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Hoist Operator: Job Outlook & Career Info

Mar 12, 2019

Hoist operators, also known as hoist and winch operators, do the heavy lifting at manufacturing plants, other types of industrial facilities and construction sites. Find out about this career, including training requirements and salary potential.

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Career Definition for Hoist Operators

Hoist operators manage and manipulate equipment that uses cables, platforms and cages to lift and move people or large objects off the ground. These services are needed at a variety of projects, from constructing large office towers to installing engines into boats. Large drilling operations, such as those found at oil wells or mining sites, also rely on hoist operators, as does the logging industry.

Education On-site training or apprenticeship; some individual classes may be available through training schools
Job Skills Concentration, giving and taking orders, basic machinery knowledge, maintaining and repairing equipment
Median Salary (2017) $43,210* (hoist and winch operators)
Career Outlook (2016-2026) -1%* (hoist and winch operators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

In most cases, hoist operators train at the job site under the tutelage of experienced veterans of the trade. The International Union of Operating Engineers offers an apprenticeship program that can last up to four years. Some training schools offer classes that could interest hoist operators. The length of these courses varies depending on the subject matter.

Skills Required

Hoist operators must understand the basics of machinery in order to maintain and repair their equipment. In addition, ability to concentrate is needed to maneuver large, complex devices through work sites. Giving and taking direction is also a must for anyone interested in a career as a hoist operator.

Career and Economic Outlook

The BLS projects that jobs for hoist and winch operators will decrease by 1% from 2016 to 2026. The median annual salary of winch and hoist operators was $43,210 as of May 2017, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Alternative Career Options

Similar jobs can include:

Dredge Operator

Those interested in working with material-moving machines, but who want to work solely on waterways, may want to explore the career of dredge operator. Dredge operators control equipment designed to dig out and deepen waterways so that larger boats and ships can navigate them. On-the-job training is common for dredge operators. As of May 2017, the BLS reported that dredge operators had a median salary of $43,230. These workers are projected to increase by 5% from 2016-2026, which is about average, according to the BLS.

Material Recording Clerk

Those interested in the material moving business, but who prefer not to operate heavy equipment, may be interested in a career as a material recording clerk. These inspectors check materials delivered to warehouses and weigh and measure them. They keep records of their findings and may prepare inventory reports. Material recording clerks typically learn how to do their job through on-the-job training. The BLS projects that this career field will grow at a slower-than-average pace of 4% from 2016 to 2026. The 2017 median salary for material recording clerks was $27,600, according to the BLS.

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