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Crane and Tower Operators

Crane and Tower Operators - Occupation Overview

  • Operate machinery to lift and move heavy loads
  • Maintain their vehicles and equipment
  • Often use radios to communicate with coworkers
  • Usually work outdoors
  • Usually work a 40-hour week
  • Train through an apprenticeship, technical program, or on the job
  • Earn $59,405 per year (Illinois median)
  • Earn $47,290 per year (national median)

Crane and tower operators use machinery to lift and move heavy loads.

A crane is a machine that picks up and moves heavy objects. It operates by means of cables attached to a moveable arm, called a boom. Operators move the boom in or out to lower or raise a hook hanging from it. Most operators receive hand signals or radioed instructions from coworkers that tell them where to move loads.

At construction sites and ports, operators load, unload, and move cargo where it needs to go. They weigh loads, using floor scales, and record weights for company records. They make sure the lifting capacity on their equipment is able to handle the load. They inspect loads to be sure they are packaged properly for lifting.

Many operators also inspect, clean, adjust, and service their own equipment.

Crane and tower operators keep records of the materials they move. They also review delivery schedules to determine the order they need to move the objects.


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Illinois workNet Centers are an equal opportunity employer/program. At Illinois workNet Centers, auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. All voice telephone numbers on this website may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment by calling TTY (800) 785-6055 or 711.