How Much Do Crane Operators Make

To become a Crane & Tower Operator you need to be good hand-eye coordination.

Crane operators may work in manufacturing industries, as well as on construction sites or at shipping and receiving ports. The median annual Crane/Tower Operator salary is$45,058, as of August 29, 2016.  To check out if this career path is right for you, take a free career aptitude test.

Crane & Tower Operator Salary

  • Average Annual Salary: $53,6000
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $2,251,200

Crane & Tower Operator – Education and Training

In general, crane and tower operators must be at least 18 old, hold a high school or GED test diploma, and possess a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Students who are interested in becoming a crane or tower operator may boost their career by already at high school taking courses in science, math, or mechanical and engineering drawing. Trade schools offer specialized classroom training, and here crane operators are instructed on locations and aspects of panel instruments.

Crane operators are trained in simulators to become familiarized with all sorts of operating procedures and safety regulations. Crane operators who will work in the construction industry will require apprenticeships that may last up to four years before they can operate this risky equipment by themselves. These construction apprenticeships come with at least 146 hours of technical instruction and no less than 1,800 hours on-the-job training (paid work), and there are states that require crane operators to hold state licensing.  If you would like to see if this direction is something for you, you are welcome to take our totally free career quiz.

 Crane & Tower Operator – The Job

Crane and tower operators generally are attaching hooks, wires, electromagnets, platforms, buckets, or any other implements, before they will load, maneuver, and transport (often construction) supplies. They are operating their cranes from high-placed cabs while using levers, pedals, dials, and switches. The majority of crane and tower operators have specialized in a specific industry, such as construction, aerospace, or mining.

We also see quite a few bridge crane operators, who are transporting materials and people for high way bridges constructing purposes. Crane operators use a very specific way of communicating. They have learned to communicate with co-workers via hand signals. They are required to adhere to all local, state, and federal safety regulations and they are also responsible for maintaining, cleaning, and servicing their highly sophisticated equipment.

Crane and tower operators generally perform their tasks is cabs tall towers, or on self-propelled cranes. They can be found at manufacturing plants or construction sites where they transport equipment and materials to and from lower and higher. You may think that the job of crane operator may be relatively simple, but don’t be mistaken.

There are numerous on-and off-the-job factors that make this complicated job highly dangerous. Crane and tower operators frequently work in dangerously high winds, and sometimes they need to maneuver their cranes on hills, where their cranes can easily tip. There are quite a few instances where people, including sometimes the operators, got injured or even killed. It goes without saying that crane and tower operators, in order to perform their tasks well, must possess outstanding hand-foot-eye coordination, as well as excellent physical stamina and mechanical skills.

Professional risks

The job of crane and tower operators can be extremely dangerous. These professionals sometimes need to work around hazardous chemicals or other dangerous materials, and they are required to do their work in all sorts of weather. They need to be able to work in heat or cold, in rain or shine, and they also must subject themselves to everything that typically comes with construction sites.

There are crane operators that are assigned to long-term projects situated in very remote areas, and they also will have varying hours depending on weather and other influences. Crane operators often must work under the pressure of project deadlines, and in this business, overtime is pretty usual.

Job outlook and income

The employment perspectives for crane and tower operators for the coming decade may be called pretty good. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) predicts that heavy equipment workers, such as crane operators, will see an increase of more than twenty percent in that time frame, and this is more than the average for all professions.

The economy is growing, and the production activity in the construction and manufacturing industries are doing well, so these professionals will have a bright future. In 2014, crane and tower operators had a median hourly wage of $25.75, and their annual salaries were around $53,600. Those crane operators working in the natural gas industry made the most ($67,100 per year), and operators in the aerospace industry made some $59,700 per year.


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