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What does an Operating Engineer do?

Learn all about Operating Engineer duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become an Operating Engineer.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

An operating engineer is responsible for the maintenance and operation of mechanical equipment in a variety of settings, such as power plants, factories, and office buildings. They may work with a team of other engineers or technicians to keep the equipment running smoothly and efficiently. In some cases, they may also be responsible for training new employees on how to safely operate the machinery.

Operating Engineer job duties include:

  • Maintain and operate machinery and mechanical equipment, such as engines, motors, pneumatic tools, conveyor systems, and production machinery.
  • Read and interpret equipment manuals and work orders to perform required maintenance and service.
  • Inspect equipment to identify any necessary repairs or replacement parts.
  • Perform routine maintenance tasks, such as lubricating machines, changing filters, or repairing leaks.
  • Adjust functional parts of devices and control instruments.
  • Start up and shut down equipment.
  • Monitor gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Investigate mechanical problems using precision measuring and testing instruments.
  • Record repair work performed in logbooks or on computerized maintenance records.

Operating Engineer Job Requirements

Operating Engineers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of mechanical equipment in buildings, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. They must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and must complete an apprenticeship program lasting four years. Many Operating Engineers also obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering technology.

Operating Engineer Skills

  • Operating Engineers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of mechanical equipment, such as pumps, compressors, generators, motors, and HVAC systems.
  • They must be able to read and interpret blueprints and schematics.
  • They must have a strong understanding of physics and mathematics.
  • They must be able to use hand tools, power tools, and test equipment.
  • They must be able to troubleshoot and repair equipment.
  • They must be able to work safely and follow all safety regulations.
  • They must be able to work independently or as part of a team.
  • They must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the engineering team.

Related: Top Operating Engineer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become an Operating Engineer

Operating engineers are highly trained professionals who operate and maintain large mechanical systems. They typically work in power plants, factories, and other industrial settings. Many operating engineers also work in the construction industry, operating heavy machinery during the construction process.

To become an operating engineer, you will need to complete a four-year apprenticeship program. This program will provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to safely operate and maintain complex mechanical systems. You will also need to pass a state-administered exam to earn your professional license.

Once you have completed your apprenticeship program and earned your license, you will be able to find employment as an operating engineer. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have experience working in the construction industry. However, with the right skills and training, you can find employment in a variety of industries.

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