How To Become A Rigger
Career Video: Rigger
If you are physically strong, skillful and can work together with members of a team, you can consider a career as a rigger. In this profession, you will have the opportunity to work in the manufacturing, entertainment and the military sectors. You will be putting up or fixing the rigging for construction projects, manufacturing facilities, shipyards, logging yards and in film sets. Depending on the industry where you work in, the responsibilities you assume will be quite different.
If you work in a construction site, you will be moving large loads or putting heavy machines in place. You will be using block and tackle haulers, cranes and other types of equipment for the job. Riggers working in the world of entertainment may be asked to install rigging for film sets for the purpose of any action that the scene needs. This can include making actors fly or moving various objects. In order to do their work, they also use sophisticated equipment. They may even have to travel with the film’s production staff. Those working in the military are called parachute riggers. It is their responsibility to pack and check parachutes, ensuring that it will actually work before it is distributed. Riggers in the military may also help in putting up military installations.
As a rigger, you will be responsible for ensuring that the setup is safe and that all the necessary components of the rig are properly installed. More importantly, you will see to it that everything is secure so that accidents are avoided. For example, you will control the movement of heavy equipment through the use of chainfalls, gallows frames and gin poles when these are transported through very small spaces. You will also be tasked with packing and unpacking and building and rebuilding components so that they can be shipped or stored.
To succeed in this occupation, you will need to possess physical strength and skill. You also need to have an eye for detail, especially if you are working as a parachute rigger where any component that can cause a failure of the parachute to open can kill the one using it. Aside from strength, you should also know how to work with other people since riggers typically work in a team.
Just as a backgrounder, the occupation of riggers actually began when people started to sail. There were sailors who were responsible for building and maintaining the sails called riggers and they were tasked to hold up and control the sails. Setting up these sails developed skills which people could also use on land, giving birth to the job of riggers.
Why Become A Rigger
One reason to become a rigger is that it gives you the chance to work in various industries. You have the opportunity to work in the film industry, the military, in mining and boat building industries. You can work in logging or in building equipment industries. It’s a work that does not require a lot of time in school as you can get training on the job. If you also love to travel, a job as a rigger can give you lots of opportunities to go to new places. Your skill as a rigger can even help people who are in danger or even in the event of a natural disaster.
Rigger Work Environment
Riggers can work in a variety of environments, both in indoor and outdoor settings. The May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the top industries where riggers were employed in included companies that provided support activities for mining, ship and boat building, the federal executive branch, building equipment contractors and other specialty trade contractors. In that year, riggers were mostly found in Louisiana, Texas, California, Washington and Florida.
The work of a rigger may require travel since worksites can be far from their homes. The risk of injuries also exists, especially if the rigger is installing or moving heavy equipment. However, this can be minimized by wearing protective equipment and following safety procedures.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed in its May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report that the mean annual wages of riggers is $44,180. This is higher than the $35,060 received by miscellaneous installation, maintenance and repair workers. The agency reported in May 2012 that the top-paying industries for this occupation were the electric power, generation, transmission and distribution companies which paid a mean annual wage of $73,180; machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers which paid $66,650; commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance which paid $64,310; and the motion picture and video industries which paid riggers $62,920.
Rigger Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has not given the overall job outlook for riggers but according to estimates from the online platform Recruiter.com, rigger vacancies nationwide have gone up by 9.46 percent since 2004. On the average, the growth of riggers is 1.58 percent annually. However, the demand for riggers is projected to decrease by 0.15 percent annually in the next few years. At this rate, the data showed that by 2018, there will be 160 jobs that will be shed.
There is no formal educational requirement to become a rigger but there are many avenues to gain entry to the profession. One of these is through on-the-job training (OJT) which allows neophyte riggers to learn on the job. Under the guidance of more experienced riggers, a fresh rigger works and learns in real projects. This is a very informal method of becoming a rigger.
Some aspiring riggers also opt to enroll in an apprenticeship program. Apprentices are also taught on the job but the learning structure is more formal and organized unlike that of an on-the-job training. Some employers opt to provide outsourced training for riggers through trade organizations and external firms. A person who has a degree or certificate, has been trained and is experienced in rigging and can solve problems that have to do with rigging loads can work as a rigger.