Operator Wages

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by dozerman21, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. dozerman21

    dozerman21 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    I need a little help or advice on how much to pay an operator. I'm going to be hiring my first full time employee sometime soon, and I don't really know what a fair pay scale is. My operator would be mostly running my CTL, and then work up to a dozer backfilling and grading yards. I'm not sure if I should try to find someone already with skills, or if I should try to train someone. It's always a challenge to find a reliable operator with their head on straight, that's why I haven't hired anyone full time yet. I know many or most of you have an employee(s), so maybe you could shed some light. Here's what I'm looking into:

    -Hourly wage for a good skilled operator?
    -Hourly wage to train someone?
    -Do you give any vacation time?
    -Do you have any paid holidays?
    -Do you provide health insurance?
    -Do you give a certain number of guarenteed hours?

    These are my biggest questions. I know different areas of the country have different pay scales. I'm mostly concerned about what to pay starting out. The other benefits I might consider down the road if they work out. Any suggestions you have are appreciated!:drinkup:
  2. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,544

    A good skilled operator non union wage is upto 30 dollars per hour

    Depends on how much training needed if the guy has never seen a excavator before then that depends.

    Vacation time depends on if the operator wants to take vacation time but usually companies here let their guys go on holidays.

    Unless you have a health plan then you can offer it to the employee if you don't they don't get a health plan.

    No gauranteed hours for guys here but contractors try find make work projects for the guys. If its really slow they have to get laid off.

    You biggest thing is workers compensation and the income tax stuff and putting the guy on the payroll.

    If the guy is a union man don't hire him he will be expecting all the BS that goes along with the union employee. You treat your employees fairly you don't need union rules and regulations. Give the guys a lunch break and pay them overtime after 8 hours everything should be good.
  3. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    I have been paying around 15 an hour for an operator with a CDL. I offer a health plan that usually costs the employee about a 100-150 a month. As far as hiring someone that can run equipment verse building one. Pros and cons both ways. The issue is keeping the person once you have trained them. The labor market is very tight here. Unemployment rate is around 3%. I plan on putting one key guy on salary for the year. I have passed on a job that was just under 200K due to unqualified help. I don't want to do that again. I writing another bid, this less complicated job for about 80K and this one I will not pass on. I guess in short I would also formulate a plan for keeping said employee as well as finding one. The last year has been very tough finding good help.
  4. mastercraft

    mastercraft LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    It kinda depends on what your looking for, someone older with experience, or younger looking to learn. You probably could'nt afford ( pay & benefits ) a really experienced operator, nor does it sound like you really need that at this point. In my area, Canton Ohio, you could hire a hard working young man away from a landscape crew, with skid or ctl experience, easily for 10$ an hour with no benefits or paid holidays at all. If he works out, then bump the pay up a bit and give him some perks. Remember, it's alot easier to be a good guy and raise peoples pay and benefits for a good job, than to take from or fire someone who is'nt really working out. Best of luck!
  5. dozerman21

    dozerman21 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    I'm leaning towards a younger guy that I could train, mostly because the more skilled guys want benefits and $20-$25 per hour, and I know several inexperienced guys who would like to work for me. My family has hired several experienced guys in the past, but most of them didn't work out because they thought they knew it all, and in most cases, another company had let them go. My biggest adjustment with hiring an inexperienced operator be having the patience to train someone. I need help mostly for bulk dirt pushing, so I'm hoping they will catch on to grading if I start them off that way. I think it will work out.

    Like KSSS and mastercraft said, I was thinking of starting them out at $10 per hour while I'm training them (with no benefits), and if they work out, slowly bump them up to around $15-$17 per hour with a couple of bonuses, and I'd like to offer some kind of medical insurance plan that I could help with. I guess it all depends on if they stick around. I'd like to have one good operator that I could pay well and count on for a long time, to shorten my days and take on bigger jobs.

    Thanks for the replies!:waving:
  6. fhdesign

    fhdesign LawnSite Member
    Posts: 34

    Don't take this the wrong way...
    You get what you pay for, so I would try for an experienced operator, but if you can't find one that is very reliable it's not worth the extra cost.
    Good luck, it's difficult either way, but also rewarding when you finally get that good employee.
  7. start2finish

    start2finish LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 497

    gravel rat, 30/per hour? not in this world. I need to move up to BC and work for someone else. operators are 10-12 un experienced and 14-16 experienced. how many in NC do you want add a dollar to the high mark and you will have to turn off your phone.
  8. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    Experienced equipment operators make 60K plus a year here in Atlanta.

    My advice is too find someone young and who is willing too enter an Apprenticeship program and outline his advancement opportunities on paper too give him a reason too stay.It will be rough at first but the end result (with the right person) will be worth it.
  9. snoope

    snoope LawnSite Member
    Posts: 47


    I tend to lean towards "Training" someone..........That is how I started..way too many years ago..for a one man show expanding....hired as an experienced driver and quickly "Learned the ropes" on the "Yellow " stuff...To this day ..we are still friends and both still "Play in the dirt"......

    One quick word of advice...do not "lowball" that wage too much...if either of you has a "Bad day" and they will come....EGOs can be hard to swallow over something silly........A "Good" laborer up here starts at $13, Drivers at $15 and operators at $17.....plus bene's and "perks".....The "Job" outline sounds like an excellent idea also....Gives you both "Marks' to hit...including incentives for the employee to work harder and efficiently while the "Boss" can go bid more profitable jobs comfortably knowing he can get them done....

    Snoope back quiet
  10. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,799

    Here the grunt in the trench makes $30 an hour + benefits if he is union.

    Yes, I think its stupid too.

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