How to Become a Certified Crane Operator
Do you enjoy working with your hands? Can you stay relaxed in the presence of heavy machinery?
If so, you may want to learn how to become a certified crane operator.
Being a certified crane operator can be a very rewarding career, but it will require a lot of hard work. For starters, if you want to learn how to become a certified crane operator, you’re going to have to attend and graduate from a trade school like West Coast Training and possibly complete an apprenticeship, learning at the feet of a licensed operator. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know how to become a certified crane operator because you’ll have the experience and education needed to apply for a crane operator’s license and competently work for construction companies.
1. Get Your High School Diploma
If you already have a high school diploma, that’s great, because it’s one step out of the way. If you don’t have your high school diploma, make sure you return to school in order to get your GED. While most crane operator jobs won’t require a college degree, they will most certainly require a high school degree, so however it is you go about it, you must obtain one.
2. Pick a Trade School or General Crane Operator Program
If you’re looking for the practical knowledge you need in order to have a successful career in construction in general, and being a crane operator in particular, you’ll need to learn this from a trade school or crane operation training program. During your time at trade school, you’ll learn how to inspect for construction codes, all within the span of a year or two or less. You can apply to trade school after receiving your high school diploma or while you are still a high school student, if you have special permission from your parents.
Despite the fact that you’ll gain much of your training from a hands-on apprenticeship, you’ll still want to go through a specified crane operation training program. These programs can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a few months, and they entail learning safety regulations and crane maintenance. The program you choose will also help you get ready for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) exam.
Be prepared to take these classes in-person, such as through the eight-week Crane Operator and Rigger training course offered by West Coast Training, as they require hands-on learning.
3. Become an Apprentice
Once you’re done with trade school or a program specializing in crane operation training, you have the option to reach out to local crane operators to ask if they would be willing to let you be an apprentice. Once you become an apprentice, it will help you learn the skills you need while on the job and enhance your overall knowledge of the construction business.
Be prepared for a lengthy process, as apprenticeships generally last for anywhere between one to six years, but you shouldn’t have to worry too much about money, as these apprenticeships usually pay a reasonable wage.
4. Pass the Physical and Written Exams
In order to receive your NCCCO certification, you’ll need to pass the ASME B30 physical requirements, so you should keep yourself in good physical condition. You’ll also need to pass both drug and psychological exams in order to become certified. It should also be noted that anybody who has epilepsy or any physical condition that could impede a person’s ability to have complete physical control at all times will not be allowed to obtain certification.
Once you’re past the training programs and apprenticeship, you’ll also need to pass a written exam. The NCCCO written exam usually contains close to 60 questions that must be completed within one hour. It’s highly recommended that you prep heavily for this exam.
If you opt for West Coast Training’s eight-week crane and rigger course, taking the NCCCO exam will be as easy as coming to class. Because West Coast Training is an approved NCCCO testing facility, the last week of the course is dedicated to completing the NCCCO written and practical exams.
6. Complete the Practical Exam
Once you complete the physical and written exams, you can move on to the practical exam. Before the actual evaluation starts, you’ll be told about a series of tasks that must get done. From there, your supervisor will watch as you are put into situations that you may actually encounter as a crane operator, and you’ll have to complete the set tasks in a manner that your supervisor determines is satisfactory and safe.
7. Apply for Crane Operator Jobs
Look through trade magazines and the online classifieds to find openings for crane operators. When sending your cover letter and resume to potential employers, be sure to list not only the training programs you attended, but also the fact that you are certified by the NCCCO.
When writing your cover letter, be very descriptive about exactly what you did during your apprenticeships and training and any other construction jobs you may have held over the course of your life. You can apply for crane operator jobs just in your local area if you like, but if you’re open to the possibility of moving, you should apply for crane operator jobs out of state as well, as that increases the number of jobs you can be considered for and improves your overall odds of becoming employed as a crane operator.