Heavy Machinery Mover: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a heavy machine mover. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification/licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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A heavy machinery mover operates towers and booms in order to lift heavy materials and equipment. In order to work as a heavy machinery operator, individuals must first undergo 3-4 years of vocational or employment training, and they must obtain any licensure or certification that a city or state may require. The industries commonly employing heavy machine movers include manufacturing, construction, shipping, and railroad.

Essential Information

Heavy machine movers, usually known as crane and tower operators, use towers and booms with cables that are able to lift heavy materials and machinery. They can work in a wide variety of industries, from shipping and material relocation to building and demolition. To obtain work in this field, a person is typically required to complete some form of training through either a vocational program or employment training. These programs take between three and four years to complete and usually combine classroom work with on-the-job training. In addition to this, some cities and states require crane operators to obtain a license or certification through organizations such as The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

Required Education Vocational program or employment training (3-4 years)
Other Requirements License or certification (depending on the city or state)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (crane and tower operators)
Median Salary (2015)* $51,650 (crane and tower operators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Heavy Machinery Mover Job Description

Heavy machinery movers are more commonly known as crane and tower operators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of crane and tower operators work in manufacturing, but they can also be employed at construction sites, main shipping ports and railroad yards (www.bls.gov).

The equipment they use includes towers and booms with cables that are capable of lifting heavy materials and machinery. People in this occupation typically wear protective gear and work in varied weather conditions. They are often exposed to high noise levels and pollutants.

Job Duties for Heavy Machinery Movers

Crane and tower operators need to prevent overload by comparing the heavy machinery weight with the lifting capacity of their equipment. They operate their cranes to load and unload heavy machinery from ships, rail cars or trucks. Other duties include inspecting and replacing equipment parts, cleaning and lubricating mechanisms, and making adjustments to equipment components.

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Job Requirements for Heavy Machinery Movers

To perform their jobs, heavy machinery movers must meet certain physical requirements, including having good manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Crane operators must also have accurate spatial perception. Aside from the physical requirements, the BLS stated that most employers only require their employees to be at least 18 years old. However, some prefer workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Licensure and Certification

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) stated that several state and city licensing boards regulate licensure for crane operators (www.nccco.org). A crane operator's license can be obtained by passing both a written exam and a skills test. NCCCO offers certification for crane operators that some states accept in lieu of licensure or require along with an operator's license. Certification is available for tower, mobile or overhead crane operators and requires the successful completion of a written and practical exam.

Training Requirements

According to O*Net Online, crane and tower operators are typically required to complete some formal training through vocational programs or employment training (www.onetonline.org). Apprenticeship programs are available through organizations, such as the International Union of Operating Engineers (www.iuoe.org). These programs take 3-4 years to complete and combine classroom learning with on-the-job training.

Classroom and fieldwork instruction are typically conducted by experienced journey-level workers. During training, apprentices could participate in volunteer projects and supervised work at real job sites to gain additional practical experience. Apprentices who successfully complete the program achieve journeyman status.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, material moving machine operators, a broader category that includes tower and crane operators, could see employment growth of 3% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS stated that crane and tower operators would fare a bit better, with 8% growth expected during that same period. The May 2015 BLS salary report stated that crane and tower operators had $51,650 as a median salary.

Heavy machinery movers often have to work in environments with loud noises and pollutants. Depending on the job, some of these professionals also have to work outside in a range of weather conditions. Heavy machinery movers inspect and maintain equipment regularly and prevent overloading.

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