Bobcat is an official brand name for a well-known line of heavy equipment. Equipment models include compact excavators, loader backhoes, telescopic tool carriers, skid-steer loaders, backhoe attachments, planer attachments and loader radio remote control equipment. A Bobcat operator is trained in the operation and maintenance of Bobcat equipment. Salaries of Bobcat operators vary dependent on the employer, the type of equipment operated and geographical location of the job site.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 Edition reports that in May 2008, the annual median hourly wage for operating engineers and other construction equipment operators was $18.88. The middle 50 percent of workers earned between $14.78 and $25.49. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.47. Equipment operators in the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.34. Hourly wages fluctuated, dependent on if it was a union or nonunion job site.
Bobcats are utilized by golf courses, construction sites, oilfield supply depots, warehouses and landscape contractors. Entry-level construction equipment operators frequently begin their training operating a Bobcat or forklift before progressing to a grader, excavator, backhoe, bulldozer or crane. Bobcat operators move heavy materials including soil, gravel and sawdust to required locations.
A minimum of a high school education is a requirement of most construction equipment operator employers. High school or vocational school classes in auto mechanics are useful to prepare workers to perform maintenance on their equipment. Bobcat and other construction equipment operators are often trained on the job, working as an apprentice to experienced heavy equipment operators. The International Union of Operating Engineers works with contractors to offer on-the-job apprenticeship programs consisting of 3 years or 6,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and 144 annual hours of classroom instruction. Apprentices learn to operate a variety of equipment including a Bobcat. Operators trained on multiple pieces of equipment receive preference in hiring and are paid more than single-skill workers.
In 2008, approximately 468,300 persons held jobs as construction equipment operators. Employment opportunities are expected to remain high. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that employment in this field will rise 12 percent from 2008 to 2018. Although Bobcat operators are paid a lucrative hourly wage, inclement weather frequently shuts down construction operations. Total annual yearly income may be reduced.