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At a Glance

  • Use ropes and pulleys to move large or heavy items
  • Often work for oil and gas companies
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • Sometimes wear safety gear, such as hard hats and gloves
  • Most train on the job

Career summary

Riggers use ropes, pulleys, and other gear to move large or heavy items.

#No alternate titles CJ

When pulleys, ropes, and other gear are set up properly, riggers can lift heavy items without using much force.

Riggers examine loads to determine what type of gear to use. In some buildings, riggers attach pulleys to overhead beams.

Riggers assemble and install the rigging, hoists, and pulling gear. They attach pulleys to overhead beams and thread ropes through them. They may create slings to move items. They test the rigging to make sure it is set up correctly and is safe. They attach the load to the rigging and lift the load a small amount so it can be leveled.

Riggers give commands or signals to the workers who lift the loads. They tell workers how quickly to move loads and the direction loads should go.

Riggers take apart and store the rigging equipment after items are moved. They repair items that are worn or broken.

Related careers

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to riggers.

Common work activities

Riggers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, riggers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Riggers frequently:

It is important for riggers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for riggers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Riggers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study to consider


To work as a rigger, you typically need to:

Education after high school

No formal education is required beyond high school.

On-the-job training

Riggers learn their skills on the job from an experienced rigger. During training, you start with simple tasks, such as setting up equipment and hoisting loads. As you get more experience, you learn to design systems for hoisting loads. Training generally lasts up to one year.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to work as cargo specialists. Training lasts two to six weeks. Further training occurs on the job.

Washington apprenticeships

Riggers in government shipyards learn their skills on the job or through a four-year apprenticeship. Apprenticeship applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent equivalent, and pass a physical examination. Employers look for team oriented employees who are eager to learn and are dependable.

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#4/16/08 lh. Checked 4/2/09 & 4/30/13, 3/30/15 cj. Didn't see any current listings so left description as is; contact info still same, 1/23/17, 3/18/19 cj.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate. You should consider taking Algebra and Geometry as your math courses and Physics as one of your science courses.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require riggers to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers require work experience in construction or other related areas.

Employers look for applicants who are physically able to do the job.

Costs to workers

Many riggers belong to a union and must pay an initiation fee and dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Riggers (SOC 49-9096)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $18.56 $23.08 $27.24 $33.23 $36.61
Monthly $3,216 $4,000 $4,721 $5,759 $6,345
Yearly $38,610 $48,020 $56,670 $69,120 $76,160
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $22.21 $24.32 $27.89 $33.70 $37.08
Monthly $3,849 $4,215 $4,833 $5,840 $6,426
Yearly $46,207 $50,590 $58,009 $70,095 $77,132
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $24.14 $27.71 $32.31 $36.33 $38.88
Monthly $4,183 $4,802 $5,599 $6,296 $6,738
Yearly $50,204 $57,646 $67,203 $75,569 $80,861
    Vancouver Hourly $21.11 $26.16 $33.93 $47.19 $49.83
Monthly $3,658 $4,534 $5,880 $8,178 $8,636
Yearly $43,898 $54,426 $70,575 $98,154 $103,653
United States Hourly $14.42 $17.99 $24.22 $29.72 $36.50
Monthly $2,499 $3,118 $4,197 $5,150 $6,325
Yearly $29,990 $37,420 $50,370 $61,810 $75,930

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The rigger's level of skill, experience, and responsibility also affect wages. In general, riggers who belong to a union earn higher wages.

Riggers who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Riggers (SOC 49-9096)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 978 -1.1% 16.1% 91
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 676 1.3% 11.9% 68
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 15 13.3% 15.2% 2
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 19 0.0% 14.1% 2
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 78 -11.5% 14.6% 5
    King County 77 -10.4% 19.6% 5
    Pierce County 17 -29.4% 15.2% 0
    Snohomish County 39 -2.6% 12.4% 4
United States 22,100 5.4% 5.2% 2,300

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing steadily. However, it is a very small occupation and few jobs will be created. Some industries such as construction are growing quickly creating more demand for riggers. Other industries such as manufacturing are growing very slowly.

Most openings will occur as a result of people leaving this line of work.

Other resources

Shipbuilders Council of America (external link)
20 F Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20001


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster