Skid steer operators, also known as logging operators, skidder operators and skidder drivers, drive skid steers, also commonly called Bobcats. Their main duties include driving skid steers, or wheeled vehicles that feature frontal shears and bulldozer blades, to pull up stumps, clear brush and load and unload logs or other debris. If you are considering pursuing a career as a skid steer operator, your salary will vary based upon your work history, work location and place of employment.
As of May 2010, the national mean annual wage for logging equipment operators was $33,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Skid steer operators were included in this group. The 25th percentile earned an average of $26,510 per year, while the 75th percentile made an average annual salary of $38,750. These averages were based on the work location and number of years of experience.
Skid steer operators in the miscellaneous durable goods merchant wholesalers industry earned an annual mean wage of $50,620 per year, according to the BLS. As of May 2010, other top-paying industries included pulp, paper and paperboard mills, which had an annual mean wage of $44,170 per year; highway, street and bridge construction, which paid skid steer operators an average of $39,960 per year; and veneer, plywood and engineered wood product manufacturing, which paid skid steer operators $35,260 per year. Those who worked in the logging industry earned an annual mean wage of $33,680 per year.
Skid steer operators who work in certain parts of the U.S. can earn more than their counterparts in other areas. For example, skid steer operators in Oregon earned an annual mean wage of $40,120 as of May 2010, according to the BLS. Those in California earned an average of $39,500 per year. Skid steer operators in Idaho made an average of $37,870 per year, while those in New York earned an annual mean wage of $37,680. However, the top-paying location was the state of Washington, where skid steer operators made an annual mean wage of $44,790 per year.
If you are considering becoming a skid steer operator and want to choose from many different job opportunities, you may want to focus on specific industries that have the highest levels of employment in this position. According to the BLS, logging had 19,020 employed skid steer operators in May 2010, while sawmills and wood preservation had 1,920 workers with average annual salaries of $30,140 per year. According to O-Net OnLine, this profession had 42,000 employees in 2008, and was projected to grow at an average rate, or between 7 and 13 percent, between 2008 and 2018.