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What do you do for a living? iStock_000002414906XSmall.jpg

I’m the operations manager for a tower company, a company that builds broadcasts and communications towers, but I got my start climbing up and down them.

How would you describe what you do?

We do everything that’s involved with building and maintaining a tower.

What does your work entail as a tower climber?

We build the towers, we take them down, we put the lights on them, we change the lights, we paint them, we scrape them, we run the antennas and lines.

When you go up a tower and you’re climbing 400 feet, you’re not coming down to get a cup of coffee, you’re not coming down to warm your hands, you’re not coming down for a lunch break. When you go up the tower you’re going to be there all day, it’s kind of like being like a mountain climber.

One of the more interesting things for most tower climbers is when they do a really high re-lamp, because most of them they’re are at night, and the broadcast towers could be 1,000 or 1,500-foot tall. They take the station off the air at one or two a.m. and you’re climbing in the wee hours of the morning changing the bulbs.
That would be one of the more interesting things, the view is really good. Other than that it’s a lot of hanging lines and putting nuts and bolts through holes and running cable. A lot of tower crews are on the road all the time, where they just go from one job to the other, always on a per diem and having to get lodging, never really putting down roots. We’re fortunate in our company here that we do most of our work centrally located, but there’s still a lot of time on the road, a lot of times it’s hotels and work, hotels and work.

How did you get started?

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I got started because I had relatives who owned a company. I had been in restaurant management for twenty years and I’d had enough of that. I thought it would be really exciting to get out and do something where you’d be physically challenged all the time and your decisions have more of an impact than whether the salad dressing’s correct. It takes a certain kind of person to really enjoy this though. You have to want to do it. If you’re just looking for a job, this isn’t for you.

What do you like about being a tower climber?

I like almost everything except for the winter time. You maintain a pretty high level of physical fitness, though you don’t end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. You’re not cut and all that, but you’re dragging yourself up and down towers every day, so you do have a certain level of physical fitness. Secondly, you’re outside all the time. So if you like being outside that’s a big plus. Also, it’s usually small crews and you’re kind of out in the boondocks, so you have to be a problem-solver, and every situation is a little bit different, things never fit the way the blue prints show, so sometimes were called to do some reengineering to make things work. When I was climbing with we had a great bunch of guys that traveled together, and it was a team effort. Everybody pulled on the same rope.

One of the more interesting things for most tower climbers is when they do a really high re-lamp, because most of them are at night, and the broadcast towers could be 1,000 or 1,500-foot tall. They take the station off the air at one or two a.m. and you’re climbing in the wee hours of the morning changing the bulbs…the view is really good.

If you weren’t getting after it, someone else was. There was a credo where you wouldn’t leave a guy on the tower. If you did your portion of the work and were done with it, you wouldn’t scamper down and let the other guy finish it. Everybody came off together, everybody went up together. That was a lot of fun then. People related what we did to the last cowboys, because we were always traveling and always out and about. So it can be a lot of fun.

What do you dislike?

I would dread the cold weather. Being up on a tower in the cold and knowing the night before that it was going to be 20 degrees the next day, and there’s still no way you’re out of it, the only way through it was to finish it, and you know you’re going to be up there for eight or nine hours. The cold is the thing that I like the least. I think almost every tower guy will tell you that. If you go up a tower and you’re climbing 400 feet, you’re not coming down to get a cup of coffee, you’re not coming down to warm your hands, you’re not coming down for a lunch break. When you go up the tower you’re going to be there all day, it’s kind of like being like a mountain climber.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

We’re hourly employees and depending on what level of climber you are; whether you’re a beginner or an elite climber, or if you’re taking crews, your pay varies.

How much money do you make?

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Depending upon how much you work and what company you’re with the pay can range from $32,000 to $50,000 per year. They don’t make as much as you’d think. When I first started I thought, “I know these guys are making $50 an hour,” but it’s not true.

What education or skills are needed to be a tower climber?

It goes without saying that when you’re going up a tower and you’re at any height at all you’re going to need great balance. You have to be focused to be successful as a tower climber. If you’re scatterbrained or if you don’t plan well, and you’re not paying attention, you could have accidents.

It’s really not a dangerous job if you follow the rules and pay attention. There’s a lot of fatalities in the industry and it’s due to the fact that people don’t follow the rules or they’re not careful. I’d rather be on a tower than climbing a tree or on a roof. It really doesn’t have to be dangerous if you pay attention…

have to be focused because not only are you responsible for yourself, but you’re responsible for everybody that’s on the tower with you. If you drop things from any height, it could be very dangerous. As far as the skills that you need to develop, it could be as basic as sticking a big bolt through a big hole. Or it can be as complicated as learning some kind of test equipment and working with radio frequencies. There’s a wide gamut, so there’s room for everybody. At the beginning stages, if you can climb up a tower and be safe and follow instructions and follow the safety procedures, and put a bolt in a hole when someone tells you to, you can start. Then from there, as you gather more skills, you can take it to a higher level. Other than that, I think just stick-to-itiveness. You are going to get in that situation where it’s 2:00 in the morning and the dispatcher’s calling saying “It’s not working,” and it’s 20 degrees, and you just feel like crying and going home, so we look for guys that can just stick it out. The applicants that we look for must have a background in outside construction only because it takes a certain ruggedness to be outside and to manhandle that stuff. Anyone that really decides to, though, could give it a go.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Just the cold. Usually the physical aspect of climbing if you’re doing it every day isn’t a big deal. At the very beginning though, you’re using a whole different set of muscles, and so the first few weeks are challenging just because you’re tying to keep up with the guys that have been doing it for a while. But that’s probably not the most challenging. The most challenging for me is always the cold.

What is most rewarding?

It’s going to sound weird but when you’re working with a small crew you develop a good sense of camaraderie. And also, when you’re out there at the beginning of the week and the truck comes with a bunch of steel that gets off-loaded and by the end of the week, there’s a 400-foot tower standing there, there’s a sense of accomplishment. I think that and being outside is most enjoyable. And you feel kind of free because you’re not super supervised. There’s nobody there but your crew, generally. As long as you’re taking care of business and things are going well no one messes with you.

How much time off do you get/take?

In the winter the days get a lot shorter and you can’t be out as much and weather can affect you if you have iced up conditions or thunder storms. Usually, when the weather’s nice, you’re going at it from light to dark, so if you get a chance to get a rain-out day, you take advantage of it. So as far as time off you’re going at it all year as long as the weather’s working with you.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

I think there’s two… one is that we make a ton of money. Because a lot of time you hear truck drivers on the radios as they’re going by saying, “Look, those guys got to either be making $50 an hour or on crack,” and neither one of those are true. And second one is that it’s so dangerous. It’s really not a dangerous job if you follow the rules and pay attention. There’s a lot of fatalities in the industry and it’s due to the fact that people don’t follow the rules or they’re not careful. I’d rather be on a tower than climbing a tree or on a roof. It really doesn’t have to be dangerous if you pay attention, and if your company follows the rules.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

Probably one thing that I’m always amazed by is that when you’re selling a job or you’re talking to a customer and they call you at 3 in the morning for an emergency and they’re kind of shocked that it’s expensive. I’m surprised that people don’t expect that it’s going to be expensive to get a tower crew to come out and do some emergency dispatch on Christmas Eve. People pay $50 just to have the plumber stop by, why wouldn’t they expect it to be expensive to have a crew come out and climb a tower in the middle of the night?

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

gary July 14, 2015 at 8:21 am

My name is gary Huddleston I’ve been climbing on and off for 3 years I am a good climber and hard worker I need a company in Oklahoma that I can be near my family I have 2 daughters and a wife I need to work and I’m the guy that gets it done

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james edwards March 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

My name is James. Im a 20 year old male and looking for an entry into the field. I live in Tennessee but that will not prevent me from moving towards work. I have worked hardscaping, roofing, and concrete construction in the past. Any information as to how I can find a job in this field would be appreciated.

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Nicholas wert July 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Look up wireless estimator.com it’s a tower climbers web site they post help wanted allday every day I’ve been in the industry four years now

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Erik December 18, 2014 at 1:04 am

I’ve been a tower climber for a couple years but now thinking bbigger how would I start my own four man crew working straight for a carrier I’m 23 give me som knowledge on the business aspects I can do the work all day for every Carrie no problem just want to get my ffeet in the door on my own company

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ian shatswell October 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm

My name is Ian, i have no experience climbing towers as far as these jobs are concerned but i am a jump master instructor im the army and hang out of airplanes, jump and have climbed our 250ft towers while not being attached many times, so the heights are def no big deal, but getting out of the army soon and moving to MS where my wife is from and wanting to possibly get into it, anyone have an info that would help me get started?

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Rolan Wade February 4, 2015 at 11:37 pm

What part of Ms? I’m a climber an former army grunt, there are several companies on the coast. The company I work for love military guys. I am crew lead an several of my guys where Army also my field manager and my project manager are military. Rwade@tlwallace.com send me a email if your still thinking about it

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Shelley September 9, 2014 at 4:26 am

My brother and my son are climbers. It’s been difficult for them to find companies to work for. They have their own crew and hooked up with Global Technologies. They NEVER got paid. Not one dime! They worked several towers in various parts of the country. The owner of the company cannot be found! If anyone knows where to find this guy, please let me know! The crew members are hiring attorneys and putting liens on towers to try to get their earned wages.

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Rosemarie Gomez August 22, 2014 at 11:49 am

Hi my name is Rosemarie. As you can tell I’m a female. Its hard for anyone to work along side a woman. I’m one like no other. I have a drive that lets me do anything I set my mind to. I have researched and acknowledge what it takes or what a company is looking for in a tower climber. For one my intelligence and organizational skill at a genius level. I’m physically fit and can do more than what the average guy can do or handle. I was built for this. I’ve done construction, I take my job seriously . I want a start in this industry, I’m willing to learn and easy to train. Fast learner and safety is the biggest issue for me. If you can help me get started or point me in the right direction please help. I would greatly appreciate you. Thankyou. My email is gomezrosemarie450@gmail.com

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Kevin August 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hello, I am trying to get into tower climbing i have a 2 year degree in networking, worked at a telecommunications company for 10 years, (moved my way up into the office) but i only have certs for man lifts 120ft or less iv done jobs on top of sky scrapers installing cameras and small antenas but never any tower work, if feel that tower work is where my heart lays. eveytime i pass you guys my heart sinks cause im not up there. have good balance and climb everything. but i do not have a climbing cert. is there any pointers for getting in as a newbe at any of these places iv tried and they all seem to be looking for experinced climbers, i dont have experience climbing but lots in the field of coax cat5 cat6 running cables and in the IDF and computer rooms. does anyone know of a company that will hire new guys to the field thanks

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Zack Helton April 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Kevin,

This is how I got into this industry…I got on google and looked tower companies and called the listings. Look up “tower companies, telecommunications companies, cell phone tower companies”. Or you can try and call the different carriers and see if they can tell you which tower companies they use.

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Anthony May 26, 2014 at 9:17 am

Our company is looking to hire experienced foreman and tower hands. If you have what it takes to be in the industry please send a email back with your experience and resume.

We work all over Northern California and requires to stay out of town some nights.

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Josh May 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm

There are few jobs with such terror, adrenaline, and calm thought than being a tower climber. Many people in fact do not actually know what it is, but as soon as they find out about it they are often desperate to join! But being a tower climber in 2014 means much more than just climbing up and down all day long…

http://www.towerdawg.com/being-a-tower-climber-in-2014/

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Jason Lounello April 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Looks to be an older thread I hope there are still some people lookin at it. I’m very interested in a career change and have been intrigued with Tower Techs for awhile. How do I get started. I have construction experience and a knack for balance and heights. I live in northern Colorado any one have pointers/leads?

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Eugene Venter February 12, 2014 at 11:21 am

Hi my name is eugene I am trying to find out how to get into this business I have never done it before but I love out doors and I love the sky. I see those guys up there and I want to do it to I am determined to get the experience. I have a passion for it you could say.

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Chris March 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Check out PEAK Career Services. I saw some jobs posted on their facebook page recently: https://www.facebook.com/PeakPCI

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jeremy jones December 27, 2013 at 1:42 am

My name is Jeremy im thirty years old. I’m a veteran former Navy seabee equipment operator. Just to be honest i really know nothing about tower climbers other than what I’ve researched on the computer. It’s time for me to make a change in life and do something i live in north ga and in going nowhere fast. If anyone could possibly help me out with any advice on how i may be able to pursue a career as a climber i would appreciate it thanks.

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Chuck February 21, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Jeremy,
message me at wirelessiversen(AT)gmail (dot)com.
I know a couple folk in that area.

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Tomas December 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

How many years , hours, salary, what major , etc,.

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Josh November 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I was work for a company(Cell Tower Tech Pro Inc.) through a temp agency for a couple of days. Not sure if that is the name, but I really thought I could do it, but the company said they do not need me anymore, want somebody that has more experience. How do I get experience, I would love to learn and get experience in doing it. Make a career out of it.
Thanks,
Josh Prescot

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Moises Palau November 17, 2013 at 2:15 am

I’m looking to find a career in the tower hand business. I don’t have experience, but I’m willing to train as much that is needed, and will learn all that is needed. I just need a chance. Can anyone help someone who wants to stsrt a new career? My email address is moe2321@yahoo.com.. Thanks..

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Andy Rivera October 24, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Have researched this industry for two years now. Its something I really want to do. But having a hard time finding a company that will hire entry level with no climbing experience. I’m located in Bayonne New Jersey. If anyone could help me out or give me a chance. I’m willing to start from the ground up..literally. My dream is to climd towers, grow with a company and earn my keeps. 10 year Army guard Infantry vet. Hard working and dependable. All I need is a chance. You won’t be disappointed. Thank you.

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tom holden December 13, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Are you eligible for VA benefits? I just finished a 6 week course “Airstreams Renewables” that prepares you for entry level climbing positions. ABout half the guys in my 20 person class had jobs lined up before the class was over. It’s legit. Located in Tehachapi Ca. Good Luck.. tom

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Wood April 26, 2014 at 12:15 am

Message me for details, the company I am with will hire you with no experience since you are prior military, if you are still looking.

My email is jwpromoting@gmail.com

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Bravo Wireless Services, LLC September 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Hiring Tower Techs to work in PA/OH.
We have lots of Decom and LTE work.
This is a direct hire.
For more info get in contact with us.
admin@bravowirelessllc.com
917-510-7721 call or text.

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Claire G. Christison September 18, 2013 at 7:00 am

It is always wonderful to have someone come through my doors with Tower Experience; however, that is not always the case. We are looking or those with experience OR those that are willing to learn, always operate in a safe manner with a strong work ethic. If you’re looking to get into this field OR interested in working for an ethical, employee focused, Veteran Owned Business – please connect with me at cchristison@owbs.net.

Wishing you all an exceptional day!

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Michael September 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Hi.
My resume is pretty crazy. I have had many seemingly unrelated jobs and interests over the last twenty or so years, but I guess I see life as an opportunity for personal enrichment, and so I have no hangups about trying something new if I’m interested in it. A couple of years ago I watched a video of two guys climbing a tower to do a repair… I remember it got me to thinking that it had been a while since I’d done anything that was interesting and a little adventurous too. I’ve researched this job once or twice since then (I too admit to thinking it must pay extremely well!); lately I’ve wondered what it would be like to really do this. I live in north Mississippi and there seems to be as much of this kind of work here as anywhere else (who can live without telecommunication technology anymore?). So who does one contact to see about applying for a job like this? Some of the work I specialize in is very isolating (oil painting, vintage guitar and hi-fi audio repair), but I have excelled in many high stress crew type situations too, and enjoyed working with a tight group of guys that I could trust. The person being interviewed alluded to this work as being like a cowboy… I get it, and I miss that feeling of being on some sort of frontier.

If anyone wants to contact me on this subject my name is Mike and my email is kaporsum@ms.metrocast.net

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Levar Mcrae September 8, 2013 at 7:58 am

Hi.I am 34 years old looking to start a career in tower erection.I have done construction work, and have my osha certificate. I live in NY and was wondering if anyone had some advice. Do I need to find climber training?I applied for a company that offered on-the-job training but they weren’t hiring right now. Lost and don’t know which way to go. Please help.

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Claire G. Christison September 18, 2013 at 7:02 am

Levar,

Please get in touch with me via email at cchristison@owbs.net.

Thank you!

Claire G. Christison,
Director of Recruitment & Human Resources
One Way Building Services, Inc.
6811 Washington Avenue South
Edina, MN 55439
http://owbs.net

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Ryan Plummer September 5, 2013 at 3:40 am

Hello everyone. I am a 33 year-old looking for an opportunity to break into network infrastructure/tower climbing. I have worked many technical jobs ranging from construction and A/V systems installation but have been working in architecture in Chicago for the past several years creating full construction documents with a focus on MEP systems design. I am in great shape and a very hard worker and have always been very mechanically inclined and enjoy working on new types of systems, from infrastructure to programming. I am at a point in my life where I can pick up and move to a new location quickly and easily. I have no experience as a climber, but I am a very fast learner and willing to do whatever is necessary to meet my goal. I understand the need for safety though am not easily deterred by harsh weather conditions or other obstacles. I just recently spoke with a company in WA state about an entry-level position they are considering me for. My question to anyone that can help is this…should I enroll in a climbing certification course on my own, before looking for additional employment or do some companies train new hires and help them attain the necessary certification? Any information some of you with experience jumping into this line of work could provide would be truly appreciated. My brother is a firefighter and works as a climbing trainer on his own time. I am hoping to make this career change very soon, so I am looking forward to all advice available. Thank you and good luck to everyone. ryan.d.plummer@gmail.com

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Brittany August 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

Tower Tech
Exciting opportunity for Tower Climbers/Hands/Foremen’s
Apeiron INC is looking for Tower climbers/hands/foremen’s to work in multiple markets throughout the US. The work will involve all aspects of tower maintenance, installation and L&A work.
Benefits:
Top pay rates offered
Long term work
W2 employment with overtime
Weekly Pay
Travel provided into market and for rotations; 6 weeks on 1 week off (optional)
1 week training is provided by our client to include: Gravitech, First Aid/CPR, RF Safety etc..
$100 a day per-diem
Required Experience;
• At least 1 year of experience
• Willingness to travel and work on locations for extended periods of time.
• Ability to climb heights in excess of 500 feet.
• Must have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record to be insurable and able to operate a company vehicle.
All candidates must be able to pass to following to be considered for job placement:
• Pre-employment Drug Screening (10 panel)
• Pre-employment MVR (3 year)
• Criminal Background Check (7 year)
Please send resumes in Word format to: brittany.huffman@apeironinc.com

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Danny Flynn May 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

looking for tower hands and foremen in the Chicago market.
Working on T-Mobile,AT&T,Sprint and Verizon.
Full time pulse overtime
Union wages and bennies
Please call me at 847-525-9573

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Stephanie W. April 16, 2013 at 9:46 am

I am currently hiring hands, top hands, & foremen in several different markets. Must have basic training & certifications. Must be willing to travel. Please send your resume to careers@tuckertech.com for consideration! Thanks.

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Joseph McGough March 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I’m debating whether or not to tower climb or tree climb. Over all I enjoy the climbing.

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Mike February 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm

My name is mike and I want to get into this field but I don’t know where to begin ? If anyone can help me out it would be greatly appreciated thank you.

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frank April 2, 2013 at 7:22 am

Hello,Mike Im Frank also looking to get in the field.have you had any luck getting a reply from anyone that could help people like you and I?if so please drop me a email or call 3152697413 thanks for your time.

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Claire G. Christison September 18, 2013 at 7:07 am

Mike & Frank,

Everything starts with an inquiry, which both of you have done here. If you are still interested, plase get in touch with me via email at cchristison@owbs.net.

Thank you!

Claire G. Christison,
Director of Recruitment & Human Resources
One Way Building Services, Inc.
6811 Washington Avenue South
Edina, MN 55439
http://owbs.net

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eduard ahlfeldt February 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

I work for weir minerals at the time. Whant to do something els for achange like building towers. Something with abetter salery in the norhterncape area . My cel no 0718700017 please let me know

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robomont December 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm

the most outlandish ,badass tower company in america is tms in longview texas.the owner is kyle hampton.
in one phone call,he can gather more tower experience than any company in america.
not only that ,he builds the big ,dangerous,almost cant be done jobs.
the company just built the new tower on mount whittington ,five other major contractors turned it down.
they also built the tower that is on the tower certification card.plus other similar towers.
tms also built most of the skycoasters and are currently rebuilding one in kissimmee florida right now.
ive personally worked for them part time for twenty five years.
i have worked for over twenty tower companies and tms is the best.

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Brandon August 29, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I have really been looking into this and was wondering could I get an entry level position climbing I’ve had construction jobs on block crews /masonry) but any input would be greatly appreciated

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tim langford May 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

This was a true tower hand i could not have answered question better I’v been a tower hand/top push/formen for along time great interview dose any one no the name of the guy being interviewed thanks

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Justin Pease March 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

My name is Justin and I am a Casting Associate for a Major-TV Network based out of Los Angeles, California. I was checking out this site about Tower Climbers and was hoping maybe some of you could be of some assistance…

The production company that I work for is currently looking for “Tower Dawgs” in the United States. Now, this would be for a TV show, so we are definitely looking for some characters/interesting individuals, and/or companies that specialize in some unique jobs, or rather, something that sets their company apart. Big accents are also always a plus!

If you happen to have any recommendations I would REALLY appreciate it. We are contacting some companies just by looking them up on various websites, so if you aren’t comfortable with sharing companies info, you can e-mail me privately and we have no problem telling them we just stumbled upon them while searching online.

We know what you guys go through and we want America to see for themselves just how hard your job is! Even if you don’t have any that come to mind, it would be great if you could help spread the word. Therefore, if a company or individual may be interested and think they have what it takes, they can contact us directly.

Thank you so much for your time and support!

Justin Pease
justin.pease@cherisundae.com

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saleem ullah March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm

i am tower rigger and can also working in foundations — i can climb up to 150 meter

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bill January 19, 2012 at 2:12 am

Nice interview. I have a fear of heights but after 100ft or so, lose it and focus on work at hand.Thanks for the Q&A.

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Ron White August 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

I USED TO WORK IN OCALA,FL.FOR CSSI …GREAT TIME BACK THEN WE WENT AND DID TOWERS IN FL,GA,SC,BUT THE BEST WAS IN BOLOXI,MISS..YUP HAD TO CK OUT CASINOS WHILE WE WERE THERE..
KINDA MISS IT …EVERY TIME I LOOK AT A TOWER I LAUGH A LIL BIT….

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Jim June 7, 2011 at 9:11 am

I plan on starting with a company as a tower climber next year. A friend of mine who works there said he can get me in. Previously I had worked off of scaffolding anywhere from 6′ to 60′ in the air without any harness or fall protection equipment. So to me what I did before was more risky than what I plan to do. At least I’ll have a harness. But hell cooking bacon can be dangerous if you’re stupid. lol

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narch January 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

How can a job that has lots of fatalities not be dangerous?

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john wayne May 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Most of the fatalities were from “free climbing”. Where you don’t where a harness or don’t use your safety latches.

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