Being a crane operator is one of the sought-after occupations. In just a short span of time to spend on the training, you could find yourself working as a crane operator.
It is one of the best occupations to improve your income, the reason is that contractors and companies look for qualified operators and are willing to pay them competitive salaries.
If you are in Illinois and you want to be a crane operator, you only need one thing: a certification. While experience plays a vital role as well in getting a job.
Cranes are widely used in construction and in many areas as well, so expect crane operators are in demand as well.
If you made a final decision that this career is the one you want to pursue, we prepared this guide on how to become a crane operator in the state of Illinois to help begin the journey.
How to Become a Crane Operator
- These are prerequisites to be a crane operator. The basic requirements are simple: you need to be 18 years old and above, you should have a high school diploma or a GED certificate as an alternative, and you should have a great body condition and must be physically fit for the job.
- Choose what kind of crane you want to operate. Cranes have different kinds and models depending on the need for the job and there are certifications for each crane you want to operate. For you to get certified you need to attend a training program for the type of crane you will operate. Getting certified is very important, employers prefer to hire those candidates with such a certification.
- Complete a crane operator training course. In order to boost your chance of passing the certification tests, you might want to think to go through a program offered by a training school, please see below for the list of schools. A crane operator training program usually lasts for several weeks depending on the course curriculum.
- You need to pass the certification exams. The certification tests have 2 parts: one is written and the other is the practical demonstration. To achieve the certification, you should pass the 2 exams, therefore, completing the training program will certainly help you prepare for the exams and will increase your chance of passing them. See below how to become NCCCO certified.
- If you will be working in Chicago, you need a license as well. Please see below how to apply for the Chicago Crane License.
Crane Operator Training Schools in Illinois
If you want to be a skillful crane operator and increase your chance of passing the certification exams, you need to complete a training program, these programs are offered by a training school. If you are looking for a school in Illinois, here are what you can find:
- All-Purpose Crane Training
Bloomington, Springfield, Peoria
Phone: (888) 501-1355; email:
- Total Equipment Training
- Crane Service Industries
It Covers Chicago, IL and the surrounding area
Phone: (661) 324-2278
- Nationwide Crane Training
877-NCT-CRANE or 877-628-2726
Provides onsite training
- Illinois Crane
1621 West Chanute Rd., Peoria, IL 61615
(800) 642 – 7478
- Industrial Training International
9925 Industrial Drive, Bridgeview, Illinois 60455
Phone: 800.727.6355; Fax 360.225.1122; email:
- International Union Of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150
Headquarters/District 1 Hall: 6200 Joliet Road, Countryside, Illinois, 60525
Phone: 708-482-8800, Fax: 708-482-7186
District 2 Hall: 1050 N. I-55 E. Frontage Road, Joliet, Illinois 60431
Phone: 815-725-5561, Fax: 815-725-2042
How to Choose the Right Crane Operator School
- A school that offers employment assistance should be considered. The school can definitely give you the practical help needed to land a job. If you are choosing a school, find the one that provides such assistance.
- Choose a school that has provides extensive hands-on training. This works best for beginners because this provides practical experience and skills needed for passing the certification exams.
- Find a small class size. It leads to more one-on-one attention from the instructor thus students are able to absorb the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed for the job.
- Choose a school with modern training facilities and equipment. To make sure you are selecting the school that will benefit you a lot, visit and observe the premises or training ground first and check if they have the modern facilities and equipment.
- Find a school that follows the NCCCO certification curriculum. An NCCCO certificate is a must-have certification in the industry, why because prospective employers ask for this certification before hiring someone. When you are about to enroll in a course check if the curriculum is aligned with NCCCO standards, this will prepare you to succeed on the certification exams.
- Choose the Crane operating school with the best track record and with the best employment rate. It will be a wise decision to include the track record of the school and employment rate when selecting a school because you can be assured that they can provide you with the best quality training and will ready you for the certification exams.
- The instructor should have a proven track record. The instructor must walk the talk meaning he should have wide experience in the said field so that he can share his knowledge with students. You could ask about the instructor’s background from school before enrolling.
- A training school that conducts onsite training will be a good pick for an employer. This is ideal if you are an employer who wants to conduct onsite training. With onsite training, the instructor can modify the curriculum to match up with the types of cranes and behaviors of crane operators onsite.
Getting Certified by NCCCO
Having a certification tells employers and your peers that you are qualified for the job. If you want to get the certification, the NCCCO is the one you should strive to attain. Here are what you need to know in order to prepare and pass the certification exams.
- The requirements are: you need to be at least 18 years old, meet the terms of the NCCCO substance abuse policy, and comply with the NCCCO code of ethics.
- To become NCCCO certified, you must pass the written and practical exams. In order to boost your chance of passing these two parts of the certification exams, you must take a crane operation training course to prepare you.
- You must pass the Core written exam and at least one Specialty exam as well as the practical tests in order to get certified by NCCCO. The certification has a validity of five (5) years. Afterwhich, you must take recertification to remain certified.
- The NCCCO written certification exam can be taken either via paper/pencil or computer-based testing. If you want to take the paper/pencil test, visit first this page, to know the schedule and testing location. When you find a schedule and location suited to you, submit the completed candidate application form, testing fee and as well as any correspondence and requests for information concerning the administration of CCO examinations to NCCCO—Testing Services Department, 1960 Bayshore Boulevard, Dunedin, FL 34698, Phone: 727-449-8525, Fax: 727-461-2746.
On the other hand, if you want to take the computer-based test, you can visit this page complete the information required on that page, after completing, you will receive an email 2 days after containing instructions on how to register for the exam, after that, you will receive an email again confirming your exam date and location. Although this test is electronic, you are not allowed to take it using your computer at home. You still must visit the nearest testing center. The advantage of taking the CBT test is that scheduling is much convenient and the release of the test result is faster.
- In recertification, you must complete the requirements 12 months prior to your current certification expiry date. The recertification requirements are almost the same as when you first took it – you must pass the written and practical tests, except if you show proof that you have at least 1,000 hours of practical experience, you do not need to take the practical exam to recertify. If you weren’t able to recertify before the certification expiration date, you must take again the written and practical exams to be recertified.
- The exam result will be mailed to you 12 business days after taking it or if you took it using computer-based administration, expect the result will be released in just 72 hours. If you failed the written exam and you want to retake it, you cannot do it right away. You have to give NCCCO a notice at least four (4) days before sitting for the exam.
Getting certified is important, it helps you find a good job, advance in your career and find a long-term career as a crane operator.
Getting Crane Operator License in Chicago
If you are a crane operator whose job assignment is in Chicago, you may be required to obtain a license. The license is required if you are to operate crane equipment with a rated lifting/hoisting capacity of over 2,000 pounds.
In order to apply for a license, you must be at least 21 years old, you must have at least 2,000 hours of work experience as a crane operator for the past 2 years or have completed an apprenticeship program, and show proof of having a national crane certification before you can take the written and practical exams.
If you want to apply for the written exam, you can visit this page http://continentaltestinginc.com/ to apply online and check for the upcoming exam schedules. Once you have completed the written exam, the result will be mailed to you within 10 business days together with the instruction and information on how to schedule for the practical exam.
If you are already licensed, you are not required to take the written and practical exams. However, if you want to be licensed on other types of crane equipment, you must pass the practical test specific to that type of equipment.
To summarize everything, in order to work in Chicago as a crane operator, you must have national certification and Chicago Crane License. For more information, please visit this resource.
Crane Operator Salary in Illinois
If you are asking how much does crane operators make in the state of Illinois, well, according to the latest October 29, 2021 report of Salary.Com, it is at an average of $68,413, but since there’s a deviation, the salary typically falls between $57,197 and $77,622. These figures are according to the latest report of Salary.com.
Having the license and certification together with years of experience makes you ripe for the job as employers prefer candidates with such credentials. If you have handled other jobs in the construction industry, list these as well in your resume, employers value job candidates with a wide range of experience in the field.
The demand for crane operators will increase, which means the work is there. The boom of the construction industry is likely the main reason why there will be a demand today and in the foreseeable future. If you are considering a career change and is being a crane operator is on top of your list, you would not regret it. Crane operators are well paid and job opportunity is just around the corner.
To Wrap This Up
It is true that a lot of people want a career change or continue their studies in order to advance their careers and get a better salary. And if being a crane operator is the number one in your list of professions you want to be in, you would not regret it.
The state of Illinois has a big demand for qualified crane operators in the construction industry. The opportunities for making a fat paycheck are always there.
You just have what it takes to be a crane operator and everything will be OK to make a good and long-term career.