How to Become a Certified 360 Excavator Operator

360 excavators are heavy machines that dig up terrain or move large objects during construction, clearing a path for new developments or actively helping to build new structures.

The 360 degree excavator digger rotates a full 360 degrees on its platform, making it a highly versatile, practical excavation vehicle. However, this specialist construction vehicle requires proper training to operate effectively, efficiently and safely.

Here we look at what training is required to become a certified 360 degree excavator operator, and what advantages you can enjoy once you complete the technical training.

What are the qualifications required to operate a 360-degree excavator?

To operate a 360 excavator professionally, you are going to need some training and a couple of qualifications. 

There is no legal requirement for an operator to hold a qualification to work in construction, however, for many companies it is a standard policy to hire operator who hold accredited qualifications to comply with HSE.

Therefore, you need to pass the theory and practical tests to show some form of proof that you can operate an excavator safely. You will then be awarded with a Red Trained Operator card or certificate of competency.

The Red (Trained Operator) card shows employers that you have all the training and technical skills required to operate a particular category of plant machinery on a construction site.

Therefore, having an accredited certification demonstrates your competency. This will enable a construction site to employ your services as a 360-excavator operator.

How Do I Get My 360 Excavator Certification?

It is important that your skills as an operator are endorsed by a recognised body. Various awarding bodies provide certification schemes that will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to operate the machine safely, protecting both you and those around you.

  • The largest and the most widely recognised card scheme in the plant industry is the Construction Plant Competence Scheme, or CPCS. It runs a competence card scheme, which then provides operators evidence of their skills.
  • NPORS is another body that runs a card scheme for construction operators. It will issue a card to those operators who can demonstrate that they have the required skills.
  • The card both CPCS and NPORS issue is the Red Trained Operator card. 
  • The Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register, ITSSAR, have an accreditation scheme, with the aim of improving training and safety standards in the operation of industrial trucks. It issues a certificate of competency.

In order to get suitable certification, as a novice operator you must complete a 360 plant operator training course.

This must be an accredited course for you to qualify for a card or certificate at the end of it.

Course content will vary depending on the category of course you choose, and whether it is as a novice or foundation level, intermediate or advanced.

An accredited training course will prepare you for being an 360 excavator operator by focusing on certain essential elements, including:

  • Your roles and responsibilities
  • How to check your machinery and equipment both before and after use
  • Basic machine safety
  • What is the purpose, capabilities and limitations of the excavator
  • The basic construction of the excavator, its main components and controls
  • How to make minor adjustments to your equipment, as well as carrying out routine maintenance and safety inspections
  • Attaching and removing buckets to and from your excavator
  • Configuring the machinery for different tasks
  • Transporting materials over a range of terrains using the excavator and preparing it for transport on public highways.

What is a 360 Excavator Operator Course?

360 degree excavator training is an essential aspect of health and safety training for the construction industry and the people working in it.

Site owners must provide a safe working environment, which also means that all operators should have had full training in the equipment they are using.

A 360 degree excavator operator course is designed to make sure that anyone taking it will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to use      360 degree excavator digger equipment safely and efficiently.

There are various categories of 360 excavator digger that the training covers:

  • Below 10 tonnes, tracked
  • Below 10 tonnes, wheeled
  • Above 10 tonnes, tracked
  • Above 10 tonnes, wheeled

If you opt for the above 10 tonnes categories, you will automatically then qualify to operate machinery in the below 10 tonnes categories.

The course includes both theory and practice, to ensure attendees have a comprehensive knowledge of the subject when developing the skills, they need to become accredited operators.

During the course, you will learn the following:

  • Health and safety legislation and regulations for safe working in construction
  • How to operate a 360 degree excavator safely
  • Positioning the equipment correctly and securely on site
  • Changing and operating supporting equipment for the excavator
  • How to carry out routine safety checks and maintenance
  • Preparing the excavator for transport on public highways.

The course will give you a basic understanding of the construction industry and the potential hazards.

It will highlight your responsibilities as a plant operator, and how these relate to essential health and safety requirements.

You will gain a working knowledge of the manufacturer’s handbook for the machinery you are training on, and you will learn all about operating it.

The course will enable you to identify all the major components of the excavator, where to find them and to understand how they work.

You will be able to understand, identify and operate the steering, driving and braking controls of the 360 degree excavator digger.

The course will teach you how to safely get on and off the equipment, and how to manoeuvre it safely, including both excavating tasks and getting it to and from the construction site work area.

You will learn how to load material onto other vehicles or into containers using the excavator machinery.

Part of learning safe operations also involves fitting and removing attachments to the machinery, and carrying out diligent shutdown procedures at the end of the shift.

At all experience levels, the course will include a technical test, involving both theory and practice.

Whether you’re a 360 excavator above 10 tonne novice, or you require 360 excavator below 10 tonne training, there is the right course for you, giving you the qualifications you need for your career in construction to progress.

How Much is a 360 Excavator Training Course?

Training courses vary in price, depending on the course provider, and the level at which you want to learn your skills.

360 excavator training costs vary according to the length of the course and the level at which it applies. For example, a novice course starts from £1850 plus VAT. A test alone will cost around £525 plus VAT.

A basic NVQ Level 2 in plant operations may cost less, but it’s important that you see your course as an investment in your future career.

Therefore, you should select a course that will be right for your skill level, and for your career path.

How Much Does A 360 Excavator Operator Earn in the UK?

According to salary statistics, year-on-year pay for excavator jobs has gone up 2.5%, compared with all jobs, which have a figure of minus 1/6%.

Currently, the average annual salary for an excavator operator in the UK is around £34,500.

Most 360 degree excavator digger operator job vacancies are in trade and construction and engineering.

The top skill requirement for an excavator operator is CPCS accreditation, which is why choosing the right 360 degree excavator training is so crucial.

With proper training qualifications, you could improve your employability, opening up new opportunities in construction for you.

By taking a specially tailored course, you will increase your health and safety knowledge and awareness, hone your skills as an operator, and grow your own confidence in your chosen job role.

What is the Duration of a 360 Excavator Course?

Course lengths depend on the experience of the attendee, and the skill level the course is aimed at.

An operator with extensive skills and knowledge could attend a one-day test only, while a complete novice would take a comprehensive, 10 day novice course.

Courses are held on-site for obvious reasons, enabling attendees to gain solid, practical operating experience in a construction environment.

They combine classroom teaching with practical exercises, followed by a one-day assessment using technical tests.

360 excavator courses are practical, but also suited to various skill levels, from the novice to the more experienced operator.

What accredited training courses have in common is that they are widely recognised as providing the necessary credentials for operators to work in the construction industry.

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