Toni Cartwright crane operator who left career as a gymnast


I ran away with the circus then at 19 got a ‘real job’: Here’s how I used my gymnast skills to land a six-figure salary as a crane operator

  •  Toni Cartwright is a tower crane operator in Brisbane
  •  She used to be a gymnast in the circus before ‘falling into’ construction

A gymnast who once dreamed of running away with the circus has revealed how she turned her love for extreme acrobatics into a 6-figure career as a crane operator.

Toni Cartwright was 16 and working as a performer for years when she felt her love for gymnastics fading.

By 19 the Brisbane local realised she was going to have to ‘find a real adult job’ she  told FEMAIL, she had been exposed to some rigging in her circus years so decided to chase real-world certifications.

That’s when the now 29-year-old’s life was ‘thrown on its head. She explained she just followed the opportunities as they came and secured a job in construction.

Once she had her foot in the door Toni decided to get a few more tickets which allowed her to drive heavy machines like forklifts and cranes.

Toni Cartwright used to work as an aerial gymnast - now she operates cranes from her tiny glass office in the sky

Toni Cartwright used to work as an aerial gymnast – now she operates cranes from her tiny glass office in the sky 

That’s when she set her sights on operating tower cranes, huge machines which can lift building materials 45metres above building sites.

The cranes are difficult to operate because they are so big, but Toni proved she wasn’t afraid of heights or the challenge.

Once she got her qualifications things got difficult – she couldn’t find anyone to hire her for the job and even considered quitting construction for a career in the army.

But then she got a call back.

A site boss who wanted a crane operator who wouldn’t try to take control of the whole building operation.

‘The builder was sick and tired of grumpy old men and wanted to try change up the toxic work environment that a job site can be,’ she said.

Toni hadn’t any experience in running sites – so was the perfect match – and managed to prove herself as a seamless operator in her two-week trial. 

Toni's career trajectory wasn't planned - but she wouldn't change her job

Toni’s career trajectory wasn’t planned – but she wouldn’t change her job 

She’s been working from her ‘little glass office in the sky’, earning a six-figure salary, for seven years now and wouldn’t change a thing.

‘My position as tower crane operator is such a respected role on site due to the high risk and skill required,’ she said.

Toni said she’s often asked if she has had to work harder to get where she is -as construction is a male dominated industry.

‘I would be lying if I said that it has all been smooth sailing, but I have earned the respect that I now receive. I don’t think that this feat is particularly different for a male or female. We all have to start somewhere and prove our worth,’ she said. 

Toni posts about her work online – and shares her own building journey with her partner Jimmy, who is a chippy.

The young woman recently shared a video showing off her 7th ‘completed’ high rise.

In a video days before the young woman clutched a coffee at sunrise – and noted it was a six day working week on the site.

She makes a good 6-figure income and loves operating on site - she has worked on seven completed skyrise buildings in Brisbane

She makes a good 6-figure income and loves operating on site – she has worked on seven completed skyrise buildings in Brisbane 

While others show men in fluro vests working below her as she drags materials through the sky.

‘After 10 years in the chair everything kinda just all looks the same from up here,’ she laughed.

She also made a viral post about the best and worst parts of her job.

In the video she explains she loves the ability to climb down from the crane at the end of the day and not have to think about work again until she clocks back on.

The worst thing about her job, she said, is the glare. 





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