Top 11 Crane Operator Certifications
This article provides an overview of the top crane operator certifications available for those looking to enter the field.
Published 18 min read
Certifications are important for crane operators in the job market because they demonstrate a level of knowledge and expertise that potential employers can trust. They also provide evidence that the operator is properly trained, has an understanding of safety requirements, and is familiar with the specific type of equipment being used. Additionally, certifications can help set apart a crane operator from other candidates when applying for jobs. Employers usually prefer to hire individuals with certifications because it reduces their risk and helps ensure that their operations are conducted safely and efficiently.
This article reviews some of the top certifications for Crane Operators and explains how they can help to enhance a crane operator's career.
What are Crane Operator Certifications?
Crane operator certification is a process that certifies a crane operator has the skills and knowledge to safely operate a crane. This certification is not only required by OSHA for certain types of cranes, but also provides employers with assurance that their operators are properly trained and qualified to safely and effectively use the equipment. It also ensures that employers are in compliance with applicable safety regulations.
The certification process typically consists of both theoretical and practical tests which cover topics such as rigging, lift planning, crane operation and maintenance, safety procedures, and other related topics. Once an individual has successfully completed the required exams they will receive a certificate from an accredited organization acknowledging their qualification as a certified crane operator.
Having certified crane operators can help reduce workplace accidents and improve efficiency in operations. By having operators who are properly trained on how to use cranes safely, employers can be assured that their employees are working in a safe environment while getting the job done quickly and efficiently. Certified operators have been shown to have fewer accidents than those without any formal training or certification. Additionally, it gives employers peace of mind knowing that their employees are up-to-date on all safety regulations and requirements when operating machinery.
Pro tip: Make sure you have all of the necessary crane operator certifications before operating a crane. These include certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO), and any other state or local requirements. Additionally, make sure to stay up-to-date with any changing regulations or safety protocols.
Related: What does a Crane Operator do?
Top 11 Crane Operator Certifications
Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Crane Operators today.
1. National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO)
The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is a nonprofit organization that provides certification to crane operators in the United States. The NCCCO is dedicated to promoting safety and safe practices in the crane industry by providing certification programs for crane operators, riggers, and signal persons.
In order to receive certification from the NCCCO, an individual must first pass a written exam and then pass a practical exam. The written exam consists of multiple-choice questions related to crane operation and safety. The practical exam requires an individual to demonstrate their knowledge of crane operation by completing tasks such as setting up, operating, and dismantling a crane safely.
It typically takes around two weeks for an individual to receive their certification after passing both exams. To get certified by the NCCCO, an individual must register with the organization and pay a fee which varies depending on the type of certification being sought. For example, it costs $150 for an operator certification and $125 for a signalperson or rigger certification.
2. Crane Institute Certification (CIC)
Crane Institute Certification (CIC) is a professional certification program that provides specialized training and certification to crane operators, riggers, signalpersons, and inspectors. The program was developed by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) in partnership with the Crane Institute of America.
The CIC program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical exam. The written exam covers topics such as crane safety, rigging principles, crane components, and operations. The practical exam tests an individual’s ability to safely operate a crane in various scenarios. Both exams must be passed in order to receive CIC certification.
It typically takes approximately six months to complete the CIC program from start to finish. During this time, individuals must complete both the written and practical exams as well as any required training courses or seminars.
In order to get CIC certified, individuals must first register with NCCCO and pay the applicable fees. After registering, they will receive information about upcoming test dates and locations as well as instructions on how to prepare for the exams. Once all requirements have been met, individuals can then sit for the exams and receive their CIC certification upon passing them both.
The cost of getting CIC certified varies depending on which courses or seminars are taken prior to taking the exams. Generally speaking though, it costs around $1,000-$2,000 USD for registration fees alone. Additional costs may include study materials such as books or online courses as well as travel expenses if necessary.
3. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30.5 Mobile and Locomotive Cranes Operator Certification
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B30.5 Mobile and Locomotive Cranes Operator Certification is a certification program that provides recognition for operators who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to safely operate mobile and locomotive cranes. The certification is valid for five years from the date of issuance.
To become certified, applicants must successfully complete a written exam and practical evaluation administered by an ASME-approved testing agency. The written exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as crane safety, rigging basics, load calculations, crane operations, and maintenance. The practical evaluation requires the applicant to demonstrate their ability to safely operate a mobile or locomotive crane in accordance with ASME standards.
The cost of the certification varies depending on the testing agency; however, it typically ranges between $200 and $400. It usually takes two to three weeks to receive results after taking the exams.
Overall, obtaining an ASME B30.5 Mobile and Locomotive Cranes Operator Certification demonstrates that an individual has achieved a high level of proficiency in operating mobile and locomotive cranes safely and efficiently.
4. International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) Operator Certification
The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) Operator Certification is a program designed to ensure operators of powered access equipment are trained and certified in the safe use of MEWPs. The certification is valid for five years and must be renewed every five years.
To obtain the IPAF MEWPs Operator Certification, an individual must successfully complete an approved training course and pass a written exam. The training course covers topics such as machine safety, operation, maintenance, and inspection. It usually takes around one day to complete the training course and pass the exam.
The cost of the IPAF MEWPs Operator Certification varies depending on the country in which it is taken. Generally, it costs between $200-$400 USD for the entire process.
5. National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) Tower Crane Operator Certification
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) Tower Crane Operator Certification is a voluntary certification program designed to ensure safety and quality in the tower crane industry. The program provides an independent, third-party evaluation of a tower crane operator’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. It is intended to help employers verify that their operators are properly trained and qualified to safely operate a tower crane.
In order to obtain NATE certification, applicants must complete a comprehensive written exam and demonstrate proficiency in operating a tower crane by completing a practical evaluation administered by a qualified evaluator. The written exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as safety regulations, rigging practices, load calculations, crane setup and operation, maintenance requirements, and more. Applicants must score at least 70% on the written exam in order to pass and be eligible for the practical evaluation.
The practical evaluation requires applicants to demonstrate their ability to safely set up and operate a tower crane under realistic conditions. This includes tasks such as inspecting the equipment prior to use, calculating load weights accurately, setting up the crane correctly according to manufacturer specifications, operating the controls with precision and accuracy while maintaining proper speed control during hoisting operations, communicating effectively with other personnel on site during operations, responding appropriately in emergency situations or when abnormal conditions arise, performing routine maintenance tasks correctly as required by manufacturer specifications, and more.
The entire process typically takes three days or more depending on an applicant’s experience level. The cost of obtaining NATE certification varies depending on location but generally ranges from $600-$1000 USD per person including all fees associated with taking the written exam and completing the practical evaluation.
6. International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Boom Truck, Overhead, and Crawler Crane Operator Certification
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Boom Truck, Overhead, and Crawler Crane Operator Certification is a certification program that verifies an individual’s ability to safely and competently operate boom trucks, overhead cranes, and crawler cranes. The certification is valid for three years from the date of issue.
To obtain the IUOE Boom Truck, Overhead, and Crawler Crane Operator Certification, an individual must complete an approved training program offered by a qualified instructor. This program typically consists of classroom instruction as well as practical experience in operating the equipment. Upon successful completion of the training program, applicants must pass a written exam administered by the IUOE in order to receive their certification.
The cost for obtaining the IUOE Boom Truck, Overhead, and Crawler Crane Operator Certification varies depending on the provider offering the training course. Generally speaking, courses range from $500 to $1,000 USD.
7. Industrial Training International (ITI) Rigging and Signal Person Qualification Program
Industrial Training International (ITI) Rigging and Signal Person Qualification Program is a comprehensive program designed to train workers in the safe and efficient use of rigging and signaling equipment. The program consists of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and an exam. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive a certificate from ITI certifying them as qualified Rigging and Signal Persons.
The program takes approximately three days to complete, depending on the number of students enrolled in the class. During the course, students learn about rigging components, inspection requirements, load weight calculations, proper hoisting techniques, signal person responsibilities, and more.
To get ITI Rigging and Signal Person Qualification Program certification you must take a class at an approved ITI training center or online. The cost for the class varies depending on where it is taken but typically ranges between $500-$1,000 USD.
8. National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Certified Crane Operator Program
The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Certified Crane Operator Program is a comprehensive training program designed to provide crane operators with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to safely and efficiently operate cranes in the construction industry. The program consists of two parts: a classroom-based theoretical component and an on-the-job practical component.
The classroom portion of the program covers topics such as crane safety, rigging fundamentals, crane setup, load chart interpretation, signal communication methods, and basic maintenance. This portion of the program typically takes about 40 hours to complete.
After completing the classroom portion of the program, students must pass a written exam in order to become NCCER certified. Once certified, students can then move on to the practical portion of the program which involves operating a crane under direct supervision from a qualified instructor. This portion of the program typically takes about 80 hours to complete.
In order to get NCCER Certified Crane Operator certification, individuals must first enroll in an accredited training provider that offers NCCER’s crane operator certification course. The cost of this course varies depending on the provider but typically ranges from $2,000-$3,000 USD. Upon successful completion of both portions of the course (classroom and practical), individuals will receive their NCCER Certified Crane Operator certification card which is valid for five years before needing renewal.
9. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 10-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Training Program
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 10-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Training Program is a program designed to provide workers with safety and health education in the construction industry. The program covers topics such as hazard recognition, accident prevention, and OSHA regulations related to the construction industry.
The program is divided into two parts: a five-hour online course and a five-hour instructor-led course. The online portion of the program can be completed in as little as one day or over multiple days, depending on the student’s schedule. The instructor-led portion of the program must be completed within ten hours, typically over two days.
To get the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry Outreach Training Program, individuals can register for an online course through an approved training provider or attend an instructor-led course at an approved training site. The cost of the program varies depending on the provider and location of the training. Generally, it costs around $100-$150 per person to take part in this training program.
10. American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welder Program
The American Welding Society (AWS) Certified Welder Program is a certification program that recognizes the skills and knowledge of welders in the welding industry. The program provides employers with a reliable way to identify qualified welders who have met the requirements for certification.
To become an AWS Certified Welder, applicants must pass a written examination and demonstrate their welding skills through a hands-on test. The written exam covers topics such as safety, welding processes, and metallurgy. The hands-on test requires welders to complete a series of welds according to AWS standards.
The entire process usually takes around 4-6 weeks from start to finish, depending on the availability of testing centers and examiners. Applicants should plan ahead and allow enough time for scheduling tests and receiving results before applying for jobs or contracts that require AWS certification.
The cost of becoming an AWS Certified Welder can vary depending on the type of certification sought, but typically ranges from $150 - $400 USD. This cost includes the application fee, written exam fee, hands-on test fee, and any other applicable fees associated with taking the tests or obtaining certification documents.
Overall, becoming an AWS Certified Welder is a great way to demonstrate your qualifications as a welder and increase your employability in the field.
11. American Petroleum Institute’s SafeGulf/SafeLandUSA Rig Pass Program
The American Petroleum Institute’s SafeGulf/SafeLandUSA Rig Pass Program is a comprehensive safety training program designed to provide offshore and onshore oil and gas workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely perform their job duties. The program is intended to reduce incidents, injuries, and fatalities in the workplace by providing workers with the necessary safety information.
The Rig Pass Program consists of three separate components: a written test, an online training course, and a hands-on practical assessment. The written test covers topics such as basic safety regulations, emergency response procedures, first aid and firefighting techniques, hazardous material handling, personal protective equipment (PPE), and more. Upon completion of the written test, applicants must complete an online training course which covers more detailed topics related to safe work practices in the oil and gas industry. Finally, applicants must pass a hands-on practical assessment which tests their ability to safely perform tasks related to their job role.
The Rig Pass Program takes approximately two days to complete depending on the applicant's experience level. To get started with the program, applicants must register for an account at www.safegulf.org or www.safelandusa.org and pay a registration fee of $150 USD per person for access to both courses (written test + online training). After completing all three components of the program successfully, applicants will be issued a valid Rig Pass card that is valid for two years from date of issue.
Do You Really Need a Crane Operator Certificate?
The answer to this question depends on the type of work you will be doing. If you are looking to operate a crane for commercial or industrial applications, then it is absolutely necessary to have a Crane Operator Certificate. This certificate is issued by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and is the only nationally recognized credential for crane operators. The certification shows that an individual has been properly trained and tested in crane operations, safety rules, and regulations.
In addition to having a Crane Operator Certificate, employers may also require additional training and/or certifications depending on the type of work being done. For example, some employers may require additional certifications such as OSHA 10-Hour Safety Training or NCCER Rigging Certification. Other employers may require that you have experience operating certain types of cranes or working with certain materials. Depending on your job requirements, there could be other certifications that are necessary as well.
Overall, having a Crane Operator Certificate is essential if you plan on operating a crane commercially or industrially. It proves that you have been properly trained and certified in crane operation safety standards and regulations, which helps protect both yourself and those around you from potential hazards associated with crane operation. Additionally, having a certificate can help demonstrate your knowledge and abilities to potential employers when applying for jobs in the field.
Related: Crane Operator Resume Examples
FAQs About Crane Operator Certifications
1. What is a crane operator certification?
Answer: A crane operator certification is a credential that verifies an individual has the necessary qualifications and experience to safely operate a crane. It is typically issued by a government agency or professional organization after successful completion of an approved course and/or examination.
2. What types of cranes require certification?
Answer: The type of crane that requires certification depends on the jurisdiction, but in general, any crane with a capacity greater than 5 tons will require certification. Some jurisdictions may also require certification for smaller cranes.
3. How long does it take to become certified?
Answer: The amount of time required to become certified varies depending on the type of training and testing required by the jurisdiction where you are seeking certification. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on your level of experience and the requirements for your specific jurisdiction.
4. How much does it cost to get certified?
Answer: Costs vary depending on the type of training and testing required by the jurisdiction where you are seeking certification, as well as other factors such as travel expenses for attending classes or taking exams if necessary. Generally speaking, expect to pay anywhere from several hundred dollars to over one thousand dollars for all costs associated with becoming certified.
5. Is recertification necessary?
Answer: Yes, most jurisdictions require crane operators be recertified every few years in order to maintain their credentials in good standing and ensure they remain current with industry standards and regulations.