What Jobs Can I Get in the Dirt World?

Construction worker on a jobsite

There are lots of great reasons to build a career in the Dirt World. But how do you choose the role that’s right for you? 

Let’s walk through some key Dirt World jobs and what it takes to get there. Then, you can get a better idea of what makes the most sense for you.

Types of Dirt World Jobs

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People who work in the field are the backbone of the Dirt World, and they're usually paid hourly

Office workers are like the muscles holding everything together. They support field crews, and they’re often salaried.

In this article, we'll focus on field jobs. Then, we'll give you a quick overview of some support roles.

Field Jobs

In the field, you get to build real structures that make a real difference for society. You’ll do hands-on work outdoors, in all types of weather.


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Experience: 2+ years in the field 
Career path: operator, pipelayer, or grade checker > foreman > superintendent

Foremen, or field supervisors, lead field crews. They’ve worked their way up, and they have strong technical knowledge from years of field experience. 

Foremen get the project requirements from the superintendent, then manage their crews to do the work. They communicate with subcontractors, too. 

To be a foreman, you’ll need to be good at meeting goals and leadership. A big part of your job will be developing and mentoring your crew as workers and as people.

Fuel and lube technician

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Experience: entry-level
Career path: fuel and lube technician > mechanic

Big Iron moving big dirt burns a lot of diesel. 

Fuel and lube technicians drive mobile gas stations and maintenance trucks around the jobsite. They fill each machine with diesel and grease all moving parts. They also inspect machines for mechanical problems and coordinate with mechanics to fix them. 

This is a great entry-level job, especially if you want to become a mechanic. You have to pay attention to details, but you’ll also get a lot of independence.

Grade checker

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Experience: 1+ years in the field
Career path: laborer > grade checker > surveyor

A grade that’s too steep or flat can cause safety issues, damage the structure you’re trying to build, or make it impossible to build in the first place.

A grade checker ensures the grade is at the right angle, and they set stakes to guide the equipment operators who make the grade. 

Grade checkers are detail-oriented people who like numbers and enjoy being outdoors. Hey, you can be a math nerd and work outside!

Haul truck driver

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Experience: Entry-level
Career path: haul truck driver > equipment operator

Haul truck drivers drive dump trucks, haul trucks, articulated trucks, and other rigs on Dirt World jobsites. 

Drivers haul equipment to and from jobsites, move material around jobsites, and transport material off-site to prep plants or buyers. They must abide by traffic laws and load weight requirements.

Trucking is a good job for someone who’s okay with repetition, self-motivated, and safety-conscious. After all, there are a lot of obstacles on the jobsite and the road!


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Experience: entry-level
Career path: laborer > grade checker, pipelayer, or operator

Laborers do almost every type of physical work on the jobsite, like:

  • Digging with shovels
  • Spotting for operators and truck drivers
  • Fueling machines
  • Hooking up attachments
  • Cleaning the jobsite

Some laborers have specialized roles. For example, a maintenance of traffic laborer keeps traffic moving around a paving job, and roof bolters support roofs in underground mines. 

Becoming a laborer is a great starting point for your career, because you help with many parts of each project. You’ll learn the ropes and show your crewmates you’ve got what it takes to make it in the Dirt World.


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Experience level: 2+ years of training or apprenticeship
Career path: fuel and lube tech > mechanic > shop manager

Heavy equipment mechanics (aka equipment technicians) handle regular maintenance. They also evaluate and repair broken-down equipment. 

As a mechanic, you can handle general repairs or specialize in one area, like hydraulics or electronics. Some mechanics start with on-the-job training, while others attend vocational schools or get apprenticeships. 

Being a mechanic is a good job for someone who loves learning, doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty, and likes all kinds of equipment.


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Experience: 2+ years in the field
Career path: laborer > equipment operator > foreman

Equipment operators run typical heavy equipment you'll see on the job, like excavators and bulldozers, or specialized equipment like continuous mining machines.

They can learn many different machines or specialize on one or two. GPS operators, aka finish operators, put the finishing touches on jobs. 

Operators take immense pride in their skills, so don’t call them "drivers." They're not driving. They're maximizing their machine’s power and abilities, and they often have a "feel" for it that goes beyond technical knowledge. 

They also understand the material they’re moving and how to meet project goals, and they stay alert for buried hazards.


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Experience: 1+ years in the field
Career path: laborer > pipelayer > foreman

A pipelayer puts pipe into or through the ground for all sorts of things—like water, sewers, storm drains, oil, or natural gas. 

Pipelayers work closely with operators and laborers to dig trenches, repair pipes, and seal joints. They must be safety-oriented to prevent trench collapses or gas buildup. 

This is a great job for people who like to work behind-the-scenes. Most of your work stays underground, but you’ll feel proud knowing it's there making the whole project possible.


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Experience: 5+ years in the field
Career path: Foreman > Superintendent > Estimator

Superintendents run day-to-day operations. 

They typically have a field office so they can be close to the work and the foreman, but still have a place to do paperwork and talk to project managers. They’re responsible for quality control and staying on schedule. 

Big projects have multiple superintendents. They'll have a leadership hierarchy so everyone knows who reports to who. 

Superintendents know a lot about compliance requirements. They also know how to communicate effectively with their subordinates, project owners, and vendors.


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Experience: 4+ years in the field
Career path: grade checker > surveyor > superintendent

Before work begins, surveyors scope out the jobsite and decide where to move dirt and build things. 

They use coordinates, elevations, and GPS models to map the site. Then, they set out paint marks, wooden stakes, and ribbons to tell the crew what to do and where to do it. 

You may be a good surveyor if you like precision, being first on the scene, and using the latest technology. You’ll also need good communication skills. Surveying can change project plans, and you’ll have to help people understand why.

Support Jobs

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Support or office jobs are vital to every project’s success. 

While support roles require industry knowledge, they aren’t exclusive to the Dirt World. You can find them in many industries. They’re more likely to require a college degree than field jobs. 


Degree required: yes
Career path: accounting clerk > accountant > accounting manager

Accountants make sure crew members get paid and do the math to see if the business is profitable. They have a head for numbers and a good understanding of accounting software.


Degree required: no
Career path: 
administrator > office manager

Administrators handle the day-to-day things that keep the business running—like answering phones and scheduling meetings. In smaller companies, administrators may serve as HR or tech support, too.

Business development manager

Degree required: no
Career path: 
sales, marketing, or HR > business development manager

Business development managers help the company grow. They network to bring in new customers, project revenue, and look for ways to increase profits.


Degree required: yes
Career path: engineer-in-training > civil engineer > engineering project manager

There are many types of engineers, but only a few work in the Dirt World. Those include civil, mining, and geotechnical engineers. Engineers do tests and make plans to ensure that structures or mines are safe.


Degree required: no
Career path: superintendent > project engineer > estimator

Estimators calculate how long a project will take, how much material it needs, and how much it’ll cost to do the job profitably, yet competitively. They must be problem-solvers who love winning and are good with money.

HR manager

Degree required: no
Career path: HR generalist > HR manager

The HR (human resources) team handles employee issues at a company, like hiring, benefits, and discipline. The HR manager oversees the HR team.


Degree required: no
Career path: marketer > marketing manager

Marketers share their company’s story to attract new customers. They’re creative and good at connecting with people. There are social media, email, and digital marketers. Graphic designers, writers, and content managers are also on the marketing team.

Project engineer

Degree required: most of the time, yes
Career path: superintendent > project engineer 

Project engineers manage resources to keep projects on schedule and budget. They split time between the field and office, and they take care of permits and bills. Some companies call this role the project manager; at others, project manager is a more advanced role.

Safety director

Degree required: most of the time, yes—plus OSHA and MSHA certifications
Career path: safety inspector > safety director

Safety directors ensure the jobsite meets safety and environmental regulations and recommends solutions to safety problems. You may also hear this person called an EHS (environmental health and safety) manager.

Training manager

Degree required: most of the time, yes
Career path: HR trainer > training manager

Training managers oversee all training for field crews and support roles. They make sure people get the education they need to be productive on the jobsite and grow as people. Smaller companies may not have a training manager, but larger ones usually do.


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The possibilities are endless in the Dirt World! Let’s recap some of the most common field roles: 

  • Foreman 
  • Fuel and lube technician
  • Grade checker
  • Haul truck driver
  • Laborer
  • Mechanic
  • Operator
  • Pipelayer
  • Superintendent
  • Surveyor

And support roles:

  • Accountant
  • Administrator
  • Business development manager
  • Engineer
  • Estimator
  • HR manager
  • Marketer
  • Project Engineer
  • Safety director
  • Training manager

To start looking for your dream career in Dirt, head over to BuildWitt Jobs. You can create a free profile to start browsing openings at some of the top companies in the Dirt World. And you can even upload your resume so employers can find you. 

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