How to Become a
Crane Operator

Man in uniform with a hard hat operating a crane at a construction site

If you are considering becoming a Crane Operator, you first need to find out what requirements are needed to secure this job. In this article, we will provide information about what it takes to become a Crane Operator, how much this position pays and future employment prospects.

What Does a Crane Operator Do?

A Crane Operator operates stationary or traveling tower and cable or mechanical boom and cable equipment to move, lift, transport and reposition loads. Crane Operators work in construction and industrial sites, railways, ports and surface mines.

Crane Operators must be able to operate mechanical equipment to precisely move heavy loads. They need to be able to follow instructions to regulate speed and movement controls to manipulate the objects being moved. Main job tasks of a Crane Operator include:

  • Mechanical skills, such as operating a crane

  • Mathematical skills, such as algebra, arithmetic and geometry

  • Communication skills, such as listening, speaking and following directions

  • Organizational skills, such as keeping track of job orders

Crane Operator Skills

Being a Crane Operator requires soft skills such as communication, attention to detail and the ability to follow instructions. These professionals work under general supervision, and must follow verbal and written instructions precisely to complete their tasks. As well, these individuals must be comfortable working in high places; people affected by acrophobia would not succeed in this career choice. As well, Crane Operators have to work outdoors, sometimes in harsh weather conditions, in noisy and uncomfortable environments.

Other key Crane Operator skills include:

  • Being able to work with your hands

  • Being good with machinery

  • Good communication skills

  • Good depth perception

  • Ability to follow safety procedures

How Do You Become a Crane Operator?

Education and Training

There are no set educational requirements to become a Crane Operator; many job postings required a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some positions did require the completion of a specialized training program offered in community colleges, technical schools and trade unions. There are numerous apprenticeships available through the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), as well as other organizations. As well, most individuals receive on-the-job training once securing employment.

There are certifications available for Crane Operators, which can greatly increase the chances of career advancement. For example, The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offers a variety of certifications for Mobile Crane Operators, Tower Crane Operators, Boom Truck Operator, Overhead Crane Operator, Service Truck Crane Operator, etc. Applicants must pass the written and practical examinations, and must be trained and currently working as Crane Operators to become certified.

Finding a job

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 8 percent growth in demand for Crane Operators with 1,290 new jobs available through 2024 in the United States. The increasing number of retiring Crane Operators as well as the increased spending on infrastructure are the leading causes for job growth.

JobHero can help you write a Crane Operator resume in order to list your qualifications and skills to prospective employers.

Search for Crane Operator job openings throughout the country, as well as reach out to your professional network from school, training and apprenticeships programs with help in finding employment.

JobHero’s cover letter examples can provide a format, which you can use to express your interest in the position and explain what has made you prepared to become a Crane Operator.

Insights from a Crane Operator

If you're serious about pursuing a career as a Crane Operator, you might want to check out what the experts think about this field of work. Find out what professionals have to say about working as a Crane Operator.

What is the common career path for a Crane Operator?

No higher level of education is required to become a Crane Operator. You may be asked for a highschool diploma or similar level of education. Also, most states and cities requiere a license to operate a crane. It is recomended to take a training course, but most Crane Operators learn with hands-on experience and through mentorship at the job.

What should someone consider before becoming a Crane Operator?

A Crane Operator plays an essential roll in many jobsites. Which means you will be in high demand and should be able to tackle different types of crane related tasks. It would be wise to enter the industry with some level of experience. That is why taking a crane operation training is recomended to become more competitive. It is very likely that you will get flexible working hours. Generaly Crane Operators don't have to commit to strict 8 to 5 working schedules.

What type of person excels in this job?

People who are hard working, adaptive and focused, can be excellent Crane Operators. They must also be able to handle the preassure of operating an expensive equipment that could cause great damage or fatal injury.

What are some of the most important skills for Crane Operators to have?

Comfortable working at high altitudes, good hand and sight coordination, the ability to accuratley judge distances, good awareness of your surroundings, excellent concentration, the ability to work in a team, follow instructions and communicate effectively with other team members.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Crane Operator?

It's a well paying job with lots of demand in certain cities like Ontario and Alberta. You can jump straight from highschool and start a career as a Crane Operator. You may find thrill in operating the crane and relocating heavy objects hundreds of feet away. Crane Operators are proud of what they do and are honored to work with skilled people in the construction industry.

How Much Do Crane Operators Get Paid?

Crane Operators made an average of $24.83 per hour in the U.S. The lowest paid Crane Operators earn $15.10 per hour; while the highest paid make $39.79 hourly.

Top 10 States for Crane Operators Salary

    Hawaii

    $86,230

    Alaska

    $81,000

    Washington

    $72,310

    Nevada

    $70,040

    New Jersey

    $69,860

    Oregon

    $69,560

    Connecticut

    $65,120

    California

    $63,280

    Virginia

    $60,990

    Massachusetts

    $59,670

    Crane Operator Resources

    For more information about becoming or working as a Crane Operator, follow these sources.

    On the Web

    National Commission For The Certification of Crane Operators
    Nonprofit organization formed in 1995 with a mission to develop effective performance standards for safe crane operation.

    Crane Institution Certification
    Provides OSHA recognized, NCCA accredited crane operator certifications.

    Industry Groups

    Association of Crane & Rigging Professionals
    Non-profit association whose mission is dedicated to improving crane operations and rigging activities in all industries.

    Coalition for Crane Operator Safety
    Membership includes labor, management, equipment manufacturing, insurance underwriters and accredited certification organizations.

    Books

    Crane Safety Handbook: For Operators and Ground Crew - 2nd Edition
    Comprehensive jobsite reference for anyone working with cranes.

    Mobile Crane Manual
    Authoritative, up-to-date reference material for the construction industry.

    The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.