Exploring Manufacturing CareersCrane Operator

In our educational series, we explore different careers in manufacturing.

Coming with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, cranes provide some of the most significant mechanisms in construction projects, such as lifting, and moving building materials. Crane and tower operators operate these mechanical tower and cable or boom and cable machinery to move and lift materials, machines, or products in various directions for both the construction and manufacturing industries.

While some operators could move the land around a mine, or construction materials around building sites, others could move merchandises to container ships or inside a warehouse. All crane and tower operators are responsible for the safety and maintenance of their vehicle or equipment.

With the development of automated sensors and tags inside warehouses, most material-moving machine operators keep track of the merchandise and transport it through forklifts and conveyor belts. Some operators check items for damages and usually work closely with hand material movers.

For the underground and surface mining companies, crane and tower operators remove unnecessary rocks and earth to assist in digging or exposing mines, as well as extracting ore and other mined resources. Meanwhile, operators remove earth to clear space for buildings in construction sites. Some would work on a building site for the entire duration of the construction project and assist in transporting materials to workers far above the ground level.

Why Become a Crane Operator

Although there are no specific educational requirements for entry-level crane operators, some manufacturing firms prefer applicants with a high school diploma or the equivalent. The International Union of Operating Engineers offers apprenticeship programs for heavy equipment operators, such as crane operators or excavating machine operators. Depending on the type of material moving machine, employers normally provide paid on-the-job training for crane operators, which they could learn at least in less than a month. A number of states and several cities oblige crane operators to obtain license, wherein operators must complete a skills test in controlling a crane and a written examination about safety rules and procedures.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a projected growth of seventeen percent for the employment of crane and tower operators from 2012 to 2022. As global shipping improves, there will be an expected increase for job openings at the ports to load and unload large cargo ships though increasing automation at ports may moderate employment growth for operators. Salary reports indicate that the mean annual wage for the employed crane and tower operators would be roughly $53,550 as of May 2014.

Crane Operator Work Environment

With safety at risk, crane operators in construction sites work outdoors at great heights in all types of weather. Exposure to harmful chemicals could be frequent for operators in some industries, although injuries related to this have been minimal thanks to the improvement of regulations and safety equipment. Nowadays, workers wear gloves, hardhats, or respirators as part of their daily uniforms. With longer working shifts and overtime common, most crane and tower operators work full time in an eight-hour shift. Some warehouses that shipped materials around the clock require operators to work overnight shifts.

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