How to Become a Crane OperatorHow to become a crane operator? It is the common question we frequently hear from individuals who want to get into this profession. Becoming a crane operator is a satisfying and well-paid occupation that only needs few weeks of training to get certified.

Being a crane operator is an in-demand profession that would not cease. Your skill is highly sought after by contractors and builders, logistics corporations and manufacturing giants. These businesses require operators who are skillful and competent in doing their craft.

If you want to start your journey to become a crane operator, we gathered all the information that you need to know in this article for you to be able to get your certification and license.



Steps in Taking the Crane Operator Training

Assess What Crane You Would Want to Operate (Step 1)

When you are choosing the class of crane you want to get certified operating, first decide on what type of environment you would want to employ in, you could determine the cranes that suit the workplace situation, with that, you can make the final decision of what class of crane you would want to operate.

You can work in various workplaces, from civil construction sites, from large warehousing and manufacturing companies to mining sites, you could find crane operators. The heavy equipment involved in such operation depends mainly on what type of business you are working in.

Complete the Requirements (Step 2)

Becoming a crane operator requires you to attain high school education or GED certification as its equivalent; Be at the minimum age of 18 years old and above; some training schools require applicants to pass the medical exam before getting accepted for a training class; applicant must meet ASME B30 physical requirement, you could show your DOT medical examiner’s certificate, if you have;

Find a Crane Operator Training Course (Step 3)

The crane operator training course educates the trainee about the equipment maintenance and safe its operation. The course will also cover topics on rigging and signaling, pre and post operation inspection, current standards such as the ASME and OSHA legislation, and other subjects that are deemed necessary.

You will spend most of the time operating the crane hands-on and learn from the instructor and by interacting with fellow trainees. It is then recommended not to learn from online courses.

You can become a crane operator trainee by enrolling at a school. You can browse the lists of schools where you can take a class, we’ve prepared the directory, just choose the state where you are on the left side of this webpage. In choosing a school, make sure it has high student passing rate, has the modern equipment and professional trainers to learn from.

Take the Written and Practical Tests (Step 4)

Taking and passing the written and practical tests and getting certified are not usually necessary unless it is required by your prospective employer or by the state where you will be working in.

Presently, there 17 states and 6 cities requiring crane operators to be certified and licensed, the states are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, West Virginia; the cities are: Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Omaha, Philadelphia, Washington, DC. These are cities and states that either requires you to have license or recognize NCCCO certification.

The NCCCO certification is widely recognized, to get the CCO certification you will be required to take the both the written and practical exams. You can take the test in any order, but you need to pass the other within 12 months, otherwise, you will need to retake the certification process from the start.

If you’ve got your certification, it will have a five-year validity in which you need to retake the tests to renew it.

Going Through Apprenticeship Program (Step 5)

To become an experienced crane operator, you can spend more time learning in the field. You can enroll in an apprenticeship program.

The duration needed to complete an apprenticeship program will depend mostly on the trainee’s capacity to understand different skills and proficiency and apply them to accomplish a variety of tasks and subjects at hand.

The goal of the apprenticeship program is to supply the much-needed knowledge and skill in hands-on field operation for the trainee to operate the equipment safely and proficiently.



In Order to Become a Crane Operator, You Need to Attain the Requirements

Standard Requirements

Under the NCCCO standard, to become eligible crane operator, you need to be at the age of 18 years old and older, meet the medical/physical evaluation requirement set forth by the NCCCO, conform with the NCCCO substance abuse policy, adhere to the NCCCO code of ethics standard, and pass the written and practical tests administered by this certifying body.


In relation to education, a candidate must have a high school diploma or its equivalent general education degree (GED) certificate.

The high school education or GED certificate is a proof of education attainment enabling you to read and interpret maintenance manual, operating procedure, and safety policies and write business correspondence and reports. Having high school education makes you able to perform math which is required for the job. You need to execute basic computation in many units of measurements. You need to be able to compute rate and percentage and blueprint ratio and understand graphs and drawings.

Possession of Certificate or License

Some states require that some types of crane operators be trained and certified.

In order to be certified crane operator, federal laws and OSHA regulations mandate that candidates must take crane training course and pass the written and practical tests for the candidates to have knowledge and competency to operate the crane safely. You can take the crane training by enrolling in a class. We’ve prepared lists/directories of crane training schools by state (see below or left of screen) where you can take the training. Check the state where you are located, and choose one nearest to you. Make an inquiry first before enrolling.

Candidates can also take certification by undergoing assessments offered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators or Crane Institute of America.

NCCCO is recognized by OSHA and ASME/ANSI as meeting their requirements regarding standards to implement for crane operator training. NCCCO is also accredited by National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Ability to speak and understand English

As mentioned above, a crane operator sits inside the cab and to communicate with others you use radios. Effective communication with the team is vital to do the job safely and accurately. You must demonstrate your ability to speak and talk the English Language. Though, it may only be applicable to those crane operators whose first language is not English.

Physical Stamina

Working with cranes and other heavy equipment demands operators to be physically strong. The job is physically demanding. You need to have the physical vigor to operate the crane for many hours every work shift.

In the season when the business operation is in full swing, you may be required to work more than 8 hours every shift.

Ability to Cope Up With the Modern Technology

As a trained crane operator, it is very vital for you to maintain your proficiency current. The technology moves fast. Nowadays, modern cranes in the field often are equipped with computers to assist the crane operator inside the cab. As a crane operator, you have to keep up with the changing technology that is being introduced to the crane.



Attaining NCCCO Certification

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is an accrediting body that's recognized by the Federal OSHA, by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as meeting the testing standards.

The NCCCO was created to establish the certification program for crane operators nationwide. Each state has its own law related to crane certification, but most states require certification through the NCCCO. To become a certified operator, you must succeed in passing the lengthy written test and the comprehensive practical assessment.

Candidates who are enrolled at a training school associated with the NCCCO can receive highest quality training. Candidates will undergo extensive preparatory training courses together with the written and practical tests. The training program will test the student’s knowledge on different aspects of crane operation on site.

If you attain the NCCCO certification, you bear the good mark of the standard the institution.

Enrolling in a Crane Operator School

The best and easiest route to take to get your certification is by enrolling in a crane operator training course.

Nowadays, you can find a lot of heavy equipment training school that offers a course for a crane. To make your journey in finding one that’s right for you, we’ve prepared lists of crane operator schools near where you are.

In the left or bottom of your screen, we’ve prepared a menu (by state) containing the directories of training schools where you can register in for a course. We also included their contact details so that you can make an inquiry and take an advice if it suits what you need.

The school will teach you everything you need to know to operate a crane safely. You will learn different skills and abilities necessary that will give you enough proficiency to properly operate a crane when you get a job.



To Conclude This

If you think working in an office job is not your interest to do and you are more inclined handling heavy equipment, there are many other job opportunities you can go through and one of these is becoming a crane operator. You don’t need a long formal education to be a crane operator, you only required to complete some training and attain experience in order for you to get an employment.

The job offers a good salary and job satisfaction to what you do.

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