360 driver, 360 digger driver

A 360 excavator operator controls a large digging machine which sits on a rotating base, allowing them to pick up large amounts of earth or other materials, and move them anywhere within the vehicle’s radius. 360 excavator operators use these machines to clear ground for new developments such as housing or roads and may also dig foundations.

Average salary*

£17000 – £40000+

Typical hours per week


How to become a 360 excavator operator

There are several routes to becoming a 360 excavator operator. You could complete a specialist college course or an apprenticeship and gain further qualifications and experience to help you move into the role. 

To become a 360 excavator operator, you will require a valid Operatives Certificate as a start and a valid Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS /NOCN ) card which can be gained through studying at a training provider.  

Many employers are also interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions. 

College/training provider 

You can enrol on a specialist training course to learn how to be a 360 excavator operator, if you have some experience of plant operations and a full driving license. 

To gain experience, you could study for a Level 2 Certificate in Construction Plant Operations or a Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment before undertaking further training in 360 excavation. 

You’ll need: 

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent (level 2 course) 
  • 4 – 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent (level 3 course). 


There is not a specific apprenticeship for a 360 excavator operator, however you could start your career as an apprentice plant operator and specialise in 360 excavator operation later on.  

You could complete a Plant Operator intermediate apprenticeship or an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Plant Operations. An intermediate apprenticeship takes around two years to complete. 

You may need GCSEs (including English and Maths) or equivalent, to do an apprenticeship, but not all employers ask for formal qualifications. 

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider. 


If you have experience as a plant operator, you could apply directly to a construction company to gain onsite experience as a 360 excavator operator. Your employer may be able to support you through any required training. 

Work experience 

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a plant operator or 360 excavator operator. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV. 


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a 360 excavator operator include:  

  • Patience and ability to remain calm in stressful situations 
  • Good attention to detail 
  • Ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools 
  • Ability to work well with others 
  • Good spatial awareness 
  • Ability to operate and control equipment.

What does a 360 excavator operator do?

As a 360 excavator operator, you will be responsible for driving a 360 digger on a construction site. A typical day could see you excavating and levelling ground according to site plans and moving heavy objects on site. 

The job role of a 360 excavator operator involves the following duties:  

  • Operating 360 excavators safely
  • Interpreting technical plans and observing site markings and laser levels
  • Carrying out routine machine inspections
  • Fitting and operating ancillary equipment
  • Digging foundations and levelling ground
  • Demolishing existing structures or breaking up concrete
  • Landscaping terrain in preparation for building new structures
  • Carrying out lifting operations involving large materials
  • Dredging ditches and rivers and laying pipes to supply water to buildings
  • Adhering to strict health and safety guidelines. 

How much could you earn as a 360 excavator operator?

The expected salary for a 360 excavator operator varies as you become more experienced. 

  • Newly trained 360 excavator operators can earn in the region of £17,000 
  • Experienced 360 excavator operators with some experience can earn up to £40,000* 
  • Self-employed 360 excavator operators set their own pay rates. 

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. 

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources

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Check out the latest 360 excavator operator vacancies:  

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up. 

Career path and progression

As a 360 excavator operator, you could progress to become a team leader or plant manager and organise plant logistics on a construction site.

Alternatively, you could set yourself up as self-employed.