MEET THE PRO: Austin Roath, Heavy Equipment Operator

By Arkansas Next on Thursday, September 15, 2022

Jacob Slaton
"I was able to put money into my retirement and start saving for a house right out of high school,” Austin said.

Hometown: Bella Vista

Age: 25

Where I Trained: Bentonville High School’s Nabholz Construction Corporation Course

What I Earned: On-the-job training, heavy equipment training certification

Job Title: Heavy Equipment Operator 

Employer: Nabholz Construction Corp.

From a young age, Austin had always wanted to run heavy equipment. Many members of his family have worked in construction and this influenced his decision to pursue a career in the field. Austin operates a bulldozer and cuts material out, then fills in the space with better material for an upgrade. His day-to-day responsibilities include checking fluids on equipment, making sure new projects are up to the grade and elevation required, finding the most productive way to use time and making sure the finished product looks good. 

“I wanted a hands-on learning experience that provided me opportunities to work directly in the field,” Austin said. “I knew that I would be more successful learning in this environment rather than in a classroom.” 

Austin graduated high school and began his career with zero student loan debt. He was mentored directly by his superintendent. Students who have a passion for learning, hand-to-eye coordination, integrity and enjoy problem-solving would be a fit for construction work. 

Austin’s favorite aspects of the job are operating the equipment and learning something new every day. He loves that every project is different, so he never feels like he’s building the same structure at the same location. He also loves that Nabholz provides great benefits and cares about the safety of its workers. 

Jacob Slaton


Equipment operators drive, maneuver, or control the heavy machinery used to construct roads, buildings and other structures. 

Education needed: 

Many workers learn how to operate construction equipment on the job after receiving their high school diploma or GED. Others attend apprenticeship programs or vocational training schools.

Job Outlook

► 13% projected job growth in Arkansas by 2028

► 490 annual projected job openings in Arkansas

This option is for you if

  • You love learning on the job
  • You enjoy working with your hands
  • You have great hand-to-eye coordination 
  • You love power tools

High-end earners in Arkansas (top 10%) make

Median wages in Arkansas
$37,460 Annual
$18.01 Hourly


  • Arkansas Construction Education Foundation
  • East Arkansas Community College
  • Greenway Equipment
  • Lexicon Inc.
  • Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas
  • University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology–McGehee
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
  • University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton
  • University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College


  • Greenway Equipment
  • Koontz Electric
  • Lexicon Inc.
  • McGeorge Contracting Company
  • OK Foods
  • Riceland
  • Weaver-Bailey Contractors