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What is a Backhoe?

The tractor center and various attachments make backhoes popular on construction sites. A backhoe typically has a loader on one end and a bucket on the other, but they can also use additional attachments, like hammers, if needed. Backhoes can move between job locations by driving on roads thanks to their tractor wheels. Loader backhoes are found on almost any construction site. They are used for a multitude of reasons including:

  • Transporting building supplies
  • Digging trenches
  • Digging or filling holes or foundations
  • Demolition
  • Grading
  • Landscaping
  • Paving roads
  • Breaking up asphalt
  • Removing soil or waste

You may have spent your childhood playing with a toy version of a backhoe. But this one is not made of plastic, the bigger the machine the greater the cost and the greater the need for responsible operators. Consider carefully before deciding if being a backhoe operator is right for you.

How to Become a Backhoe Operator?

One of the first things to think about if you want to work as an excavator backhoe operator is how much education you’ll need. According to recent research, 7.1% of backhoe operators are bachelor’s degree holders. Less than 1% of backhoe operators have a master’s degree. Despite the fact that some excavator backhoe operators hold a college degree, becoming one requires only a high school diploma or GED.

Hard Hat Training makes it convenient for workers to become certified to operate a backhoe loader. All our courses come equipped with the necessary safety information and are OSHA Aligned. Our Backhoe Training and Certification Online Course are up to date and ready for purchase. It is available as an online course, but we also offer a training kit, as well as a train the trainer format.

How much are Backhoe Operator Salaries?

While salaries vary depending on the state you are based in, the average backhoe operator’s salary is around $45,000. The lowest 10% earned less than $35,770, and the highest 10% earned more than $84,640.

Most backhoe operators have a high school diploma or GED. Companies looking to hire will require at least two to four years of experience before you can become a backhoe operator. Remember any backhoe operator who gets an OSHA Safety Certificatification will earn a higher salary. Fully qualified construction equipment operators will be paid more than apprentices. As apprentices acquire additional skills, their salary will reflect that.

Erratic schedules are often required for a construction equipment operator. That includes working all hours of the day and night. Most operators work full-time, and some put in more than 40 hours a week. They must also be prepared for extreme weather conditions depending on their location.

Do Backhoe Operators Make Good Money?

Yes! While heavy equipment operators salaries do vary depending on the state, the national average annual pay for a backhoe loader operator is $46,533.

Some states report annual salaries as high as $65,000 while others have been reported on the lower end at $21,000. The majority across the United States range in the median. It is important to look for opportunities for growth and higher income because the average salary varies so widely depending on location, skill level, and years of experience.

Skid Steer Operator vs. Backhoe Operator Salaries

Skid steers are very versatile. Since they use tires instead of tracks, skid steers are lighter than compact track loaders and multi-terrain loaders. Their variety of attachments allows for a wide range of tasks. However, they have the same general function. Since they share similar functions, their operators make similar salaries.

Skid steer operators, much like backhoe operators, average salary varies from state to state. In the United States, the national average for skid steer operator salary is $37,586. However, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Alaska all offer higher salaries than the national average. The range of annual incomes is from $22,000 to $60,500.

With a salary difference of less than $10,000, there is certainly money to be made at either occupation. Just as with backhoe operators, it is equally important for skid steer operators to look for employment based on experience, location, and skill level.

Projected Job Growth

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth for construction equipment operators is about five percent over the next ten years. This is a stable growth average. Each year there are a little more than 50,000 new openings for construction equipment operators. The majority of said openings are a result of replacing workers, those who change jobs and those who retire or otherwise leave the workforce.

Build Your Backhoe Business

Operating a backhoe business is a niche in the construction industry. This enables you to better focus your marketing and business development. Any new job site requires an excavation crew. Owning and operating your own excavation firm demands the right equipment, funding, business and professional licenses.

Make It Happen

Starting a backhoe business demands a substantial initial investment in equipment. But, you will soon reap the benefits of being your own boss. Just listen to the story of Andy Brown, who turned a single backhoe into an entire fleet.

Andy didn’t have any prior construction experience. In fact, his family legacy was deep in the restaurant business. Soon after high school, Andy apprenticed for Operating Engineers Local 12. He worked for a construction company until he obtained his journeyman’s certificate. Despite his success as a union operator, his childhood dream was to one day launch his own company.

Andy’s dream became reality in his mid-20s. It was a long process since it was nearly a year after he had finished all the necessary steps before California gave him a contractor’s license. He purchased a secondhand backhoe from the foreman he was working for at the time after finally receiving his license. It was “all downhill from there,” he said. In thirteen years he turned one used backhoe into a fleet of more than 30 machines.

In the beginning, Andy dug many swimming pools and helped with utility hookups for local homes. He was awarded a contract to complete the grading and installation of utilities for a 400-home development in Santa Maria. He attributes his success, in part, to the example of his father and grandmother. The lessons he took away from them on working hard have been invaluable.