Everyone in society depends on heavy construction and mining to allow them to turn the shower on, drive to work, and live the life they want to live. Now that's a serious sense of purpose you won't find elsewhere.
We're not locked up in stuffy cubicles all day with casual Friday's being the only fun around. We work hard, take care of one another, and have a damn good time every day of the week.
Millions of dollars in some of the biggest equipment on earth is another day at the office for us. Everyone lied when they said you had to put your toys down and grow up. We just found bigger toys.
There's a reason why the beer you have after mowing the lawn tastes amazing. It's because you worked hard and are proud of what you accomplished. We have that feeling everyday.
In the dirt world, this is where it all starts. As a laborer, you do exactly as the job title suggests whether it be rigging pipe, shoveling rock, sweeping sidewalks, or supporting the overall operation however you can. Machines do a lot of the work, but we still rely on hardworking people to do the last and often most important 5-10%. Regardless of where you aspire to be later in your career, this is the best place to start.
As an equipment operator, you’re in charge of heavy machinery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can run just about any machine including haul trucks, excavators, dozers, scrapers, graders, and many others performing tasks from mass excavation to laying pipe. Running equipment everyday is just about as cool as it gets.
If you’re a gearhead who loves to work with your hands, a career as a technician might be for you. The heavy equipment world wouldn’t function without dedicated mechanics repairing and maintaining machines. As a technician, you can either work on machines in a dedicated shop or visit projects via service truck to make repairs on site. It’s a sweet gig.
You’ve worked as a laborer and operator for years, seen many projects go from start to finish, and now you’re hungry for more responsibility. As a foreman, you’ll lead one or often multiple crews to build each job. Everyone looks to you to ensure materials are on site, necessary equipment is ready, and create the plan for each day’s work.
Every heavy construction or mining project involves moving material or equipment from point A to B. That’s where truck drivers come in. Whether you’re transporting equipment by lowboy, hauling aggregate on road with a traditional dump truck, or moving 45 tons of material in an off-road haul truck, you keep every project moving. This is an essential career in the dirt world.
All that big iron moving big dirt burns a whole lot of diesel fuel. While equipment operators are packing up at night, you’re getting started. Driving a mobile gas station / maintenance facility (fuel and lube truck) you go from machine to machine to fill each up with diesel and grease all moving parts. Beyond fueling, you inspect each machine for potential mechanical problems or hazards and coordinate closely with the maintenance team. Everyone involved in the operation depends on you.
As a superintendent, you’re the person in charge on site. You constantly communicate between management and the crews you manage to complete every job on budget and schedule. The success of the job rests on your shoulders and while you don’t perform much of the work yourself anymore, the job couldn’t happen without you. Your days consist of meetings with owners and upper management, solving problems, scheduling, and managing job costs.
Project engineers and managers work behind the scenes to ensure each project comes together as it should. They manage the project schedule, resources, and spending to keep the job on schedule and budget. While they often visit the field, they spend much time in their pickup trucks and office taking care of permits, billings, and other crucial documents to allow all operators, laborers, and others in the field to build the job as needed.
Finish operators are the elite operators of the Dirt World, and are the last ones to touch any earthmoving project. Using their years of operating experience and now knowledge of GPS grade control, they use graders and dozers to finish roads, house pads, and foundations to within fractions of an inch. This position is where a lot of operators aspire to be given the skill and knowledge required to do this job well.
Before laborers or equipment operators set foot on a project, there are often hundreds of hours into bidding and winning the opportunity to build the job. Whenever a project opportunity emerges, it’s the estimator’s responsibility to figure out how to build the job, calculate quantities and timelines, and ultimately assign a dollar figure for what it’ll take to do the job profitably, yet competitively. Too low and they jeopardize the project from the start, and too high the company won’t win any work.
Surveyors are the people responsible for clearly defining where to move dirt and build things. Thanks to their knowledge of coordinates, elevations, and GPS models, they map project sites out through a series of paint marks, wooden stakes, and ribbons. No one can build accurately without their work, and they’re often the first ones on any job site before any action happens.
While the excavators and loaders get most of the attention, all their work would be for nothing without haul truck drivers moving the material to wherever it needs to go. Haul truck drivers are the core of any earthmoving operation. While it’s often an entry-level position, it comes with enormous responsibility, including being at the wheel of a truck that makes a Lamborghini seem cheap. It’s also one of the best places to learn how earthmoving operations work.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life, even as a little kid. At that age, most people want to be firemen, policemen, doctors, or lawyers. I wanted to run equipment.”
Missy was working in a fundraising position at a nonprofit, which she thought was her dream job until she met her now-husband Trevor, who ran a small excavating and dumpster business. She was instantly drawn to it all.
While today Dan manages multi-million-yard earthmoving operations around Southern California as the general superintendent for LB3 Enterprises, he’s spent decades working his way up from the bottom.
As a kid, Joe was lucky enough to grow up around big iron and a whole lot of dirt in Washington state, which paved the way for his job today.
Conner Holmen, who today co-owns and runs the field operations for the Michigan-based In-Depth Excavation, started in the dirt world when then ten-year-old Conner and his dad created In-Depth Excavation.
When Ryan Goodfellow started his excavation business, Rock Structures, in 1997 near Ogden, Utah, it was the culmination of a lifelong love of dirt and iron that started over a decade earlier in Southern California.
Mikel is the national safety director for Turner Mining Group, and he spends every day doing whatever he can to make sure that the disconnect never becomes a problem for Turner.