drivers Licence – having this licence allows you to drive a vehicle with a certain gross vehicle mass (GVM) and carry a number of passengers.

  • Medium Rigid Licence (MR) – this licence allows you to drive a vehicle with 2 axles and a gross vehicle mass (GVM) greater than 8,000 kg and tow trailer.

  • Heavy Rigid Licence (HR) – This licence allows you to drive heavy vehicles with three or more axles and a gross vehicle mass greater than 8,000 kg.

  • Forklift licence – in Australia, the operation of forklift is considered a high-risk work, therefore anyone who intends to operate this equipment must have a licence issued by WorkCover or WorkSafe.

Please do remember that you don’t need all of these, depending on the employer and the nature of the job you will be doing, you may be required to have one or several of these.



Requirements You Need to be Plant/Machinery Operator

  • Operators may also be required to complete certain checks, including drug and alcohol tests, national police checks, and psychometric (aptitude) tests.

  • To apply for a licence/ticket, you must be at least 18 years old, however, training can start at a younger age.

  • You must have a good level of physical fitness since the nature of the job is physically demanding. You will work outdoor in hot and boisterous conditions where dust and debris may be present.

  • You should have good eyesight. Eye check may be performed prior to commencing work. Wearing corrective lenses and prescription is required if vision found to have some problems.

  • You must commit to the company’s safety standards. Working in a hazardous place with heavy is detrimental to the safety, it is therefore you need to follow strict safety procedures in place. And depending on the workplace you will be working in, you must also follow security protocols.

  • You must have a valid driver’s licence and have your own transport to be able to come to work. You can be assigned in far-flung location or just nearby, thus, have reliable transport is a must-have.

  • You must be able to work as part of the crew and with minimal supervision. You must also be able to communicate issues to the supervisor and colleagues for immediate corrective action.



Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Can Shorten the Time to Join the Workforce

Do you believe you have prior experience working with heavy machines and plant equipment? If so, you can be tested through the assessment process called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

Doing so will eliminate the need to take logbook hours or practical experience shortening the time to join the workforce and start a job as a plant equipment operator. This means you can save resources by completing qualifications in the soonest possible time.

Prior experience can be attained through school activities, work-related activities, life experience, volunteering or other means. If you’ve handled plant and civil equipment as part of your previous job responsibilities, you can use that as part of the RPL. If you want to get assessed, contact an RTO in your area.

If you want to avail of RPL, it is a good idea to assess yourself first and think if the skills you’ve gained is up to the equipment operation industry standards. If so, contact an RTO and work with an assessor to determine the evidence you have and whether it goes through the present criteria.

Another Way to Work as an Operator is Through the Verification of Competency (VOC)

Put VOC as a brief assessment of an operator’s theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the operation of heavy machines and plant equipment.

VOC is some sort of a way employers use to meet their obligation under the Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S) to ensure their operators are competent to handle the operation of the equipment they’re trained to do so.

If you engage in a new site or work for a new company, the employer may ask you to have complete a VOC course first for the specific equipment you will be operating or to undertake a particular activity.

VOC courses are taken by those operators who already have a ticket, licence or unit of competency to determine if they meet the current industry standards. The courses are offered by an RTO, upon successful completion of the VOC course enables you to receive a statement of attainment indicating the tasks and equipment verified.

The VOC course can be completed in as short as 1-2 days. Having this credential will certainly elevate your career as an operator. Spend some time and effort earning this credential.



For Those Operators Who Want to Update Skills, Here are the Courses You Can Take

To improve employment prospects and marketability, you can take an additional courses to upgrade your skills. Here are your choices:

  • Certificate II in Process Manufacturing
  • Certificate III in Process Plant Operations
  • Certificate III in Civil Construction (Plant Operations)
  • Certificate III in Surface Extraction

To Conclude This

Australia has much demand for talents like you. You’re on the right track in having a stable career and a better future.