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Career profile Hoist Operator

Also known as Hoist Operator, Hoistman, Material Handler, Service Operator, Winch Derrick Operator

Hoist Operator

Also known as Hoist Operator, Hoistman, Material Handler

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$31,310 - $98,560 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Monitoring
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Move levers, pedals, and throttles to stop, start, and regulate speeds of hoist or winch drums in response to hand, bell, buzzer, telephone, loud-speaker, or whistle signals, or by observing dial indicators or cable marks.
  • Start engines of hoists or winches and use levers and pedals to wind or unwind cable on drums.
  • Apply hand or foot brakes and move levers to lock hoists or winches.
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What does a Hoist Operator do?

Hoist Operators operate or tend hoists or winches to lift and pull loads using power-operated cable equipment.

What kind of tasks does a Hoist Operator perform regularly?

Hoist Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Move levers, pedals, and throttles to stop, start, and regulate speeds of hoist or winch drums in response to hand, bell, buzzer, telephone, loud-speaker, or whistle signals, or by observing dial indicators or cable marks.
  • Start engines of hoists or winches and use levers and pedals to wind or unwind cable on drums.
  • Observe equipment gauges and indicators and hand signals of other workers to verify load positions or depths.
  • Operate compressed air, diesel, electric, gasoline, or steam-driven hoists or winches to control movement of cableways, cages, derricks, draglines, loaders, railcars, or skips.
  • Select loads or materials according to weight and size specifications.
  • Move or reposition hoists, winches, loads and materials, manually or using equipment and machines such as trucks, cars, and hand trucks.
  • Signal and assist other workers loading or unloading materials.
  • Attach, fasten, and disconnect cables or lines to loads, materials, and equipment, using hand tools.

The above responsibilities are specific to Hoist Operators. More generally, Hoist Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.

What is a Hoist Operator salary?

The median salary for a Hoist Operator is $62,610, and the average salary is $62,730. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Hoist Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Hoist Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Hoist Operators earn less than $31,310 per year, 25% earn less than $42,140, 75% earn less than $81,860, and 90% earn less than $98,560.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Hoist Operators is expected to change by 4.0%, and there should be roughly 600 open positions for Hoist Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$31,310 - $98,560
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Hoist Operators?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Hoist Operator are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Hoist Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Hoist Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Hoist Operators very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Hoist Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Hoist Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Hoist Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as initiative, independence, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Hoist Operators, ranked by importance:

Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Hoist Operators need?

Working as a Hoist Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Hoist Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Hoist Operators

  • 16.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 57.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 20.1% completed some college coursework
  • 2.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 2.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.7% earned a Master's degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Hoist Operators

Hoist Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, customer and personal service, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Hoist Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Hoist Operators

Hoist Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Hoist Operators need abilities such as problem sensitivity, arm-hand steadiness, and control precision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Hoist Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Reaction Time
The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
Depth Perception
The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.

Critical Skills needed by Hoist Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Hoist Operators frequently use skills like critical thinking, monitoring, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Hoist Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.