Become a Hoist Operator: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a hoist operator. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as a hoist operator.

Should I Become a Hoist Operator?

Hoist operators work in industrial settings, operating electric hoists that lift and move equipment and goods. They also inspect equipment and make necessary minor repairs. This work may be physically challenging, and hoist operators sometimes work at extreme heights in various types of weather conditions. Various precautions must be taken to ensure workers' safety, including the use of protective equipment and clothing.

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Career Requirements

Education Required High school diploma is standard
Licensure and/or Certification Licensure requirements vary by state; certification might be preferred by employers
Experience Training takes place on the job and can last three months or longer
Key Skills Manual dexterity, near vision and multi-limb coordination, alertness, mechanical ability, ability to work as a team player, ability to estimate doorway space after visual assessment
Salary $48,820 (mean annual wage for hoist and winch operators, May 2014)

Sources: Occupational Information Network, Job ads posted in January 2013, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete Training

Training for hoist operators usually takes place on the job, where new hires learn from experienced hoist operators. Those who want to be eligible for more challenging and better-paid positions might opt to complete a formal training or apprenticeship program through the International Union of Operating Engineers. Students in these programs attend classes and receive paid on-the-job training.

Step 2: Learn Specialized Safety Procedures

Hoist operators who work with hazardous materials or dangerous equipment are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to complete safety training. Employers usually provide safety training and evaluate and certify workers periodically.

Step 3: Obtain Licensure and/or Certification

Licensure requirements for hoist operators and other material moving workers vary by state; most states do not require formal licensure. However, some employers require hoist operators to be certified by an organization such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. Even when not required, holding credentials from the NCCCO can help prospective hoist operators demonstrate their knowledge and skills in such areas as derrick and boom truck operation.

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