A grader operator is a person who is trained to run a grader, which is a piece of heavy machinery used to create a flat dirt surface. This surface is usually a roadbed of some sort, either for a dirt road or a base layer for an asphalt road. The grader operator must be trained how to use the machine properly to get the best grading results, and he or she must also be trained in proper safety techniques, maintenance of the unit, and so on. Certain certifications or licenses may be required to operate such a vehicle.
The machine itself features three axles: two in the rear of the vehicle used for driving the machine forward and for stability, and one in the front of the vehicle for steering and stability. The wheels at the front of the vehicle are usually attached to a long boom, with a blade is mounted in the middle. This blade will be responsible for moving material to grade the soil, and it can swivel and tilt in various directions to accomplish this. The grader operator must know how and when to move the blade appropriately to create the flattest and most even surface possible in the soil.
One of the challenges a grader operator faces is manipulating this large vehicle to produce the desired grade, especially on uneven surfaces. The grader can produce canted grades, as many roadways are not flat, especially around curves or corners. The grader operator must be taught how to manipulate the vehicle to create such grades, and one of the most important elements of this training is properly positioning the front wheels of the vehicle, which can also pivot or sway to accommodate the proper grade.
During the winter months, a grade operator may be required to use the grader to move snow. This is usually done in the absence of other snow plowing equipment, though in some regions, the grader may be the best tool for the job. This is considered a secondary function of the machine, however, as it is primarily used for construction purposes. The grader may also be operated on farms or ranches to even out soil before planting; in this case, the farmer or rancher may be trained to operate the vehicle, though it is likely he or she will also need to obtain a commercial driver's license, or CDL, to operate this piece of heavy machinery.