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What does a Bulldozer Operator do?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A bulldozer operator runs a tractor which is fitted with a bulldozer blade. Bulldozers are used to move soil, rock, and other materials, in a wide variety of settings ranging from the battlefield to construction sites. Pay rates for bulldozer operators vary, depending on the fields they work in and the level of training they have received. People can learn how to operate a bulldozer with on the job training, or through apprenticeship programs offered to heavy equipment operators.

In many cases, a bulldozer operator is responsible for maintaining the equipment he or she uses, in addition to running it. Bulldozer operators show up at the job site early to make sure that their equipment is in good working condition, and to lubricate and clean their tractors. Minor problems may be fixable on the job site, while the bulldozer may need to be sent out for major repair work. Bulldozer operators are also responsible for confirming that their safety systems are in place and working properly.

On the job, a bulldozer operator can work in mines, quarries, road construction, agricultural operations, and building sites. The bulldozer operator uses the tractor and blade to level the soil, move rock and debris to other locations on the site, and to scoop out soil. Bulldozers are capable of pushing dirt, rock, clay, sand, and vegetation. They can also be utilized in the demolition of structures like sheds and single story houses, along with walls and other barriers.

This work can be hazardous. Although the bulldozer operator is generally reasonably safe while working in the bulldozer, he or she needs to be aware of hazards on the job site which could cause the bulldozer to tip over, and it is also important to watch out for fellow workers or bystanders who could be injured by the bulldozer. Bulldozer operators are also at risk of health problems caused by inhaling dust, exhaust fumes, and other forms of pollution which may be present on the job site.

A bulldozer operator may need to be prepared to travel. Many companies provide heavy equipment services which cover a large area, and may necessitate days or weeks away from home for their employees. Being able to travel also provides more job opportunities to bulldozer operators, such as the chance to work in temperate climates during the winter when the climate at home may be too inhospitable for most kinds of bulldozing work.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By orangey03 — On Oct 26, 2011

My dad hates cold weather, so he seeks jobs in warmer climates during the winter. It seems there is a steady supply of bulldozer operator jobs in seaside areas, because new condominiums and tourist attractions are always being built.

He spent two months in Florida last winter on a job. The family flew out to stay with him in a condo for Christmas. We even decorated a small palm tree in a container.

I do miss him when he’s gone, but he is out making good money and enjoying the ocean while doing it. He doesn’t move there, though, because he still works in his home state during the summer, when Florida temperatures are just too hot for him to bear.

By wavy58 — On Oct 26, 2011

@kylee07drg - I feel the same way about bulldozers. Every time I pass by one doing road work, I feel a twinge of fear that it might suddenly swing into my windshield or push me off the road.

Logically, I know that bulldozer operators are trained to be safe. I understand that they have the knowledge that lets them properly manage the heavy monster. However, anyone can make an error, and I fear being a victim of a mistaken push of a lever or button.

My cousin tried to soothe my fears by telling me about the extensive job training he had to go through to be allowed to operate one. He said that his boss is a stickler for safety, and he thoroughly checks everything before starting a job. Also, my cousin thinks twice before every movement he makes while operating the bulldozer.

By cloudel — On Oct 26, 2011

My uncle is a bulldozer operator, and he works for the county. They pay him to do everything from scooping debris after a tornado to burying livestock for those without access to equipment.

I rent a home that is surrounded by pasture land filled with cattle owned by someone other than my landlord. When a cow died out there, I tried a couple of times to contact the owner, but he wouldn’t return my calls. It started to stink, and I felt like it was a health hazard.

I called my uncle, and he came out there with the bulldozer. Within five minutes, he had dug a grave, shoved the cow into it, and covered the hole back neatly.

By kylee07drg — On Oct 25, 2011

I had no idea that bulldozer operators were so in demand! I would think that they would be fairly common, but I guess many people don’t like the hazards involved and the exposure to the elements.

I have seen several bulldozer operators working to scoop and move dirt on the side of the road for lane widening, but I never imagined that they might have traveled from far away to do the job. I know a couple of people around here who are authorized bulldozer operators, so I just assumed that it was common knowledge among construction workers and road crews.

Personally, I am terrified of bulldozers. I’ve even had nightmares about being chased by them! So, I would never want to operate one, even if the pay was excellent.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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