Crane and Tower Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Crane and Tower Operators Career Video



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

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Determines load weights and checks them against lifting capacities to prevent overload.
  • Moves levers, depresses foot pedals, or turns dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.
  • Inspects and adjusts crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.
  • Inspects cables or grappling devices for wear and installs or replaces cables, as needed.
  • Directs helpers engaged in placing blocking or outrigging under cranes.
  • Cleans, lubricates, and maintains mechanisms such as cables, pulleys, or grappling devices, making repairs as necessary.
  • Loads or unloads bundles from trucks or moves containers to storage bins, using moving equipment.
  • Reviews daily work or delivery schedules to determine orders, sequences of deliveries, or special loading instructions.
  • Inspects bundle packaging for conformance to regulations or customer requirements and removes and batches packaging tickets.
  • Directs truck drivers backing vehicles into loading bays and covers, uncovers, or secures loads for delivery.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing objects clearly in glaring conditions or bright lighting
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Crane Operator -- Operates cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations.
  • Heavy Equipment Operator --
  • Machine Operator --
  • Material Handler -- Moves merchandise and materials through the company from shipments into the company to the production floor and shipments on its way to customers.
  • Mobile Crane Operator --
  • Overhead Crane Operator --
  • Port Crane Operator --
  • Scrap Crane Operator --
  • Winchman/Crane Operator --
  • Woodyard Crane Operator --