How do I Become a Flagger?

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  • Written By: Hillary Flynn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 April 2017
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A flagger, also referred to as a traffic controller, is a construction worker or government worker whose function is to maintain safety in roadway work zones by directing and controlling the flow of traffic around construction areas. Requirements to become a flagger vary by location, but most states and countries require some form of training and certification. Some examples of agencies and programs that set standards for flaggers or traffic controllers are the American Traffic Safety Services Association in the United States, and the Traffic Controller Accreditation Scheme utilized by the Department of Transport in Queensland, Australia.

Flaggers and traffic controllers may utilize flags, cones, barrels, barriers, or electronic warning signs to control traffic flow. It is necessary to take training classes that teach one how to successfully manage these items if one wishes to become a flagger. The primary goal of the flagger is keep both the construction crew and travelers safe as drivers move through work zones. To learn these and other skills required for certification, training classes are a must. Depending on location, classes may be found at local community colleges, through a state agency, at construction union training facilities, or at private professional training agencies.

The training required to become a flagger will most likely need to be approved by the appropriate agency specific to one's location, so a future flagger must double check the requirements in his or her area. Most training programs are relatively short. Some may last only a few hours, but at minimum, a program should include visual flagging signals, two-way radio usage, signing, and sign setting regulations. Anyone who wants to become a flagger should also be familiar with the proper use of personal protective equipment, state or federal traffic control standards, work zone set up procedures, and the proper way to set up and remove two way traffic control sites.

When training is complete, the next step required to become a flagger is to acquire certification. This is typically given at the end of an accredited training program once a student has demonstrated mastery of the required skills. Other requirements vary by location, but it is common to require a flagger be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's license. Requiring a high school diploma or its equivalent is also standard, as is the ability to communicate well and work in a team environment. Most flagger jobs are acquired through government agencies that oversee roadwork and traffic safety.

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anon993510
Post 4

About 30 years ago I worked as a flagger in California. I flagged and did lane closures on highways. It was a labor union job. I made 25.00 plus benefits an hour. Good pay! But back then it was extremely dangerous doing lane closures. Now they have a machine that sets cones. I use to sit on the tailgate and set cones by hand, 100-plus cones each time. And I'm a woman 5'3", 110 lbs. Great workout! It gets a bit boring flagging. But was well worth it.

jmc88
Post 3

Does anyone know how much someone who works as a flagger would make? Even though most people probably don't think much about it when they are driving, being a flagger is usually one of the most dangerous jobs during road work.

Even though there are always quite a few signs telling drivers to slow down, it is still pretty common to see people speeding through work zones without thinking about the safety of the people working there.

I remember a few years ago there were a couple flaggers that were hit and killed within a few months of each other. I think that is what prompted a lot of states to start making stricter laws about work zone speeds. Even with the new laws, though, it doesn't matter if there is no enforcement.

Emilski
Post 2

I would say that someone who becomes a flagger already has a job with the state or government and just takes the classes so that they can be certified to do the job. Would that be right, or do they really post jobs looking for someone that is a full time flagger?

I don't really know anything about what goes into becoming a flagger. What are the classes like, and what are some of the rules or techniques associated with being a flagger that the normal driver wouldn't realize?

Izzy78
Post 1

I didn't know there was so much background training involved in doing a job like this. I was always under the impression that anyone could be a flagger.

I've never thought about what goes into setting up barrels, cones, and other barricades. Is there a certain system involved in setting them up?

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