How to Become a Crane Operator in UKIf your passion leads you into thinking of becoming a crane operator in the UK, then you are on the right path – this job is highly in demand.

But before you get your hands dirty and make money, there are prerequisites that are needed to be achieved – training and qualifications.

The two most important things you need are the practical experience that can be acquired by undergoing a short training course or a longer-period apprenticeship program, and of course a CPCS card as proof of being competent.

In this article, we will be discussing about how to take the training course and how to get a CPCS card since these are complex processes that you have to go through.

Keep reading...

How Do I Get a Crane Operator Licence (The CPCS Route)

If you’re just starting out in the career as a crane operator, the first question that comes to your mind is how I get a crane licence in the UK.

Please do remember that the construction industry has changed since then, now, if you want to be a crane operator in the UK, you must have a Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) licence since most contractors and employers are now requiring candidates to have that credential.

  1. To get a crane licence in the UK, you have to take a training course from an approved training organization for you to be able to prepare and pass the CPCS technical testing.

  2. The course can be completed in just 2 weeks or so and during this duration, you will undergo classroom and hands-on training and at the end are the written and practical tests. If you’re successful, you will then be issued with a red CPCS card which is valid for two years.

  3. After that, the next step is to do is complete an NVQ in your relevant occupation, you will then get a blue card showing “competent operator” on the card which is valid for a longer period of 5 years. This is different from the red one you previously received that has a “trained operator” on it.

To guide you through these processes, read below...

How Do You Get a CPCS Card (The Red One First)

Now that we’ve mentioned how to get your initial crane operator license, aka the red CPCS card, let’s now talk about the details and steps in getting this CPCS card which I believe you likely want to achieve first at the beginning of the process:

  1. Pass the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) touchscreen test – this test must be taken before the technical test, it is taken at a Pearson Vue Test Centre, a testing centre like this can be found in many cities while booking for the test can be done online which mean it is convenient to reserve or you can call 0344 994 4488. 

    If you failed on the first try, you can retake the test as there is no limit in taking it, however, you have to pay for every retest, all you need is a debit/credit card. When you’re successful, you can now begin taking a training course.

  2. Take a CPCS crane training course – you might have heard that taking a CPCS course is not necessary, and I say, yes it is not. But without it, you are more likely to fail the technical test and reduce opportunities to land a job since CPCS is widely-recognized in the construction industry. 

    If you looking for a training provider, we made a list of approved training organizations across the country where you can take the course, see below.

  3. Take the CPCS technical test – this test is composed of theory and practical tests. As opposed to the traditional paper-and-pencil test, this theory test is verbal. While in the practical test you will be given a set of instructions to perform with the crane you’ve been trained on. 

    The passing grade for the technical test is 80% of this writing.

  4. Receive your red CPCS card – if you hit the 80% passing mark, your red CPCS card will be rewarded to you. Congratulations, you’re now a new member of CPCS. This card, again, has a two year validity period.

    If you notice that your red card has a “trained operator” on it. That means basically saying you’re still a “provisional” operator and don’t have the experience yet to operate the equipment unsupervised.


Not let’s talk about how to get your blue CPCS card that will allow you to operate the crane you’ve been trained on.

Getting the Blue CPCS Card

CPCS CardIn the two year validity of the red CPCS card, you have enough time to acquire the necessary experience to be deemed competent and safe in the crane operation.

Now, if you want to really fast-track your progress, some training providers offer extended training for you to develop your skills and be ready to take on another challenge – that is getting your National Vocation Qualification (NVQ).

If you believe that you’ve gained the experience and are now ready to take the NVQ assessment, you can now contact an assessment centre to register. The assessment is done onsite by an assessor.

The result of the assessment may take around 5 weeks on average to be released. However, during your waiting, you’re still able to perform your work using your CPCS red card. If the result is affirmative, you will be given a certificate of achievement.

Now, after receiving your certificate, you’re now competent to operate a crane and you can now change your CPCS red card to a blue one.

Please do remember that the NVQ certificate doesn’t expire, but the CPCS blue card does (5 years). The NVQ certificate is a great credential, most employers and companies do prefer job candidates to have this.

How to Renew a Crane Licence (Blue CPCS Competent Operator Card)

Now to renew the blue card, you are required to have the following:

  • Proof of practical experience- you have to log at least 300 hours of work related to crane operation to the logbook during the 5 year period. You have to record all your work and activities in the logbook that was given to you when you first got your blue card.

  • Must have the blue expiring CPCS card (crane licence).

  • Undergo NOCN CPCS Competence Interview – this is a simple discussion with a CPCS tester regarding how you’ve been as a CPCS cardholder and your work as a crane operator.

  • Pass the health and safety touchscreen test that can be taken at a recognized Pearson Vue Test Centre. Here are the testing certres’ locations.

Please do check with the NOCN Job Card website for more information as the requirement may change without notice. 

Some of the Recognized Approved Training Organisations in the UK

If you are looking for a training provider, here are some where you can enrol:

  • Falcon Tower Crane Services
    Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, Shipdham, Norfolk, IP25 7SD
    Falcon Freight Ltd, Watling Street, Dunstable LU6 3QT
    Unit L, Birch Business Park, Whittle Lane, Heywood, OL10 2SX
    78 Brocketsbrae Road, Lesmahagow, Lanark, ML119PT

  • Ainscough Training Services Ltd
    Unit V Excel House Churchill Rd, Leyland Business Park, Centurion Way, Leyland, PR25 3GR
    01772 623591 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  • Central Construction Training Ltd.
    Unit 5 Norton Canes Business Park, Norton Green Lane, Cannock, WS11 9SS
    01543 455 400

  • Construction Industry Safety Training Centre (CISTC)
    Rose Court, Rye Common Lane, Crondall, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 5DD
    01252 855433

  • Construction Industry Training Providers Ltd.
    Redwoods House, 14-16 Mulfords Hill, Tadley, Hampshire, RG26 3JA
    01189 700200

  • HSS Training
    76 Talbot Road, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 0PQ
    0345 605 0006

  • Bobby Beveridge Training
    15 Alba Close, Darfield, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S73 9NU
    07437 216915

  • Emerson Cranes
    83 Freshwater Road, Dagenham, London, Essex, RM8 1RX
    020 8059 2577

  • Total Construction Training
    Poplars Riding School, Old Slade Lane
    Iver, West London, SL0 9DX
    0800 999 3990

  • Ritchies Training
    Hobden Street, Glasgow G21 4AQ
    0141 557 2212

Some tips in choosing a training provider:

  • Find a training provider near your location so that you won’t have a hard time getting there. Doing so will relieve you from the hustle of getting to the class early.

  • Look for a small class size. If you were to enroll in the training program, make sure that the class is a small size – a crowded class doesn’t give you the opportunity to learn.

  • Find a training provider with a modern training facility and crane equipment. Spend some money on your education, don’t go to the cheaper provider only to find out that their equipment is outdated, you would not get value for your hard-earned money.

  • Find a training provider that will guide and assist you in getting a CPCS card. In today’s standard, if you have a CPCS card you are at better standing of land a job and receiving better pay. But getting this credential does take some preparation – this is where the training provider comes in to help you.

  • Find a training provider that can place you in an apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program is an important aspect of becoming a crane operator in the UK, a training provider can help you on this aspect. They have connections with contractors in the industry that ready to take you on as part of their workforce.

Crane Operator Apprenticeship

While taking a crane operator training course is one of the ways in becoming a crane operator, others choose to enter an apprenticeship to gain the qualifications and experience. As an apprentice, you get paid while you learn. It is a 2-year long program.

As an apprentice, you get the best chance to work with the best people in the construction industry because you will work under their supervision and guidance. If you got into an apprenticeship, your employer will give you the work to perform and your chosen training provider will supply theoretical knowledge in crane operating.

If you want to take on this route in becoming a crane operator in the UK, here are the things you have to do:

  1. Complete the requirements – gaining into the program doesn’t take that many requirements but it is your competitive advantage if you have GCSE grades A*-C in English, maths and technology, you must have good communication skills, be in good medical and physical condition the nature of the job requires it.

  2. Enroll in a training program offered by a school or provider – doing so you will gain knowledge and confidence in crane operating. If you want to look for a training provider, just ask your colleagues or friends, or you can also do an online search.

  3. Find an employer who wants to absorb you as their apprentice. An employer could a self-employed individual, a small construction firm, or a large-business contractor. If you want to test your luck in finding an employer who will take you on, find a construction company in your area, visit their website to see if vacancies are available and to keep up to date.

  4. Find a job - when the apprenticeship is complete and you have acquired the qualifications, the company that absorbed you may offer you a full-time job as a crane operator. For whatever circumstance you did not, you can easily look for another employer and job search has become easy because you have now that it takes to perform the job as a crane operator.


Being a crane operator does take some time and effort in preparing. You have to go through training to gain practical experience and theoretical knowledge, you have to get the required licence as well.

But with determination and perseverance, you can attain your objective. And in the end, you reap the fruits of your hard work as crane operators are highly paid and sought after nowadays and in the coming years.

We hope this article on how to become a crane operator in the UK helped you take the first step and start the journey. We always wish you good luck! Be Safe always!