How to become a rigger

Riggers play a vital role on construction sites. If as a child, you were the one setting up complicated Lego structures, and bridges with pulleys then you will be in seventh heaven as a rigger. On construction sites, riggers function in what you could describe as a giant playground. Except of course you are there for serious business. Working with clamps, bolts, hooks, knots, pulleys you assemble, position and build the structures used in construction. When there are heavy objects to move, you are there with your slings and hoisting equipment. When there is machinery needed to set up scaffolding, you are behind the wheel. Every day will be different and the life of a Rigger is one immersed in the action.  

Can you see yourself operating machinery? Do you like the sound of completing difficult tasks using equipment such as pulleys? Are you a secret physics buff? You like to get things done? Then, keep reading to find out how to get started on the path to become a rigger.  

Step one: Choose a course to get you started 

Riggers will need specialist knowledge to carry out their work, and the first step to gain the knowledge you need is to enrol on a course. A general or targeted course in construction is a good starting point. Make sure the course you choose is an accredited course for rigging or scaffolding. These construction specific courses will give you the background and specific knowledge you need to work safely on site.

Step two: Get your Licence to Work

To work as a rigger you will need a licence. Licences can vary according to state and the industry you will work in. You can find riggers in construction and other industries such as the entertainment industry and on oil rigs. This means, you need to consider where you will want to work and the opportunities in the area when applying for your licence.

Step three: Apply for your first Job

Pulleys and machines here you come. Once you have some qualifications and your licence you are ready to apply for work. When writing your resume and cover letter make sure you highlight your skills, qualifications and any relevant experience you may have. 

Step four: Consider a specialisation

As a rigger, there is a good demand for your skills and the building industry is currently in a boom time. At the moment they project opportunities for riggers should grow. There are many specialities you can consider to progress your career.

Dockside Rigger

As an essential part of the rigging process dockside riggers manufacture safety products for the trade. You splice and braid rope and wire together.  You also manufacture restraints for high-pressure pipes and hoses. Other products you might develop and manufacture could be safety and cargo netting, or embarkation ladders. Installing and assembling the equipment on site can also be a part of the dockside riggers role.

Scaffolder

As the scaffolder, you work in cooperation with riggers onsite to put up and take down scaffolding. This important job requires attention to detail to ensure the safety of the people who will use the scaffolding. You put up the steel pipes and walkways, securing everything using clamps and bolts. This is a practical job and a good option for people who enjoy building structures.

Steel Fixer

On large construction sites, concrete must have steel bars and mesh inserted as a part of the building process. This improves the strength and stability of the concrete. The steel fixer oversees the construction making sure they correctly install the metal bars and mesh on the build. You make sure the steel is in place and then construction workers can pour the concrete.

Rigger Duties

The rigger is a busy bee usually found on large commercial construction sites. You enable other people on site to get their work done. This is by helping to get everything in position at the right time or to enable access for workers on the build. For example, you erect cranes and extend them if needed. You install cable and pulley systems so you can move heavy items around the site.  Using rigging gear you move heavy loads around. Such as construction equipment or building materials like structural steel and concrete slabs. Without you, construction would come to a quick halt. You could say a rigger is the grease which makes the construction site run smoothly

Tasks

  • Assembling scaffolding on building exteriors
  • Using equipment to reinforce scaffolding when needed
  • Disassembling scaffolding at the conclusion of the project
  • Erecting and extending the crane
  • Installing cable and pulley systems on site
  • Using rigging gear to transport, install or move heavy items around the construction site
  • Calculating load weights so you can use the appropriate equipment

Skills for success

You need to have a strong physique to manage all the equipment and other heavy items you come into contact with. You will be tightening and loosening bolts and other equipment as a part of your daily work. Good hand-eye coordination is important. Yet, the work is not just physical. You also need to have a sharp mind to calculate the load-bearing capabilities of the equipment in relation to the objects you want to move. You need to make decisions without hand-holding and have a keen judgement to keep yourself and people on site safe. 

Skills and attributes

  • Strong physically
  • Good hand-eye coordination
  • Not afraid to make decisions
  • Active listening skills
  • Spacial awareness
  • Able to make calculations – such as the load to make sure the equipment can handle it
  • Aware of safety risks

What’s a Rigger Job Salary in Australia?

In Australia, riggers earn a median wage of $66,662 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.

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