Riggers / Hoisting Engineers

Assembling the set for a major arena concert, moving heavy equipment for a construction project, loading cargo on a ship, Riggers set up or repair rigging equipment so that loads are moved safely and accurately. Riggers select the appropriate gear, such as cables, pulleys, and winches, to move particular load weights and sizes. After assembling the rigging, they test it, attach loads to the rigging, and move the loads using cranes or hoists. Riggers use verbal and hand signals to communicate with other workers to hoist and move materials. Riggers must maintain control of load movement and navigate confined spaces and narrow openings. They also set up and repair structures such as scaffolds, and dismantle them after use. As they work both in and out of doors, around heavy equipment and materials, riggers regularly wear safety shoes, hard hats, hearing protection, and other safety gear. Being successful as a rigger requires good communication skills, fast decision making, precision, and physical coordination. In addition to construction, shipping, and the entertainment industry, riggers work in logging yards, and in manufacturing plants. Most rigger positions require a high school diploma and on-the-job training.

Material moving machine operators use machinery to transport various objects. Some operators move construction materials around building sites or excavate earth from a mine. Others move goods around a warehouse or onto container ships.

What Do Riggers / Hoisting Engineers Do?


Material moving machine operators typically do the following:

  • Set up and inspect material moving equipment
  • Control equipment with levers, wheels, or foot pedals
  • Move material according to a plan or schedule
  • Signal and direct workers to load, unload, and position materials
  • Keep a record of the material they move and where they move it to
  • Make minor repairs to their equipment

In warehouses, most material moving machine operators use forklifts and conveyor belts. Wireless sensors and tags are increasingly being used to keep track of merchandise, allowing operators to locate them faster. Some operators also check goods for damage. These operators usually work closely with hand laborers and material movers.

Many operators work for underground and surface mining companies. They help to dig or expose the mine, remove the earth and rock, and extract coal, ore, and other mined materials.

In construction, material moving machine operators remove earth to clear space for buildings. Some work on a building site for the entire length of the construction project. For example, certain material moving machine operators help to construct highrise buildings by transporting materials to workers who are far above ground level.

All material moving machine operators are responsible for the safe operation of their equipment or vehicle.

The following are examples of types of material moving machine operators:

Conveyor operators and tenders control conveyor systems that move materials on an automatic belt. They move materials to and from places such as storage areas, vehicles, and building sites. They monitor sensors on the conveyor to regulate the speed with which the conveyor belt moves. Operators also may check the shipping order and determine the route that materials take along a conveyor.

Crane and tower operators use tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machinery, or other heavy objects. From a control station, operators can extend and retract horizontal booms, rotate the superstructure, and lower and raise hooks attached to cables at the end of their crane or tower. Operators usually are guided by workers on the ground who use hand signals or who transmit voice signals through a radio. Most crane and tower operators work at construction sites or major ports, where they load and unload cargo. Some operators work in iron and steel mills.

Dredge operators excavate waterways. They operate equipment on the water to remove sand, gravel, or rock from harbors or lakes. Removing these materials helps to prevent erosion and maintain navigable waterways, and allows larger ships to use ports. Dredging also is used to help restore wetlands and maintain beaches.

Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators use machines equipped with scoops or shovels. They dig sand, earth, or other materials and load them onto conveyors or into trucks for transport elsewhere. They may also move material within a confined area, such as a construction site. Operators typically receive instructions from workers on the ground through hand signals or through voice signals transmitted by radio. Most of these operators work in construction or mining industries.

Hoist and winch operators, also called derrick operators, control the movement of platforms, cables, and cages that transport workers or materials in industrial operations, such as constructing a highrise building. Many of these operators raise platforms far above the ground. Operators regulate the speed of the equipment on the basis of the needs of the workers. Many work in manufacturing, mining, and quarrying industries.

Industrial truck and tractor operators drive trucks and tractors that move materials around warehouses, storage yards, or worksites. These trucks, often called forklifts, have a lifting mechanism and forks, which make them useful for moving heavy and large objects. Some industrial truck and tractor operators drive tractors that pull trailers loaded with material around factories or storage areas.

Underground mining loading machine operators load coal, ore, and other rocks onto shuttles, mine cars, or conveyors for transport from a mine to the surface. They may use power shovels, hoisting engines equipped with scrapers or scoops, and automatic gathering arms that move materials onto a conveyor. Operators also drive their machines farther into the mine in order to gather more material.

Career Snapshot

Set up or repair rigging for construction projects, manufacturing plants, logging yards, ships and shipyards, or for the entertainment industry.

(Other job titles for this construction occupation:  Gantry Rigger, Hand Rigger, Heavy Lift Rigger, Machinery Erector, Machinery Mover, Marine Rigger, Rigger, Rigging Foreman, Rigging Supervisor, Ship Rigger)

Job Details

Riggers typically do the following:

  • Signal or verbally direct workers engaged in hoisting and moving loads to ensure safety of workers and materials
  • Test rigging to ensure safety and reliability
  • Attach loads to rigging to provide support or prepare them for moving, using hand and power tools
  • Select gear such as cables, pulleys, and winches, according to load weights and sizes, facilities, and work schedules
  • Control movement of heavy equipment through narrow openings or confined spaces, using chainfalls, gin poles, gallows frames, and other equipment
  • Tilt, dip, and turn suspended loads to maneuver over, under, or around obstacles, using multi-point suspension techniques
  • Align, level, and anchor machinery
  • Fabricate, set up, and repair rigging, supporting structures, hoists, and pulling gear, using hand and power tools
  • Manipulate rigging lines, hoists, and pulling gear to move or support materials such as heavy equipment, ships, or theatrical sets
  • Attach pulleys and blocks to fixed overhead structures such as beams, ceilings, and gin pole booms, using bolts and clamps
  • Dismantle and store rigging equipment after use

Education and Experience

Most individuals with a desire to work as a Rigger initially work under the supervision of an expert as an apprentice with a duration of a few months to one year.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: The average wage for a Rigger in 2019 was approximately $51,000
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 4-6%
  • Entry-level education: High school education or equivalent, initial training is done on-the-job

Career Growth Opportunity

With experience, you could progress into the role of a supervisor or team leader.  You could also work as a self-employed rigger, or become a consultant for projects.

Professional Associations

  • International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers - This organization represents 120,000 members in North America have worked on nearly every major construction project across the country.
  • Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association - The SCRA advocates, educates and provides networking opportunities that help industry stakeholders operate safely, legally and profitably around the world.
  • Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals - This organization works to develop national quality standards for the training and qualification process of crane operators and those who perform rigging activities.
  • Scaffold & Access Industry Association - SAIA members are characteristically open to sharing their expertise as well as mentoring others. The global nature of SAIA affords the possibility of interchange and networking with peers from diverse locations and cultural backgrounds.
  • NYC Special Riggers Association - NYCSRA is dedicated to keeping their membership updated on safety trends and methods, including but not limited to NYC Department of Buildings/OSHA code changes and compliance, with emphasis on the safety of workers and the general public.
  • Foundation for Trades - The goal of the Foundation for Trades organization is to help a new generation see the value of working with their hands and appreciating a job well done by hard work and talent. We offer a foundation of knowledge in the areas of building trades that will help propel an ever-diminishing workforce toward a rewarding future.
  • Trades Women - Founded in 1979 as a grassroots support organization, the mission of Trades Women is outreach, recruitment, retention and leadership development for women in blue-collar skilled craft.
  • TEACH Construction - TEACH Construction focuses on creating curriculum, and the related Instructional Resources, for the teaching of basic to intermediate skills in construction.
  • North America’s Building Trades Union - NABTU is dedicated to the stability of employment and economic security of organized construction workers in North America. Its purpose is to create more work opportunities, achieve living wages and protect benefit standards, not just for the members of its 14 national and international union affiliates, but for all construction workers.
  • Professional Lighting & Sound Association - PLASA works to ensure that each sector is fully represented and plays an active role in highlighting best practice and safe working conditions.  Its membership body supplies technologies and services to the event and entertainment industries.
  • National Skilled Trades Network - NSTN is a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS) and seeks to support youth and young adults in under-served communities in acquiring the skills needed to become certified skilled trades workers and employable in the lucrative skilled trades industry.
  • The Building Trades Alliance - BTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the building trades and to the partnership between the various building trade unions and contractors that drives progress throughout our nation.
  • Construction Employers Association - This organization is committed to leading, learning and making a difference in the Ohio construction industry.  Members include construction companies, specialty contractors, suppliers, and associations – all of whom are among the best in the industry.
  • SkillsUSA - SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Its mission is to help each student excel. A non-profit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service (including health) occupations.
  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices – in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors. Its readers are leaders at major contractors, engineering and design firms, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers of construction materials and building products, as well as public and private project owners and regulators.
  • Builder Online - Articles, research, conferences, editorials, reports and so much more on all topics relative to the skilled construction trades businesses.
  • AEC Business - This website is a blog and podcast forum for construction innovations. It is a great resource for construction business owners looking to up their game with strategic insights. Filled with useful how-to's and a simple writing style, it’s a must-read for construction managers wanting to stay “in the know.”
  • Construction Executive - Construction Executive is a magazine specifically for individuals on the upper rungs of the construction management ladder. It offers insights into the industry’s latest technology and trends, as well as helpful tips for budgeting and building.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.


  • American Crane & Transports Magazine – Magazine for the crane, lifting and transport industry.
  • rigging.com (Division of Toolwell) - a plethora of articles relative to learning about rigging...
  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors.
  • STRUCTURE - Content in STRUCTURE includes detailed discussions on unique structural solutions, project overviews, technical updates and in-depth code reviews, all designed to keep structural engineers informed and up to date.
  • Hoist Magazine - latest news, latest features, events, digital editions...
  • Wire Rope Exchange - Published bi-monthly with circulation reaching 5,000 companies in over 40 countries worldwide, available both online and print.

Industry-related certification information pertinent to the Rigging career sub-sector:

  • National Rigging Certificate - The National Rigging Certificate (NRC) is the certification relevant for anyone actively working in rigging in the event and entertainment industry.
  • Rigger Certification Providers - This list of providers issued by NCCER.
  • Entertainment Technician Certification Program - ETCP is an industry-wide program that has brought together an unprecedented group of industry organizations, businesses and individuals to create a program of rigorous assessments for professional technicians.
  • Crane Inspection & Certification Bureau - The objective of CICB’s Rigger Training Programs is to vividly impress upon the students the necessity for safety in all aspects of rigging operations and procedures.
  • Crane Institute of America, LLC - hands-on training for mobile cranes, boom trucks, and rigging. Crane Institute’s programs are excellent for trainees or as a refresher for experienced personnel.
  • Crane Tech - Crane Tech offers a full range of rigging programs to meet every need and industry.
  • Industrial Training International Inc. - An industrial training company with on-site training programs available with hands-on activities for participants to perform proper operating and rigging practices, to conduct efficient inspections and provide quality maintenance.
  • Lift-It - Offers sling safety seminars focused on basic and advanced rigging, sling inspection, fall prevention demonstrations.
  • NACB Rigging Training - Comprehensive courses that focus on industrial rigging.