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Winch Operators

Winch Operators - Occupation Overview

  • Control cables, cages, and platforms used to move materials
  • Repair, maintain, and adjust equipment and machines
  • Work outdoors in all types of weather conditions
  • May work less during winter
  • Usually train on the job
  • Often get jobs through unions
  • Earn $83,332 per year (Illinois median)
  • Earn $39,960 per year (national median)

Hoist and winch operators control cables, cages, and platforms used to move materials from place to place on a job site or in a factory.

Hoist and winch operators begin by measuring or weighing the materials to be moved. The size, shape, and weight of the load determine how it can be moved. Operators decide whether the materials should be moved on a platform, in a metal cage, or by hooks and cables.

After moving materials onto platforms or into cages, operators attach cables, hooks, and lines to loads. They use equipment such as jacks, slings, cables, and stop blocks to control and position the loads. They use wrenches to tighten the connections.

Hoist and winch operators control machines that pull the cables and lift materials off the ground. They control the machines with switches, levers, and foot pedals. While moving materials, operators watch the loads to make sure they do not hit anything. They follow signals given by other workers. They also watch dials and indicators inside their equipment.

Some hoist and winch operators work on derricks. Derricks are tall, metal cage towers used for mining and drilling for oil. A cable and pulley system is built in the tower. Hoist and winch operators control this system to lift materials inside the tower. They may climb ladders to check equipment there.

Hoist and winch operators repair, maintain, and adjust equipment and machines. For example, they oil moving parts so that winches lift items smoothly.


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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.