How Much Does a Skid Steer (Bobcat) Operator Make in Australia?

Bobcat loading truck

So you’ve decided that you need to learn how to operate a skid-steer vehicle. In Australia, the most common name and type of these is what’s referred to as a bobcat, and these are used in a wide-range of industries – including the construction industry.

Due to their design, and small form-factor, they are a critical piece of machinery which can be utilised across a variety of different applications. As such, having a licence to operate a skid-steer machine can be your ticket to a well-paid, and in-demand skill. This article will focus on what an operator may do, the qualifications you need, and their approximate salaries to expect.

Skid Steer Operator Job Description

In short, a skid-steer operator does that – operates a skid-steer vehicle. The reason this is different to, for example, driving a regular car is that they turn and steer by ‘skidding’.

The wheels themselves turn at different rates to each other, so that the vehicle turns, as opposed to having two wheels at the front of the vehicle physically turning the direction you want. So it’s easy to see why you need some extra training to adequately use these machines.

The main employers of skid-steer operators are, unsurprisingly, the construction and mining industries. This is because of their wide-ranged use from roadwork, so soil and debris removal, landscaping, and agricultural work. But, there are some other jobs as well such as lawn mowing, or grading which can benefit from the use of a skid-steer machine – and its well-trained operator.

But what does it take to be a skid-steer operator?

Whilst you don’t need a licence per-se, you do need to be trained in the operation of a skid-steer machine to operate one safely, and also in most cases to be employed in the field. You will need to undertake a course which will teach you the skills and the safety procedures for operating a bobcat from a recognised training organisation – such as Equip-Safe.

How Much Does a Skid Steer Operator Make?

But how much will you make as an operator? Well, that’s easier to ask than it is to answer.

The average annual income for an operator is just a nudge over $80,000 per year, but this number can grow greatly depending on whom you’re employed through, where you’re based, how long you’ve been doing the job, and various other factors.

For example, if you’re working in Perth, working for a reputable company you would likely earn less than someone doing FiFo, employed by a mining company. Also to take into consideration is the fact of working for yourself or working for someone else – running your own business as a skid-steer operator can be lucrative, and also offers you freedom to work when you want, and how you want.

Average Skid Steer Operator Salaries


The average salary of a skid steer operator is slightly over $80,000 in Australia. But, depending on the state you live in, and the industry you’re employed in it may differ. We’ve included a table below to see how your state differs, including the highest paid salary we could find advertised in each state at time of writing.




Western Australia



Northern Territory


No Data Avail.




New South Wales






South Australia






Note: Average values based on 38 hours per week, and 52 weeks per year. Highest paid job retrieved from Seek job listings as at 14/03/23.

How to Increase Your Salary as a Skid Steer Operator

If you’re thinking that you’d like to further your career as a skid-steer operator there are a few things you can do to potentially progress, and make more money. First cab off the rank should be gaining additional qualifications – such as more heavy machinery operator licences and training, excavator training, or even larger mining training equipment.

Don’t discount the idea of a training or education course in running your own business – this can be highly beneficial to helping you get off the ground with your own company and become highly successful.

You could also seek out a higher paid industry – for example if you’re in landscaping then the mining industry might be a better option for you. Relocation may also be an option for you, because as the table above shows the average and highest paid skid-steer operator roles vary widely in pay rates across the country.

Depending on how long you’ve been working for a company, you could also always try to negotiate for a higher rate of pay.

Or, even split up your workdays to work some from one employer, and some from another who pays better. Or, they may want you to manage and run a team as the company grows, leading to management experience which opens up other pathways.

Or you can work for yourself. Whilst there are additional costs associated with running your own business, like accounting, business registration, insurances, and various other costs, working for yourself can open a door to a great life. It can be the ticket to financial, time, and overall life freedom – work with who you want, charge what you like, and work when you want. It might be a slog at first – but the rewards might be worth the effort!

Job Outlook for Skid Steer Operators

Skid steer operators are, currently, a vital piece of the workplace – especially in construction, agriculture, landscaping, and mining.

However, with the advent of automation, and newer, lighter, easier to use materials there may be some changes coming in the future.

But that said, these current operators may find themselves in a new role of remote programming, remote control, or event designing and implementing the newer generation of these skid-steer machines.

But for now, with the amount of projects being undertaken, underway, and in the planning stage across the country (especially here in WA) the industry is looking like these roles will be required for some time yet.


The life of a skid-steer operator, and the role of one on a worksite is highly valuable, and critical to a job getting done easier, faster, and more efficiently. As such, you will be in demand across a wide variety of industries, for years to come. And, there are multiple pathways available for you to advance your career.

Learn how to operate a skid steer loader with Equip-Safe


Interested in learning how to operate a skid steer loader? Check out Equip-Safe’s Skid Steer Loader training course (RIIMPO208F Operate support equipment).

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