A crane operator is a very important member of a construction or engineering team where heavy and large equipment and material is required to be moved. Material handling by cranes requires skill and alertness, and stamina. A crane operator should also have a healthy respect for safety as carelessness could lead to endangering human life and damage to expensive property.
We show you how to become a certified and licensed crane operator in 6 steps.
1. Finish your schooling
Although it is not a prerequisite for becoming a crane operator, it is advisable to complete your secondary school diploma with as many technical, math and workshop subjects as possible. This will help you in clearing mandatory exams later on.
2. Enroll in a Crane Operator Training Program
Most material handling equipment handlers first learn their ropes through on-job training; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics crane operators are required to undergo specialized training programs. Check out availability of these programs from your college, technical schools and training centers. Your local Unions and trade organizations also conduct these from time to time. These are generally short capsule courses and do not require much time.
Training programs typically cover a wide range of topics from crane operation and maintenance, types of cranes, rigging and wire ropes, stability of hanging weights, signaling, safety devices, load testing and safety regulations.
“Crane operator” is a general term. There are very specialized areas of crane operation like tower crane operator, mobile crane operator and overhead crane operator. Select a specialized field and concentrate in getting trained in it.
4. Become an Apprenticeship
The International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) offers apprentice programs besides training programs. Enroll as an apprentice to gain invaluable on-job training as well as getting paid in the process.
Other means of getting an apprenticeship is to directly approach construction contractors operating cranes. Work for free as an apprentice, if necessary.
5. Licensure and Certification
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics requires a crane operator to be licensed in no less than 17 states. The requirements vary from state to state but practical demonstration of competency and passing written exams is mandatory.
Certification can be obtained through the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and the Crane Institute of America.
You can also get certified through the IUOE’s Operating Engineers Certification Program.
6. Get Employed
After certification and licensure, seek employment as a crane operator. The opportunities are almost limitless as a crane operator is in great demand in almost all areas of industry like warehousing, manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, shipyards and ports, etc.
You will be glad to know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that there is a projected growth of 17 percent for crane operators between 2012 and 2020.
Apply for vacancies through job portals, placement agencies or directly by posting your resume on company web sites. If you have contacts in the industry, approach them by all means.
Now that you are a certified and licensed crane operator always remember that your role requires a lot of maturity and responsibility on your part – the safety of men and material is in your hands. Good luck!