Drill Bits

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From the window of my home, I can see two cranes against the skyline. I live in Houston and over the past few years, cranes have become a pretty common site. With binoculars, I can see the sole operator in his solitary perch. All day he swings the long lateral arm. Sometimes it is a bucket of cement, other times long steel rods and other assorted materials. Any other method of moving so varied payloads would take a great deal more time and human power.

I often wonder what does it take and what is involved in becoming a tower crane operator? Through the genius of my desk top, I found one such operator.* He has been a CCO certified crane operator since 1999, but he has been operating crawlers, hammerheads, gentry and other types of cranes for 32 years. Over the years, he had done just about anything and everything you can do with a crane including driving piles, lifting, drop balling, and loading and unloading ships.

He got his training through an apprenticeship program. Even though he is CCO certified, he has remained a “permanent student” continuing to take classes. His CCO certified training gives those around him the confidence that he will do the job safely, efficiently and timely. There might be places that don’t require the certification but having it lets him decide if such a place is a good one to work.

He says his biggest challenge is keeping up with the ever demanding complexities of the cranes. Older cranes were more robust than the newer ones so operators have to be more tolerant of the limits of the newer ones. He goes on to say, “CCO certification is a great equalizer because it reduces employer’s prejudice and opens up opportunities to demographic groups that might not have been given the opportunity to operate cranes. If you’re CCO certified, you have the evidence that you know what you’re doing.”

When not operating cranes he rides motorcycles and serves as a community board member.

His story fits my ideals about craft professionals. They have strong education and training backgrounds, rooted in technology and years of varied and complex experiences. They have worked in a wide variety of environments and remain ‘permanent students’ learning from classes and other professionals. Finally, they are always mindful of the heavy responsibilities they shoulder.

Next time: the value of NCCER Core.

*see NCCCO-CCO

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