How to Become a <br>Rigger

How to Become a

Gabriela Bercenas
By Gabriela Bercenas - Content Strategist
Last Updated: April 20, 2023
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Are you fascinated by construction site heavy machinery, have a keen eye for detail, and want to become a rigger? Read our how to become a rigger guide to find the right training, education, skills, salary insights and mentorship advice.

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What Does a Rigger Do?

A rigger’s primary function is the lifting, moving and positioning of heavy equipment, machines and oversized loads. They work in many industries but primarily in construction, oil and gas, shipbuilding and manufacturing.

Because riggers work in many different fields, they may perform many tasks during a workday. Some typical rigger duties and responsibilities include:

  • Using equipment like cranes, pulleys, dollies, hydraulic jacks and trucks to move loads of varying size, weight and shape.

  • Selecting the proper equipment for a specific job and preparing it to properly and safely function.

  • Analyze equipment loads based on the weight, shape and size of materials to figure out the correct method of lifting.

  • Performing inspections and tests of rigging equipment and hardware to ensure safety.

  • Operating rigging equipment once a load is safely attached to hoists or pulleys.

  • Manipulating machinery controls to move the load to its intended destination carefully.

How Do You Become a Rigger

Take a look at our guide on becoming a rigger, where you can discover appropriate training, education, skill requirements, salary information, and receive guidance on finding a mentor.


Earn an OSHA-recognized degree, certification or apprenticeship.

No certification is required to be a rigger by OSHA standards, but some riggers get certified in a particular specialty. For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API) offers a training program to become a certified rigger for offshore platforms and drilling rigs. In addition, some states require special rigger licenses, depending on the job functions. The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offers two levels of rigger certification.


Develop hands-on knowledge through practical training.

Many companies train their riggers through on-the-job learning, allowing prospective employees to gain experience on the work site. Other riggers get training from an outside educator before applying for jobs. Still, other potential candidates undergo an apprenticeship, the most formal version of rigger training. In an apprenticeship, you can gain rigger experience and learn from an employer in exchange for your part-time labor for a fixed period. For most riggers, their career path combines these three types of training.


Consider optional certifications.

According to OSHA, riggers can be certified or assessed by accredited organizations or third-party trainers. However, employers often request task-related certifications to ensure the safety of their employees. Some of these certifications offered by NCCCO can include:

  • Mobile crane operator
  • Service truck crane operator
  • Drill rig operator
  • Rigger
  • Lift director

Rigger Skills

The complex nature of a rigger’s work requires both in-depth knowledge of the mechanical aspects of the job and the intelligence and competence to consider options and make judgment calls as to how to proceed with an installation. The following combination of soft and technical skills can help you successfully perform your job.

Technical skills:

1Crane safety standards and regulations
2Wire rope slings operation
3Chain slings operation
4Synthetic web slings
5Round slings
6Mesh slings
7Rigging hardware, hooks, clamps and lifts attachment.
8Crane and rigging awareness training
9Fall protection training

Soft skills:

1Good listening and comprehension skills, listening to and acting on instructions and commands.
2Creative thinking with the ingenuity to devise solutions to tricky rigging problems.
3Good physical stamina to perform physical tasks and occasionally dangerous jobs.
4Situational awareness of physical surroundings to minimize danger to self and colleagues.

Insights from a Rigger

To get some more in-depth insight into what you can expect in this industry, we interviewed professionals riggers and here is what they had to say.

What is the common career path for a Rigger?

There are various career paths for becoming a rigger. Path one would be to become part of an apprenticeship (training at a TVET college). Another path would be to become part of leadership in chemical rigging, mechanical handling or rigging ropesman.

What should someone consider before becoming a Rigger?

You might want to consider your physical condition. Being healthy and having stamina is very important to a Rigger. Another thing to consider is mental stability which is essential for these kinds of jobs. One day you might be working at extremely high altitudes another day you might be pulling heavy equipment from one place to another.

What type of person excels in this job?

Having strong communication skills is essential. Projects are built from the ground up by having good communication skills. Excellent decision-making is also a good perk to have at your disposal. This is due to the fact that most of the time you will be operating heavy machines and being mentally sharp and having a clear understanding of what you are going to due is vital.

What are some of the most important skills for Riggers to have?

Some of the most important skills for becoming a rigger is operation monitoring and complex problem-solving.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Rigger?

Being part of a project and having a critical roll in the construction process to develop something great is the most rewarding aspect of being a rigger.

How Much Do Rigger Get Paid?

Riggers are typically paid on an hourly basis, with the median hourly wage in the United States being $20.74. The lowest-paid Riggers make about $12 per hour, while the highest-paid can earn more than $35.

Top 10 States for Rigger Salary

Riggers in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.





















    Rigger Resources

    Looking for more information? We put together this list of additional resources to help you as you continue to explore a career as a Rigger.

    On the Web

    The Pro Rigger with Mike Parnell
    An experienced Rigger answers questions and gives helpful insights on this blog.
    Find hints, tips and other useful info about a career as a Rigger.

    Industry Groups

    Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association
    This group provides information, training and activities for members to safely, legally and profitably transport, lift and erect oversize and overweight items.

    Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals
    ACRP focuses on the lifting aspect of rigging, and is primarily interested in promoting safety standards and improving the quality of the equipment used and training provided.

    Rigger Books

    Handbook of Rigging: For Construction and Industrial Operations
    A hands-on reference that covers the equipment, materials, systems, and regulations used in rigging.

    Advanced Rigger Trainee Guide (Contren Learning Series)
    This trainee guide features illustrated design, technical hints and tips from industry experts, review questions and more to learn the fundamentals of rigging.