According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly salary for construction equipment operators, including excavator operators, is $40,980 as of May 2012. This corresponds to an hourly wage of $19.70.
Wages vary considerably for construction equipment operators. The lowest 10 percent of earners in the occupation had a median salary of $26,470 while the highest 10 percent had a median salary of $72,440. Generally, excavator operators are trained to work with other heavy equipment, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that workers with skills handling multiple types of equipment have the best job prospects.
Most excavator operators take up their trade as an apprentice. Starting pay for apprentices is usually between 60 and 70 percent of what fully trained operators make, and the pay increases as operators gain more experience and skill.