What does a Crane Operator do?

Learn all about Crane Operator duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Crane Operator.

Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 5 min read

A crane operator is responsible for the operation of a crane, which is a large machine used to move heavy objects by suspending them from a beam. The operator controls the crane using a variety of levers and buttons, and must be able to judge distances accurately in order to avoid accidents.

Crane Operator job duties include:

  • Read and interpret construction plans and specifications to determine work requirements
  • Operate crane to lift, move, and position loads, such as machinery, equipment, products, and construction materials, using hoisting attachments, such as sling, beam clamp, cable, grapple, or handspike
  • Signal workers operating winches or other lifting devices to lower or raise loads
  • Position load over desired location and release load to lower it into place
  • Observe load hookup and determine safety of load
  • Monitor operation of crane and act quickly to correct problems
  • Perform routine maintenance on crane, such as lubricating moving parts and inspecting brakes and tires
  • Keep log of daily crane activity
  • Comply with safety regulations in order to maintain safe work environment

Crane Operator Job Requirements

Most crane operators learn on the job, starting as apprentices. Some operators may have a degree from a vocational school or community college, but it is not required. Certification is not required, but many employers prefer or require it. Certification shows that an operator has the skills and knowledge to safely operate a crane. To get certified, an operator must pass an examination that covers topics such as crane set-up, signaling, and load calculation. Some states have their own certification programs. Many crane operators start out working in other jobs in the construction industry, such as laborers or equipment operators, before becoming crane operators.

Crane Operator Skills

  • Safely operate a crane to lift, lower, and transport materials.
  • Read and interpret load charts and other technical data.
  • Perform routine maintenance on cranes and equipment.
  • Inspect crane for defects and malfunctions.
  • Signal workers to guide them in the movement of loads.
  • Position blocks, outriggers, booms, or other attachments prior to lifting loads.
  • Estimate weights of loads and determine the center of gravity.
  • Select appropriate rigging gear and attach loads securely.
  • Operate crane controls to regulate speed, altitude, and direction of travel.
  • React quickly and safely in emergency situations.
  • Keep detailed records of inspections, maintenance, and repairs.

Related: Top Crane Operator Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Crane Operator

A crane operator is a professional who is responsible for the operation of a crane. They are responsible for the safety of the workers and equipment as well as the smooth operation of the crane. There are many different types of cranes, and each has its own set of safety procedures. A crane operator must be familiar with all aspects of the crane they are operating and be able to follow all safety procedures.

The first step to becoming a crane operator is to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Many employers will also require that you have a valid driver’s license. Once you have these basic requirements, you can begin training to become a certified crane operator.

There are many ways to get training to become a certified crane operator. Many companies that operate cranes offer on-the-job training. This type of training is often the most effective because you will be able to learn while working under the supervision of an experienced operator. There are also many vocational schools that offer programs specifically designed to train people to become crane operators. These programs usually last between six and eight weeks and include both classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Once you have completed your training, you will need to take and pass an examination in order to receive your certification. The examination will test your knowledge of safety procedures, operating procedures, and maintenance procedures. After you have passed the examination, you will be issued a certificate that is valid for three years.

Becoming a certified crane operator can open up many doors for employment opportunities. Many construction companies require their operators to be certified, so this can be a great way to get your foot in the door in this industry. With experience, you may even be able to move into management positions or start your own construction company.

Related: Crane Operator Resume Example

Related: Crane Operator Interview Questions (With Example Answers)