Rigger Job Description
Riggers move extra-heavy equipment, machinery, and materials that cannot be moved through conventional methods. This is a skilled position that requires a high amount of teamwork and clear communication. Candidates who are safety-oriented and dedicated to doing their job as efficiently as possible are good fits for this role. Riggers typically work in the manufacturing and construction industries, where heavy machinery and materials are often used. As such, they work around heavy machinery outdoors and in industrial settings and report directly to a shift lead or master rigger. Riggers usually work day shifts, but they may also be required to work overtime or night shifts depending on the amount of work that needs to be done.
Rigger Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for riggers vary based on their employer and the type of material they move. However, there are several core tasks associated with all rigging jobs, such as:
Prepare Materials for Moving
Before moving any heavy machinery or materials, they first need to prepare the load for moving. This includes dismantling machinery and storing materials appropriately so that they’re safe and protected during the move.
Prepare Rigging Equipment
Riggers use a wide variety of rigging tools to move heavy materials. They’re responsible for properly setting up these tools – including pulleys, beams, bolts, clamps, and more – so the materials handling and moving goes smoothly.
Move the Materials or Machinery
After everything has been prepared and set up, riggers are then responsible for the proper moving and handling of the materials or machinery. They control every movement of the materials as they are transported, often communicating with their team members to ensure the safety of everyone and everything involved in the process.
Set Up Moved Machinery
A rigger is responsible for setting up the machinery they’ve moved in the proper manner. This mostly includes aligning the machinery in its new spot, leveling it properly, and anchoring it so it doesn’t move during use.
Store Rigging Equipment
Rigging equipment needs to be stored properly to stay in good condition. Riggers are responsible for breaking down their rigging equipment and storing it appropriately after they’re done with a job. Proper storage also helps riggers set up more quickly when it’s time to do another job.
Rigger Skills and Qualifications
Riggers are technically minded can think logically about the job at hand to perform it in the most efficient way possible. Successful candidates have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some employers prefer their riggers to have experience in industrial settings around rigging equipment, but not all do. Successful rigger candidates also possess the following qualifications and skills:
- Physical fitness – riggers are manual laborers and have the physical capacity to lift heavy loads with ease. Most employers look for candidates who can lift 75-plus pounds
- Commercial driving experience – some employers also require their riggers to drive the trucks that transport heavy materials and machinery. As such, riggers may need a commercial driver’s license. Check the specific job description to see if this is required
- Spatial awareness – riggers need a high level of spatial awareness so they can appropriately move bulky, awkward materials through tight spaces. They need to determine if certain things will fit through tight areas on the fly
- Communication and teamwork – riggers work on a team, and they must communicate clearly so everything runs smoothly. Speaking Spanish is often a plus for many employers
- Concern for safety – rigging can be dangerous, and successful riggers pay special attention to safety. They know how to recognize when a situation is about to go wrong and can move quickly to prevent harm to themselves and others
Tools of the Trade
Riggers use a wide variety of special tools to move heavy equipment and materials. These tools include:
- Hooks and shackles
- Slings and cables
- Power tools
Rigger Education and Training
Some employers require their riggers to have at least a high school diploma or GED, but many don’t have any education requirements. However, most employers require riggers to be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).
Since rigging is a highly specialized job, most of the learning takes place on the job. Riggers may go through a brief period of classroom or office training, but employers tend to get new riggers out in the field to learn from their team. This on-the-job training includes learning about the rigging equipment and how it works, as well as the proper way to set it up.
Rigger Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), riggers can expect to make an average yearly salary of around $50,000. This can fluctuate based on experience. Those with the most experience earn up to $75,000 per year, while those with the least amount of experience make as little as $30,000 per year. Most riggers also receive paid overtime and time off along with a benefits package that includes health insurance.
The BLS reports that the job growth outlook for riggers is expected to stay around 9 percent over the next 10 years. As more manufacturing companies move toward automation and using more machinery, more riggers will be needed to move this equipment.
Read through these helpful resources to learn more about riggers and their responsibilities:
Crane and Hoist Training: Operator, Rigger, Inspector – this LinkedIn group has around 3,000 members who are all dedicated to improving their training in crane and hoist operation. They network and share ideas with each other, making this a great place to learn more about what the job entails. It also gives potential candidates the opportunity to meet other industry professionals
Rigging Handbook – this fully illustrated handbook is useful to crane operators, rigging professionals, and millwrights. The book touches on all the basics of professional rigging, helping you get up to speed on modern techniques and theory
Rigging Math Made Simple – rigging math is about as complicated as it gets, and it’s also critically important because a bad calculation can spell disaster. This book contains helpful tips and tricks for remembering rigging formulas, specifically for entertainment rigging settings
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