Job prospects Heavy Equipment Operator Apprentice in Ontario

Job opportunities for Heavy equipment operators (except crane) (NOC 7521) are fair in Ontario over the next 3 years. This job outlook is also applicable to people working as a heavy equipment operator apprentice.

Note that the current 2019-2021 employment prospects were published in December 2019 based on information available at that time. We are working to update this information as soon as possible. In the meantime, visit the Canadian Online Job Posting Dashboard to find the latest data on the demand and work requirements for this occupation. You can also read our newly updated sectoral profiles to learn about recent developments for key economic sectors in your region.

Job opportunities in Ontario

heavy equipment operator apprentice
Prospects over the next 3 years

The employment outlook will be fair for Heavy equipment operators (except crane) (NOC 7521) in Ontario for the 2019-2021 period.

The following factors contributed to this outlook:

  • Employment growth will lead to several new positions.
  • A moderate number of positions will become available due to retirements.
  • There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation.

The majority of these operators work in the construction industry, mainly with site preparation contractors. A fair number also work in highway, street and bridge construction, as well as the construction of buildings.

Favourable levels of construction activity in many areas of the province should help sustain the need for these workers. Several large infrastructure projects in roadways and bridges, transit, and power generation are in progress or are set to begin. In addition, numerous investments in public facilities and municipal services will fuel the need for these operators. Steady business activity will likely bode well for this trade as commercial construction stays moderate and a few large industrial projects move forward. While residential construction may moderate in the short term, higher population growth continues to support housing developments such as condominiums in some of Ontario's largest urban centres. Outside of construction, there may be opportunities for these workers to find employment in waste management companies and in municipal governments to provide maintenance and snow removal services.

There are three voluntary skilled trades associated with this occupation in Ontario–heavy equipment operator (dozer), heavy equipment operator (excavator), and heavy equipment operator (tractor-loader-backhoe). Although apprenticeship options are available, some employers do not require trade certification to secure employment. As such, this opens the labour pool to those with informal training such as several years of practical experience on the job and/or some college courses in heavy equipment operating. Candidates will need to obtain the required licence to operate various pieces of equipment such as backhoes, bulldozers, trenchers and graders.

Individuals may need to be familiar with safety practices such as the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and regulations around Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These workers often have to travel to various sites, so a valid driver's licence may be required and some positions may need a full Class A truck licence with air brake endorsement. The demand for heavy equipment operators is seasonal with more job opportunities during the spring and summer months. Operators may be able to find year-round opportunities with companies that provide waste management, snow removal and large-scale landscaping services. Individuals who work at heights must complete a provincially required working at heights training program.

Here are some key facts about Heavy equipment operators (except crane) in the Ontario region:

  • Approximately 24,400 people work in this occupation.
  • Heavy equipment operators (except crane) mainly work in the following sectors:
    • Construction (NAICS 23): 60%
    • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (NAICS 21): 8%
    • Local, municipal, regional, aboriginal and other public administration (NAICS 913-919): 6%
    • Management and administrative services (NAICS 55, 56): 5%
  • The distribution of full-time and part-time workers in this occupation is:
    • Full-time workers: more than 95% compared to 79% for all occupations
    • Part-time workers: less than 5% compared to 21% for all occupations
  • 51% of heavy equipment operators (except crane) work all year, while 49% work only part of the year, compared to 63% and 37% respectively among all occupations. Those who worked only part of the year did so for an average of 33 weeks compared to 31 weeks for all occupations.
  • 6% of heavy equipment operators (except crane) are self-employed compared to an average of 12% for all occupations.
  • Breakdown by region

    Explore job prospects in Ontario by economic region.

    Legend: The job opportunities can be: Undetermined Limited Fair Good

    Source Labour Market Information | Prospects Methodology

    You can also look at this data on a map. Go to LMI Explore

    Job prospects elsewhere in Canada

    We expect that the labour supply and demand for Heavy equipment operators (except crane) (NOC 7521) will be balanced in Canada over the next 10 years.

    Learn more

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