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How to Get Your Crane Operator License

The heavy equipment industry has been on the steady incline for the past decade, with foreseeable growth in the future. This means that the demand for heavy equipment operators is also on the rise.

One of the most important heavy equipment operators is a crane operator because cranes are essential to any construction site. Out of all the heavy equipment operator jobs, these are usually the top jobs and most well-paid, even by construction industry standards.

To become a crane operator means putting in the time and dedication to learn safety training and operation techniques. It might seem daunting, but getting your crane operator license can be quite simple.

Crane Operating Overview

Crane operators are those who operate or supervise the lifting and moving of materials in a construction site, business site, or port areas. They work outside in various weather conditions, from the cold of winter to hot summers.

Some basic requirements are being at least 18 years of age, ability to distinguish colors, adequate hearing, normal depth perception and vision, and no evidence of seizures or loss of physical control. This job can be physically demanding so before you become licensed you might need to undergo physical tests.

Requirements to Become a Crane Operator

Along with the basics, there are a couple of education requirements to complete in order to become a crane operator. The three main steps are attending a crane training program, passing written exams, and passing the practical exams.

Step 1: Enroll and Attend a Crane Training Program

Enrolling and attending the right crane training program can help you even after graduation. In a training program, you will learn many crane operating topics, including:

  1. Commonly-used cranes
  2. Safety operations
  3. Crane parts to know
  4. Equipment maintenance
  5. Residential, commercial, and road construction

Learning these lessons takes place both inside and outside the classroom.

Pass Written Exams
You must pass a minimum of two written exams: the core exam and a specialty exam.
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Pass Practical Exams
In practical exams, your real-world knowledge of how to operate a crane will be tested.
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Step 2: Pass Written Exams

You must pass a minimum of two written exams: the core exam and a specialty exam. The specialty exam can be geared towards any of the following specializations: lattice boom crawler cranes, lattice boom truck cranes, telescopic boom cranes with a swing cab, or telescopic boom cranes with a fixed cab.

Step 3: Pass Practical Exams

After passing your written exam, you need to pass a practical exam. In practical exams, your real-world knowledge of how to operate a crane will be tested. After successfully passing this exam, you will get your license and may begin to apply to jobs.

How Much It Costs to Become a Crane Operator: The average course for a crane training program ranges from $1,500-$2,500. Additionally, some schools might charge additional fees for practical training at hourly rates of $80-$120.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Crane Operator?

How long it takes to get your crane operator license depends on the type of training program and crane you wish to operate. On average, training programs last 4-8 weeks, and exams can be completed quickly after. However, to become a full-time professional crane operator, employers typically look for 2-5 years of experience. You can get experience through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training.

Crane Safety – Tips for Safe Lifting
If you’re going to be operating a crane lift, chances are that you could use all the safety knowledge you can manage to get your hands on. Get your complete safety guide here!!
2021 guide
How Much Does a Crane Operator Make?

Certified crane operators are some of the highest-paid operators in the construction industry. On average, the salary for a crane operator is $20.23-$35 dollars an hour. The 3 highest paying states for crane operators are:

  • Iowa
  • North Dakota
  • Wyoming
Career Growth

This is a very sought-after job because once you’re licensed, you can find a well-paying job almost anywhere since crane operators are needed nationwide. Additionally, the construction industry has a good growth projection in the coming years, which means crane operators will continue to be in high demand.

Should I Become a Crane Operator?

If you’re looking for a good-paying job that you can do in virtually any state in the U.S., then becoming a crane operator might be the right job for you. It can bring great benefits like health insurance and paid time off. The best part? You can get licensed and begin working in less than a year!

Where to Attend Crane Certification Classes

The right training program makes all the difference. That’s why the Heavy Equipment Colleges of America works hard to help you achieve your heavy equipment goals both inside and outside the classroom. With our instructors, students learn how to excel in their chosen field. Get started on your heavy equipment journey—contact us today!


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