How Do You Become a Crane Operator?

Among all construction site employees and laborers, a crane operator is one of the most important. If you don’t mind heights, like working with heavy machinery and crave hands-on work, becoming a crane operator may be right for you. Certified crane operators who excel at their job enjoy good salaries, steady work hours and a career track that offers travel opportunities.

Whether operating a boom truck, mobile or tower crane, you can expect to be working outdoors in challenging environments and moving heavy materials on construction sites, at iron mills, railways, and at seaports.

Education requirements and training

Becoming a crane operator does not require a four-year college degree, but you will need to finish high school, or earn your GED, and are encouraged to find a crane operator training program at a vocational school, community college or accredited organization. Training programs, which generally last a few weeks and provide classroom teaching and hands-on application, are not required in all states to become a certified crane operator. However, these programs are designed to give students both the knowledge and real-life experience necessary to ensure safe crane operation.

New York State requires that all crane operators are certified by either the American National Standards Institute or the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).  In order to obtain certification, you must pass both a written and practical exam, which are taken independently and have separate costs.

How much does it cost to get certified as a crane operator?

The fee for the core (written exam) to become a mobile crane operator is $165. The same fee applies to overhead and tower crane core exams. If you choose to be certified in an additional specialty, there is an additional $10 fee for each test.

The fee for the practical exam to operate either a mobile, tower or overhead crane is $60. This second phase of the two-part exam must be completed within one year of passing the written exam.

Crane operator training programs typically include fees for NCCCO core and practical exams, plus two specialty exams. Prices for 3-week programs can range from $2,500 to more than $3,500. Professional Operator Development programs may have a steep price tag, but they can help you pass the written exam while providing invaluable technical training on crane set-up, hydraulic systems, wire regulations, load charts and machinery inspection.

Bill 1447 requires safety training in NY

In an effort to reduce the rate of construction-related deaths in NYC, the city recently passed Bill 1447, which mandates that all workers — including crane operators– complete a 40-hour training course over the next two years, the exact date which is determined by the availability of training facilities. Workers will also have to complete a 10-hour course sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) by March 2018.

How much do crane operators make?

Working on a crane can be a well-paid occupation, with operators in the Northeast and West earning the biggest salaries. According to PayScale, crane operators in New York earn between $22 and $61 an hour. The median salary for a crane worker is just over $46,000 in 2017, though this figure varies depending on education, skill, and employment industry.

Though a rewarding and challenging career for many people, crane work is not without risks. In the last two years alone, more than 40 construction workers died in Manhattan and crane-related incidents claim dozens of lives across the country each year.

Edelman, Krasin, & Jaye are well-versed in New York labor and construction laws and stand prepared to protect your rights. To speak with an experienced construction accident lawyer on Long Island, please call our offices toll-free today.

Additional Resources:

  1. WorkChron, How Much Money Do Crane Operators Make?
  2. CareersinConstruction, Crane Operator,
  3. The Real Deal, Controversial construction safety bill gets Council approval
  4. BizFluent, How Much Does It Cost to Get Certified for Cranes?
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