UtahYou see this awesome robot-like machine making its way towards a 40-inch carbon steel pipe. A rigger tied a sling around the pipe and insert the other two ends to the hook at the end of the load block. Suddenly, the huge pipe was suspended in the air, and then you began to dream to be a crane operator someday.

But the real question is, “How to become a crane operator?” Some states have their own requirement. In Utah, let’s discuss first the basics and what you need to be an operator in this state.

Basically, a crane operator is the one responsible for the successful operation of the crane, such as lifting and moving pipes and other heavy equipment and materials from one place to another. Before operating a crane, he ensures that it is safe since there is no room for error. Proper maintenance is also among the most crucial things a crane operator does.

Types of Cranes You Can Operate

Although there are different types of crane, an operator usually specialized in one or two. The reason is that each type needs a thorough specialization in order to operate the crane efficiently and with the utmost safety.

Just to give you a basic details about the different types of crane, they are the boom trucks (heavy boom truck, medium boom truck and wellhead boom truck), mobile cranes (either mechanical mobile cranes which are mechanically powered cranes, or hydraulic mobile cranes, that is operate using an internal hydraulic system), and the tower cranes (fixed cranes that are usually installed or mounted on-site, and are ideal to use in all kinds of high-rise building and construction).

What Do You Need to be a Crane Operator

So, have you already made up your mind and really wanted to be a crane operator? Then let’s go deeper on this. First thing first. Obviously, you should be 18 years old and above, with no health issue, mentally and physically fit.

Luckily, you are not required to have a formal education, but you should complete a certain training program, both in theory and actual and this happens by enrolling in the training school.

You must have a little more than basic knowledge about Math since you will be using numbers in calculating the capacity and weight of the load before making any attempt to lift it on a daily basis.

Remember that the nature of this job is physically demanding, so you must maintain a sound mind and a healthy body at all times. You will also be required to take the on-the-job training program in order to determine if you are capable of operating or handling such delicate machinery.

Although different regions have different requirements for a crane operator, being a high school graduate or equivalent is sufficient enough and will allow you to enter a crane operator program. You should complete a crane training program and take certification tests for you to be certified. And throughout your certification period, you will be tested randomly for drugs and related substance abuse, so always make yourself ‘clean’ at all times.
After completing the training program and getting certified as a crane operator, you are now free to apply. But bear in mind that you are still new to this field so it is sound advice that you apply as a crane operator in your locale. Although the salary might be too low in your locality, the fact that you will gain a better understanding and expertise compensate for the low pay.

Key skills to become an efficient crane operator

Now, let’s take a look at the key skills in order for you to become an efficient crane operator.

  1. First and foremost, check your hand-eye-foot coordination. This is crucial to avoid accident.
  2. Second thing is in-depth perception. You should be able to recognize in advance the possible future scenario.
  3. Next is sharpness of vision. This is very important to avoid any collision with existing equipment.
  4. Physical stamina is another important thing since you will be dealing with all kinds of weather conditions.
  5. And of course, your familiarity in the safe operation of your crane.
  6. A very good communication skill is also a must if you want to succeed as a crane operator.

Now, let’s talk about the training and certification to become a certified crane operator

  • You must complete the crane operator training so you can familiarize yourself with the safety and regulation of the equipment, its maintenance and at least, common basic repair. Taking the training program is a preparation for you to pass the certification tests. If you want to enroll in the program, the list of schools is listed below where you can enroll.

  • Certification – To be certified as a crane operator, you must be able to complete and pass the certification tests. There are three (3) testing bodies you can get certified with, namely: the NCCCO, NCCER and OECP. Then NCCCO certification is popular in the industry, though the other two are also accepted and complied with OSHA standard. Getting certified involves passing the written exam and demonstration test.
    You must complete the crane operator training in the school so you can familiarize yourself with the safety and regulation of the equipment, its maintenance and at least, common basic repair and the safe actual operation of course.

Crane Operator Training Schools in Utah

If you’re looking for a school where you can enroll to take the crane training program, here are the schools:

  • International Union of Operating Engineers
    8805 South Sandy Parkway, Sandy, UT 84070
    Phone: 801-664-6934; Fax: 801-328-8113
  • Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3
    6650 W. 6200 S., 84081 West Valley City, Utah
    Call: +1 801-664-6934
  • Paradise Crane Consultants, LLC
    207 S 1070 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84119
    Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • American Equipment Inc.
    451 West 3440 South Salt Lake City, UT 84115
    Phone: 801-269-0896
  • Konecrane Training Institute
    1574 1700 S, Salt Lake City , UT
    PH: 801-746-7233
  • All Purpose Crane Training
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Toll-free at (888)501-1355
  • Utah Safety Council
    1574 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104
    Phone: 801.746.SAFE (7233)
  • H&E Equipment Services, Inc.
    Salt Lake City and St. George
    Call: 866-GO-RENTAL
  • Mountain Crane Service
    393 S Monterey St., Salt Lake City, Utah
    Main Office: (801) 282-3330; Fax: (801) 282-0099; Toll Free: (866) 686-3330

Now Let’s Talk About Being a Crane Operator Apprentice

Being an apprentice is a great way to make a living while learning practical experience. As a matter of fact, this is one of the routes you can take to be a crane operator.

If you would like to be an apprentice, you can apply to the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) near you. See this list of IUOE locals if they have an office in your location. 

In Utah, Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 offers apprenticeship, if you would like to inquire about the openings, call them, see contact info above.

The application involves getting interviewed to make sure that you don’t have a job or an agreement with a contractor yet for the same position. You will also submit additional requirements as part of the application process.
The minimum time you will spend in the apprenticeship program is 8,000 hours depending on your ability to comprehend the various skills and apply them to the duties and tasks.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship program, it’s time for you to be certified. In order for you to get the certification, you must pass a written and practical examination.

Additionally, it is of great advantage if you also have a commercial driver’s license. This will give you the edge over other crane operators since you could be able to drive the trailer that will carry the crane to and from the place of work. Having both a license and certification will give you a steady flow of work.

Salary of Crane Operator in Utah

If you will work in Utah as a crane operator, the average salary you would get is $39,002, but depending on some factors, the salary ranges from $36,702 up to $43,702. These figures are based on the latest January 20, 2020 report of Salary.com. 

Experienced and certified crane operators who are working in large projects tend to receive higher pay. The other factors that come into play affecting the salary are the city or location where you are working, and other applicable skills you can apply to the job.

The experience and skill are gained by working in construction sites. Many operators started as a rigger; this position will give you an on-the-job look of the responsibilities of a crane operator.

The demand for crane operators is expected to grow in the next coming years. As construction of new buildings and the expenditure of the government in infrastructure surges, so as the demand for crane operators.

What Does the Employer Require

Because of the safety factor which every construction companies’ top priority, they are requiring their potential crane operators to undergo rigid training. It’s not just operating this awesome equipment, but also familiarizing hand signals, which plays a very important part in the day to day crane operation. You have to internalize the meaning of each hand signal by your rigger or ground crew. Remember, failure to communicate properly with these hand signals will possibly lead to huge damage and even death. As the crane operator, you should not follow anyone unless it’s your rigger that is giving the hand gesture.

Of course, as a crane operator, you will be working almost all of the time away from your loved ones, sometimes in an offshore location. Noisy surroundings would become a normal thing to you as you gradually become used to the existing environment. Most crane operators work 8 hours a day. There might be some cases in which you will be required to work longer hours than usual. That is because there are critical situations or lifting that needs to be finished soon, since it may compromise the safety of other equipment and especially your co-workers.

Salary varies from state to state, but definitely, you are going to receive better pay than most normal drivers would do. You can ask your locale about the crane operator’s rate per hour.

You might be wondering about the guy giving hand signals to the crane operator. As mentioned above, it is of utmost importance that the crane operator is well-familiarized with hand signals to avoid misunderstanding. A simple mistake could possibly lead to the damage of property, or worse, fatality.

To Make a Conclusion

Now that you have the details on how to become a crane operator, it is time for you to ask yourself if this is the kind of profession that you would certainly want to pursue.

There is no doubt that this kind of job is needed especially in warehouses, construction and manufacturing companies. Aside from the fact that the crane operator’s salary is higher than ordinary tradesmen. You would never run out of employment since this type of job is continuously in demand.