What's involved - View plant operator apprentice James's video

Plant operators use large machinery associated with building and construction, including excavators, bulldozers, cranes, forklifts and telescopic handlers. They can move hundreds of tonnes of earth in a day and shift some extremely heavy loads.

A plant operator's role is a real 'hands on' job and they often have to travel to different sites. With such large machines in use they need to follow strict health and safety regulations at all times.

Skills required

A technical mind is essential and you should enjoy working with machines. Good communication skills are important as you will be working with clients and operators.

You'll also need a reasonable level of fitness and be able to work alone without direct supervision.

Qualifications required

There are no formal requirements although it would help to have GCSE's in English or Welsh and Maths at A*-C (Applications from students with the Foundation or Intermediate Welsh Baccalaureate are also welcomed).

Salary ranges

(This is a guide to the average salary a fully qualified and experienced person might expect to get.)

£15,000 - £28,000

Progression routes

After gaining work experience there are opportunities to progress into occupational work supervision, management or technical support areas.

 See what a real apprentice thinks:

What are the good bits about your job?

What I love most is that it's something different and there's good money too at the end once you're fully qualified. It's something I've always wanted to do.

Why did you choose this career?

I was originally a labourer and my employer came to see me on the site I was working at and basically said he had to give me a week's notice but he offered me this apprenticeship instead. I didn't even hesitate to accept. I just thought it was a brilliant opportunity and it will set me up for life.

What do you do day-to-day?

What I mostly do in my daily job is help out the digger drivers by setting levels, digging trenches and just whatever I can help out with throughout the day.

What's the coolest thing you've done so far?

The coolest thing and the thing that I'm most proud of is digging level trenches. It was quite difficult to begin with and I thought I could never do it. I got quite frustrated but I stuck in there and it's started to come now. I get the satisfaction of getting it done.

What would you say to anyone who wanted to try this?

If someone wanted to go for this I would say go for it. It's definitely a great opportunity and it's not to be passed up. Also it doesn't cost you anything!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This course has really helped me to progress to my future as in ten years time I see myself as being a supervisor for the company I work for, achieving more of my goals and feeling a lot better about myself basically.