What’s good about it
The job can pay quite well; at the end of a work week you can expect to make around $2,000 after tax. Not bad for a job that does not require a university degree only a one-week course
Tower cranes have the best views around. You see all sorts of stuff from the tower. Many a crane operator have binoculars to take advantage of the great views
Your only link with the people below is via radio communication. Unless you are on a remote control crane you don’t get people coming up to you and bothering you, the dogman or crane coordinator deals with that
Clean and safe
You are above the noise and dust of grinders, jackhammers, dust, welding etc.
No chance of manual handling injury or dust related illness whilst up in the crane cabin
You are generally treated quite well by the builder, foreman etc. on the site. It’s quite the opposite for the labourer. I never understand why the ones that are the lowest paid and do the work no one else wants to do are treated so badly
Avoiding the traffic
At least in the morning, early starts at 630am or 7am mean that you are going to miss the peak hour traffic
In quiet times such as days of a concrete pour or in the early stages of construction there may be only a handful of lifts in a day. You would be amazed how much reading you can get done in that cabin
The saying that best describes tower crane operation is ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’
The only controls are left/right and forward/back on one lever and hook up/hook down on the other. Simple yet it takes years to be a good operator. After all these years I am still learning new things on the job and becoming a better crane operator
Working as a team
The crane is a team sport and everyone on the team has a role to play. It’s great when you have a good team. When this happens even the most difficult of tasks are never a problem.
I have heard it said ‘the steel drives them wild’ referring to structural steel riggers. Maybe it does, maybe it’s the recreational drugs, maybe they were born wild but whatever the reason you will meet some interesting characters. They’ll make you laugh, shake your head then laugh some more.
What’s bad about it
One of the reasons it pays so well is the long hours. Per hour the pay is average but when you are doing 60 plus hours a week sure the pay will be good. Expect to be the first to start, last to leave. You see some cranes working at 7pm
Climbing the tower
Climbing the tower first thing in the morning is not that much fun. It’s also not fun climbing down when there is a lightning storm, worrying about if it will hit your tower.
Stuck in the cabin
Your stuck in a small glass box for hours/days/weeks/months. It gets to some people, less to others. Fortunately, I am the latter.
Sometimes depending who you work for you may get stuck with a stupid newbie or even worse an incompetent know it all (the newbie can’t help it and will pick it up, the know it all cannot be taught)
A good dogman will make an average crane operator look good while a bad dogman can make even the best crane operators look bad.
The cyclical nature of the work
Extremely low job security in this line of work. Housing downturns are harsh and beyond the control of the worker. When they strike you may have to get used to being unemployed for a while. Also you can find yourself out of a job when one stops and you are looking for a new one, this time I have found to be around one month- save your money!
No toilet up the top of the crane tower. Peeing in a bottle gets old after a while.
Overall the good far outweighs the bad, well for me anyway. I have seen a few crane operators get sick of the job for whatever reason and leave for other work, so its not for everyone.
PS Its not Gatorade in the bottle!
Missed an article?
Type what you are looking for in the search bar or click on the archives