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Crane or Tower Operator

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Life As a Crane or Tower Operator

Job Description & Duties Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines, or products in many directions.

Crane or Tower Operator Responsibilities

  • Move levers, depress foot pedals, or turn dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.
  • Clean, lubricate, and maintain mechanisms such as cables, pulleys, or grappling devices, making repairs as necessary.
  • Direct truck drivers backing vehicles into loading bays and cover, uncover, or secure loads for delivery.
  • Review daily work or delivery schedules to determine orders, sequences of deliveries, or special loading instructions.
  • Inspect bundle packaging for conformance to regulations or customer requirements and remove and batch packaging tickets.
  • Inspect and adjust crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.

Crane or Tower Operator Skills

Below is a list of the skills most Crane and Tower Operators say are important on the job.

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.

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.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

  • Truck-Crane Operator
  • Mold Shifter
  • Overhead Crane Truck Loader
  • Monorail Crane Operator
  • Erecting Crane Operator

Is There Going to be Demand for Crane and Tower Operators?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 46,000 jobs in the United States for Crane or Tower Operator. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 8.5% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 3,900 new jobs for Crane or Tower Operator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 5,300 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Crane or Tower Operator are Wyoming, Nevada, and Utah. Watch out if you plan on working in Vermont, South Dakota, or Maine. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Crane and Tower Operators Make A Lot Of Money?

The salary for Crane and Tower Operators ranges between about $31,250 and $87,330 a year.


Crane and Tower Operators who work in Hawaii, Alaska, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Crane and Tower Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $48,550
Alaska $77,270
Arizona $49,730
Arkansas $38,010
California $63,850
Colorado $58,650
Connecticut $66,580
Delaware $44,820
District of Columbia $44,580
Florida $55,410
Georgia $48,790
Hawaii $82,910
Idaho $52,610
Illinois $55,930
Indiana $62,180
Iowa $55,900
Kansas $58,730
Kentucky $49,680
Louisiana $52,010
Maine $50,980
Maryland $56,200
Massachusetts $74,160
Michigan $45,220
Minnesota $55,580
Mississippi $45,180
Missouri $46,500
Montana $63,270
Nebraska $52,120
Nevada $66,390
New Jersey $69,970
New Mexico $59,950
North Carolina $48,650
North Dakota $63,450
Ohio $48,170
Oklahoma $50,140
Oregon $70,460
Pennsylvania $52,100
South Carolina $51,390
South Dakota $58,470
Tennessee $52,470
Texas $55,490
Utah $48,670
Vermont $50,720
Virginia $65,630
Washington $72,270
West Virginia $54,520
Wisconsin $47,240
Wyoming $60,750

What Tools do Crane and Tower Operators Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Crane and Tower Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Data entry software
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Inventory tracking software

How to Become a Crane or Tower Operator

Are there Crane and Tower Operators education requirements?


How many years of work experience do I need?


Who Employs Crane and Tower Operators?


The table below shows the approximate number of Crane and Tower Operators employed by various industries.


Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those interested in being a Crane or Tower Operator may also be interested in:

Those who work as a Crane or Tower Operator sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:


Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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