Heavy Equipment Operator (Dozer) National Occupational Analysis (NOA) 2015

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Heavy Equipment Operator (Dozer).

2015 – Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Opérateur/opératrice d’équipement lourd (bulldozer)

NOC: 7521

Designation Year: 2014

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General Information


“Heavy Equipment Operator (Dozer)” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by heavy equipment operators whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Heavy Equipment Operator (Dozer)

x x x     x

These heavy equipment operators operate dozers used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports and utilities, and the construction of gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures. They also operate equipment in surface mining, quarrying, and land clearing activities.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) are employed by construction companies, heavy equipment contractors, public works departments and pipeline, logging, mining, oil, cargohandling and other industries.

Heavy equipment operators operate dozers to move, spread and strip earth, rock, gravel or other materials during construction and related activities. Dozers along with other heavy equipment are used to clear brush and stumps prior to logging activities and to build roads at logging and surface mining sites. Heavy equipment operators (dozer) also maintain winter roads, create slopes and ditches, level surfaces and clear land using dozers. They are also responsible for preparing their equipment for transportation, conducting pre-operational checks on their equipment before each shift/daily and post-operational checks at the end of each shift/daily, and for cleaning, oiling and refueling their equipment.

Noise from machinery and equipment hinders communication at the work site. Often hand signals and flags are the only practical forms of communication. Distance between workers, the need to wear ear protection and the presence of dust and blind spots blocking eye contact with other workers also make communication difficult.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are good eye-hand coordination, mechanical aptitude, alertness and safety consciousness. Heavy equipment operators (dozer) sit in vehicles for extended periods of time. Adjusting equipment or co-ordinating activities with other workers may require some walking, lifting and bending.

Occupational Observations

The computer is increasingly being used for precision control to optimize heavy equipment operator (dozer) efficiencies. The use of computerized equipment has raised the level of ability of heavy equipment operators to perform more precise work resulting in higher productivity and quality of project. This in turn requires a higher and more complete level of training.

Satellite monitoring and diagnosing of equipment has been introduced and is becoming more widespread. The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) and wireless technology has been introduced to improve equipment operation. The use of remote control equipment is increasing in the industry, which produces more precise control and efficiencies. More training is typical in the industry which improves operating techniques and increases safety, reduces downtime and improves efficiency. A wide variety of new attachments are being developed and introduced to help improve efficiencies.

New ergonomic controls are continually adapted and improved for ease of use and to reduce heavy equipment operator (dozer) fatigue and injury, which in turn improves production. New cab designs featuring more open and improved visibility in heavy equipment operator stations, increases heavy equipment operator awareness and safety. New technology that is being introduced with more efficient engines and transmissions such as hydrostatic drive transmissions and electric powertrains, results in smoother transitions and operations, which also reduces heavy equipment operator fatigue. Advancements in technology are allowing heavy equipment operators to work in all environmental conditions, such as extreme temperature conditions.

More emphasis through due diligence is being placed on safety. Changes to regulations and standards will have an impact on the duties and the way industry and heavy equipment operators (dozer) deal with situations that arise on site. With increased emphasis on ecofriendly practices, operators are required to practice environmental stewardship (i.e. spill cleanup, erosion and emissions control).

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order.

The essential skills profile for the heavy equipment operator (dozer) trade indicates that the most important essential skills are numeracy and thinking skills, such as problem solving.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile. Here is a link to the complete essential skills profile.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) use reading skills to refer to manuals on the operation and maintenance of machinery. They are required to read material safety data sheets (MSDS) when working with products such as cleaners, oils, fuels and other chemicals. Heavy equipment operators (dozer) may read pamphlets explaining regulations and codes, bulletins from unions, employers or other regulatory bodies, and memos or work orders with information on the nature of the work to be performed.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) work on a daily basis with documents such as labels on hazardous materials, signs, lists, operator’s manuals, inspection forms, hazard assessment forms, log books and time sheets. They may read or mark stakes with station numbers and slope ratios, mark off caution areas on maps and make sketches or drawings. They may also be required to consult surveyor charts and blueprints.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) may record information about work performed, time it took, materials used and problems encountered. They make entries in daily equipment reports (logbooks) during pre- and post-operational inspections. They also keep an equipment maintenance log to note repairs made and service schedules. They may write accident and incident reports describing details.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) use oral communication skills to give directions to, and listen to co-workers, interact with fuel suppliers, truck drivers and mechanics, and participate in safety committees and discussions at the work site concerning how to do a particular job. They may discuss job assignments, equipment problems and material shortages with supervisors, contractors or union dispatchers.

A heavy equipment operator’s skills in numeracy are used to calculate, for example, the number of loads required to remove the sand and the weight distribution of a load being lifted. They may also measure and calculate the slope and ratio of ditches. Heavy equipment operators (dozer) estimate distances between the machine and various obstacles, width of ramps for space on either side of a machine and how many truckloads of fill are required. They may also be required to convert between the imperial and metric systems of measurement.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) use their problem solving skills to deal with machinery breakdowns, ground conditions and difficult manoeuvring situations where space to move machinery is tight or objects stand in the way of completing jobs.

Decision making skills are required for determining materials and equipment needed, appropriate and safe preventative maintenance cycles to be performed on equipment, and when to make suggestions to supervisors such as about changes to soil cover specified on blueprints.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) require job task planning skills to coordinate their work with their co-workers. They may also be required to determine task sequencing or prioritization of tasks considering factors such as terrain, schedules of truck drivers and other suppliers, and unexpected factors such as maintenance emergencies or changing weather conditions.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) use thinking skills to understand and assess soil types and how weather affects soil conditions.

Although heavy equipment operators (dozer) work alone while operating their machines, on construction sites they are members of a team. They work to co-ordinate job tasks with others and must be aware of where other crew members, machines and general public are at all times.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) use computer-controlled equipment such as electronic scales, GPS and advanced operating systems.

Heavy equipment operators (dozer) are expected to take courses throughout their career to stay up to date with regulations, health and safety procedures and new technology. These may include courses such as in hazmat, confined spaces and fall protection. They may be required to obtain or renew certificates or licenses such as WHMIS certificates, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificates, ground disturbance certificates, and radio operator and driver's licences. Specific training may also be required to work in areas such as oil field, mining and forestry industries.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the following representatives from the trade.

  • Craig Chapman - Prince Edward Island
  • Les Gale - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Darrell Johanson - Saskatchewan
  • Lyndon Kipling - Northwest Territory
  • Tim Milne - Manitoba
  • Curtis Rodgers - New Brunswick
  • Lee Sorken - British Columbia
  • Daryl Sweetland - Manitoba
  • Russel Vachon - Ontario
  • Patrick Watson - Canadian Operating Engineers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Council (COEJATC)
  • Joe Williams - Nova Scotia

This analysis was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of British Columbia also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about National Occupational Analyses may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0J9
Email: redseal-sceaurouge@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca

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