Crane and Tower Operators

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Also known as:
Boom Crane Operator, Bridge Crane Operator, Cherry Picker Operator, Coal Tower Operator, Electric Crane Operator, Erecting Crane Operator, Monorail Crane Operator, Overhead Crane Operator, Port Crane Operator, Radio Control Crane Operator

ABOUT CRANE OR TOWER OPERATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

For a passerby, it seems amazing that any one person can handle the crane towering over a construction site. It appears to have a life of its own--a gigantic creature bending, turning, and lifting materials, machinery or other heavy objects. But someone is very much in control. Crane and tower operators are highly trained construction professionals who have reached the height of the equipment operation ladder--literally!

Material-moving equipment operators are classified by the type of equipment they operate, and nothing is more complex or important than the cranes and towers that make big building projects possible. The operator extends or retracts a horizontally mounted boom to lower or raise a hook attached to what's called the load line. Maneuvers are coordinated in respond to hand signals or radioed instructions.

Most of the work for operators is not in construction, but in manufacturing. They're especially in demand in metal fabrication, primary metal, and transportation equipment manufacturing industries, where they're constantly in service moving heavy, bulky materials.

Automation is cutting into these jobs, but opportunities do open up as experienced worker retires. Their skills are learned on the job as you move up through the ranks of equipment operations. A sense of balance, good distance judgment, and excellent eye-hand-foot coordination are essential.

High School graduates with training in automobile and diesel mechanics have the best chances of getting started on operating light equipment first, then moving on to the big stuff. White private vocational schools advertise instruction and help getting an apprenticeship, it's a good idea to check out the program's reputation with local employers before you enroll.

SNAPSHOT
Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines, or products in many directions.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
LOW
Communication with others
LOW
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
LOW
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
HIGH
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Direct helpers engaged in placing blocking or outrigging under cranes.

Load or unload bundles from trucks, or move containers to storage bins, using moving equipment.

Clean, lubricate, and maintain mechanisms such as cables, pulleys, or grappling devices, making repairs, as necessary.

Inspect and adjust crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.

Inspect cables or grappling devices for wear and install or replace cables, as needed.

Determine load weights and check them against lifting capacities to prevent overload.

Move levers, depress foot pedals, or turn dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Building and Construction Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
TOP SKILLS
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.