(3-min read)

For some of us, the idea of climbing into an equipment cab attached to a temporary structure some 30 stories off the ground is enough to make our palms sweat. For others, few jobs sound more thrilling than that of a tower crane operator. In this piece, the first in our “Role Profiles” series, we’ll explore the role of the crane operator for a commercial construction company.

Necessary Background & Certification

The role of a crane operator goes beyond moving joysticks back and forth high above the earth. This position not only requires the ability to safely and effectively operate a massive crane, but to also have a thorough knowledge of the cranes, attachments, and balances in weight over expanses.

Crane operators may either have their training provided by their employer or seek it out independently. Most operator licenses require the successful completion of a rigorous 2-4 year apprenticeship program as well as other heavy equipment operator training programs. Operators not only understand the controls of heavy equipment, but grasp capabilities of certain models of equipment, how to inspect the equipment, and how to best perform their jobs safely.

Some commercial construction companies prefer to advance their own employees through a crane operator program. Others may want or need to hire experienced crane operators. In these instances, most of these companies require completely up-to-date certifications as well as 2-4 years of worksite experience.

A Day in the Life

It likely goes without saying that the role of a crane operator is not for those afraid of heights. As the tower cranes take on weight or catch passing wind gusts, they may creak, flex, and gently sway—all conditions a veteran crane operator has learned to accept. An operator is expected to spend long hours in the cab a tower crane. These hours include lifting and carefully directed tons of construction materials to precise positions. Successful tower crane operators have to feel the crane as an extension of their own bodies.

The Tango of the Operator & the Rigger

The relationship between a crane operator and a crane rigger is a unique one in the construction industry. These two must be in constant communication and of a similar thought process. A constant hand-off of information and materials makes clear and calm communication a mandatory facet of their working relationship.

The Pros & Cons

For the right individual, the role of crane operator is one of the most appealing in the construction industry. This person needs to tolerate, if not even enjoy, heights. Though the work is rarely laborious by the construction industry’s usual definition of the word, it often requires long hours of intense concentration.

Commercial Construction Serving the Greater Tulsa Area

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