What Is an Excavator?

by | Apr 21, 2023 | Blog, Heavy Equipment, Heavy Equipment School | 0 comments

At the end of the day, no matter how many fancy, advanced pieces of equipment get brought to a jobsite, the primary objective will always be to dig up earth in preparation for building. One of the most common pieces of equipment on a construction site—and, therefore, one of the most common and desirable types of heavy equipment operators—is an excavator.

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “What is an excavator,” look at the types of excavators, and discuss what it takes to become qualified to work as an excavator operator:

What Is an Excavator?

One of the most iconic and important pieces of heavy equipment on a jobsite, the excavator’s primary job is to dig up earth and put it somewhere else. The excavator typically has a rotating platform, on which the cab sits, and a digging arm on a boom that extends out and can be used to scoop earth into its bucket.

While an earth-moving bucket is by far the most common sight at the end of an excavator boom, it is not the only one. Excavators can have multiple attachments, such as a breaker or hydraulic hammer, used for clearing brush or moving rubble.

Modern excavators nearly all run on hydraulic power, rendering them more mobile and powerful than older, wire-operated versions.

What Are the Different Types of Excavators?

There are, generally speaking, three recognized types of excavators.

  1. Standard excavator: The most common type of excavator, this heavy equipment generally weighs around 40,000 pounds—though it can be much larger—and is generally suited for all different types of jobsites. Standard excavators can be wheeled or tracked.
  2. Midi excavator: These are the medium-sized tools in the excavator world. Midi excavators are smaller than standard excavators but still powerful enough to work on quite a few jobsites. In general, if it’s above 13,000 pounds but below 22,000 pounds, it’s a midi excavator.
  3. Mini excavator: If your jobsite is small or otherwise enclosed and only requires shallow excavation, you might want to consider a mini excavator. These pieces of equipment are less than 13,000 pounds and are suited to minor demolition projects like removing stumps from domestic lots. They may lack the power of their larger siblings, but they also have a significantly smaller operating space requirement.

How to Become an Excavator Operator

Even the smallest excavator still qualifies as heavy equipment. This means that to safely and legally operate an excavator, you’ll want to be certified through an accredited training school. There’s good news, however. Once you have your certification through your heavy equipment operator school of choice, you’ll be able to get employment not just in your state but in most others too.

So, it’s not about asking yourself, “What is an excavator?” You should ask yourself, how do I get certified to operate all types of excavators? If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, the answer to that question is West Coast Training, where you can learn to operate all types of excavators as well as other pieces of heavy equipment. Contact us today to learn more.