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Crane or Tower Operator

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What Does it Take to Be a Crane or Tower Operator?

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

Daily Life Of a Crane or Tower Operator

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

Things a Crane or Tower Operator Should Know How to Do

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.

Types of Crane or Tower Operator

  • Ore Bridge Operator
  • Woodyard Crane Operator
  • Scrap Drop Crane Operator
  • Tower Loader Operator
  • Equipment Operator

Crane or Tower Operator Employment Estimates

In the United States, there were 46,000 jobs for Crane or Tower Operator in 2016. 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. There will be an estimated 5,300 positions for Crane or Tower Operator per 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.

What is the Average Salary of a Crane or Tower Operator

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?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Crane and Tower Operators:

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

How do I Become a Crane or Tower Operator?

What education is needed to be a Crane or Tower Operator?


What work experience do I need to become a Crane or Tower Operator?


Where do Crane and Tower Operators Work?


Below are examples of industries where Crane and Tower Operators work:


Similar Careers

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

Career changers with experience as a Crane or Tower Operator sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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