How to Become A Backhoe Operator

Backhoes are a type of excavating equipment consisting of a digger bucket attached to an articulating arm. The arm itself can be attached to any appropriate vehicle that can manage the weight and properly control the arm from, such as a tractor or back loader.

If you are interested in receiving backhoe operator training, contact TET. We offer online, in-person, and onsite backhoe training.

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What Is a Backhoe Operator?

Backhoe operators are individuals trained and experienced in the safe and proper use of heavy equipment. Their work involves controlling the backhoe to excavate, dig and move material on the worksite. They fall into OSHA’s classification of heavy equipment operators.

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What Are the Skills and Abilities Required for a Backhoe Operator?

Untrained backhoe operators should be equipped with some of these skills to help them fulfill their roles better:

  • Technical knowledge – There is a large mechanical component in safely and properly operating a backhoe. Managing mechanical issues as they arise will help them work more efficiently. These skills can be learned on the job, or through training.
  • Physical stamina – Backhoes generally have high mobility, and can thus be operated in a variety of weather conditions and terrains. Backhoe operators should be able to work for extended periods in these varying conditions.
  • Health and safety – Backhoe operation, just as all jobs, comes with hazards from the work being done. Backhoe operators should be aware of hazards such as proximity to electrical wires, plumbing, and properly lifting and moving loads.
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills

Although it is possible to learn some of the required skills on the job, it is highly advisable to seek out proper training from reputable organizations, especially when it comes to safety and proper backhoe operation.

Total Equipment Training is your ultimate resource for backhoe training. Follow this link for a free backhoe inspection checklist.

Educational Requirements for a Backhoe Operator

Individuals interested in becoming backhoe operators are not required to have advanced educational backgrounds, but can begin their career with a GED or high school diploma. A college degree is not required to become a backhoe operator.

Is Being a Backhoe Operator the Right Job for You?

Do you enjoy working on construction sites and have a knack for operating heavy equipment? A backhoe operator could be the perfect job for you. Becoming a backhoe operator requires training, understanding how to operate the machine, a keen sense of safety, and the ability to be aware of your surroundings and work with the people on the job site.

Backhoe operation is rising, and only stands to increase in demand over time. As the population grows, the need for infrastructural development in establishing amenities such as water, electrical and sewer systems will grow with it. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates an employment increase of 5% from 2021 to 2031, with over 400,000 existing backhoe operators already.

If you are looking for a new and steady job industry, a backhoe operator career may be right for you. Schedule backhoe operator training with Total Equipment Training today.

Is Being a Backhoe Operator Dangerous?

Yes, being a backhoe operator is a dangerous job. When excavating, the ground around you can become unstable causing hazards to the operator and the other people on the job site. With any piece of large machinery there are risks and hazards. Knowing how to operate the equipment and following strict safety protocol can drastically reduce the on-site dangers. Safety training and knowledge is key!

In addition to backhoe safety training, TET provides OSHA training for all of your heavy equipment needs. Our experienced trainers will come to your work site to train you or your staff on the proper use of heavy equipment. Email us today for more information:

How Much Does a Backhoe Operator Make?

Backhoe operators entering the job market often receive an average annual salary of $33,500 to $37,000. With experience gained and subsequent pay raises, most backhoe operators earn an average of $46, 798 annually. This figure can still be pushed upward, depending on the state of employment (California with an average of $92,900) and the type of employer.

An experienced backhoe operator can make about $22/hour based off of the national average. This number can vary by which state you are employed in and the amount of experience you have. Most backhoe operators also have the option to work overtime.

What Does a Backhoe Operator Do?

A backhoe operator has to have an understanding of how the machine operates and what safety procedures to follow. The operator must know how to drive, manipulate the bucket to dig and move dirt, gravel and other materials. Often operators work with other operators, sometimes they work alone.

A backhoe operator’s main duty will be to operate the bucket and articulating arm to move material, most often in excavation work; e.g. digging a trench for underground water mains or power lines. It is also the backhoe operator’s responsibility to:

  • Make sure the backhoe has been set up safely and properly
  • Designate, demarcate and (if necessary) cordon the dig area
  • Carry out maintenance on the backhoe components
  • Train and guide workers on backhoe operation and safety

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Do I Need a License to Operate a Backhoe?

No, in order to operate a backhoe, you do not need to have a license or a certification. However, you must be OSHA qualified. Getting OSHA qualified comes with experience, training, and an understanding of the OSHA guidelines and how they pertain to backhoe operation. Your employer is responsible for ensuring that you meet OSHA qualification standards.

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How can Total Equipment Training help me become a backhoe operator?

Key Takeaways

  • Total Equipment Training offers top-tier, safety-oriented backhoe operator training
  • You only need a GED/high-school diploma to become a backhoe operator
  • Health and safety skills are crucial in backhoe operation
  • OSHA requires that all backhoe operators be competent, not necessarily licensed
  • Demand for backhoe operators will only increase over time.

Total Equipment Training has experienced trainers that come to your site and train you on your equipment. Our trainers have over 10 years of in the field experience and are committed to making sure that your employees are thoroughly trained in both the operation and safety aspects of operating a backhoe. Learn more about our backhoe training.

Barb Fullman- CEO of Total Equipment Training
About the Author

As the owner of Total Equipment Training, Barb Fullman has been an active contributor to the heavy equipment training industry for over 23 years. Barb, a Penn State University graduate, is recognized as the highest ranking women-owned heavy equipment training business in the US. As a leading authority and provider of heavy equipment training, training manuals and tests based on OSHA Standards and Regulations, Total Equipment Trainings’ client list is composed of most of the Fortune 1000 companies focusing on energy, construction, heavy highway, and manufacturing.

Barb’s motto is “Stay safe, stay up to date”. She is committed to up-to-date & technically correct training, whether it is via in-person or through our library of online heavy equipment resources. With over 50 OSHA qualifying training topics to choose from with TET, the most popular heavy equipment training subjects are mobile cranes, NCCCO, all “dirt equipment”, rigging, crane inspections, and train-the-trainer.