Tough Jobs: Tower Crane Operator

Tough Jobs: Tower Crane Operator

You thought your job was hard? Imagine having this one.

Joe Mondloch’s workplace hinges on where his employer deploys him, confined high in the air like a bat in a cage.

Navigating a crane while mounted anywhere from 150 feet to over 800 feet above ground can be a tricky business. Depending on the construction workers on the ground is an essential aspect of his work.

“In a way, it’s impossible to do this job without the people on the ground floor,” Mondloch, 54, says. “They’re your eyes.”

Currently, Mondloch is maneuvering tower cranes at the Ryan Cos.’ project in Minneapolis’ Downtown East district.

Reaching the heights of his windowed cab high in the sky requires a careful ladder climb. Where it sits is completely dependent upon the project, just like the pay rate.

“It’s about $35 an hour at the lowest height. Once you go past 250 feet, it goes up a penny a foot,” he says.

Short days are 9 hours; otherwise it’s 16 hours perched aloft.

“You get used to it as you go, but at first it’s pretty humbling being up so high.” —Sam Schaust