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How Do I Become A Crane Operator?

Blog, Crane Operator

If you’ve done a little research into becoming a crane operator, chances are you’ve already discovered a potentially lucrative new career for yourself. Whether you’ve been in the construction industry for years and are looking to increase your marketable skills, or you are looking for a fresh start doing something completely different, maybe you’ve considered that crane operator school is for you.

It’s likely you’ve already heard that crane operators make a good deal more money than other, less-skilled people in the same industry. The average hourly pay works out to about $24.43 per hour, with the option of even more money as you gain more skills and experience. The fact is that skilled workers who can operate heavy equipment, such as cranes, are in high demand, and companies are willing to pay to make sure they get the right people for the job.

At this point, you may be thinking: I know all this! I already know I want to advance my career and make more money by learning to become a crane operator. But how do I do it?

Well, as with many jobs you may be interested in, your best bet is to further your education. While it’s possible, in some places, to earn all your experience on the job, it’s difficult to get your foot in the door. Not only that, even if you have some experience with heavy equipment, many companies won’t even consider hiring you if you aren’t certified. Some places have laws in place, or are considering laws, that won’t allow companies to hire anyone that doesn’t already have a crane operator’s certificate. Your best option, then, is to get your license, your training, and your onsite experience all in one place: a reputable crane operator school.

Finding a School

We know, we just recommended going to crane operator school as if it were the simplest thing in the world. In some ways, it kind of is: you don’t have to take any tests or have any previous experience to sign up for classes. Rather, the real challenge is finding a reputable school with highly experienced instructors and high-quality training. If you’re truly serious about becoming a crane operator, then you need to get yourself to the best school you can.

Figuring out which school to go to takes a bit of due diligence. First, you’ll need to find schools in your area. Of course, some areas don’t have any schools at all, and you’ll have to be prepared to do some traveling to get your license. Other places have the opposite problem: too many schools in a small area. If that’s the case where you are, it’s important that you do as much research as you can to make sure the school is right for you. Read reviews, check references, and talk to previous graduates of the school. You can even contact local job sites where you may be hoping to work one day and see if they have hired graduates from your prospective schools in the past.

If you’re in the Portland or Seattle area—or anywhere on the West Coast, really, provided you’re willing to travel—West Coast Training offers a high-quality crane operator course. You can learn more about the application process here. We only hire the most experienced instructors available and will give you plenty of classroom time; just as important, though, is the experience you’ll get in the field.

Learning the Trade

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that, in order to become a crane operator and get hired on a job site, you’ll need to have done quite a lot of one particular thing: operate cranes! Indeed, no employer will consider you if you haven’t had a lot of time behind the controls of the various types of cranes they may use on a job site.

Realistically, you won’t just be operating the cranes, either: there are other logistical jobs you may have to get involved in. For example, you might occasionally have to work as a signalperson, helping the person operating the crane get their work done. A good crane operator school, like the one at West Coast Training, will have you working in the field at least half the time, learning to operate the cranes—and perform other tasks related to them—that you’ll come to use when you start finding employment.

Getting Your Certificate

As we mentioned, some employers won’t even look at your resume if you don’t have a certificate from the NCCCO, or the National Commission For The Certification of Crane Operators. While most places don’t actually have laws in place requiring operators to be certified, many employers are still sticklers for it. The reason is simple: they’re looking for people they know are experienced in the field of crane operation.

They also want people who they can be sure are safe. Heavy equipment, like cranes, can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly, so employers want to know that the people they’re hiring have safety as a top priority. People who have the NCCCO certification give their employers peace of mind because those employers know their workers have been highly trained in all aspects of crane safety. That’s why you need to look for a school that will leave you with an NCCCO certificate. A school such as West Coast Training.

Applying for Jobs

Well, you’ve gone through a rigorous eight-week course learning to become a crane operator. You have studied everything the job requires, and you’ve tested out. The day you graduated and received your certificate was a proud day, but now you have the same question every graduate in the world does at some point: now what?

Actually finding jobs, even after you have the skills and experience, can be challenging. A good school will help you with that. They’ll put you in contact with potential employers and help you build a resume that will wow them. They’ll keep you in contact with other students as well, helping you to build your network and eventually begin making your name known among the prospective employers near you.

As with any job, it’s often about who you know, so a good school and staying in contact with people you have worked for and within the past will go a long way toward getting you hired in the future. Good luck with your new career!