What Does a Mobile Crane Operator Do?

Blog, Crane Operator


There’s a good chance you’ve seen a mobile crane operator before. They work on a lot of construction sites, and they assist in building many of the structures you see. Inside of the crane, the operator will seem small, but they are in control of moving big material. And they have responsibilities even beyond operating this very large machine effectively.

Mobile crane operators have to complete specific training before stepping on-site, and they’re in charge of maintaining all different aspects of their machine, from daily safety inspections to operation. They are also responsible for the safety of everyone on the site while they use the crane.

With so much responsibility, this job can be intimidating to some people, but with the right training, it’s more than attainable. If you’re looking for a new career, West Coast Training has a specific program just for people who wish to be crane operators. If you’re considering taking the leap, here’s a quick rundown of the things that a mobile crane operator has to do.

Attend Training School

One of the first things that a mobile crane operator does is attend a training school. Proper training is what allows them to complete the rest of their tasks successfully. A crane operator course can be completed in as little as 4 weeks, with 40 hours of training each week.

During that time, potential crane operators spend half of their time working in a classroom, and the other half is spent learning in the field. West Coast Training provides students with the tools they need to secure a new career once they finish their schooling. When their training is complete, they’re eligible to get their certification and start their new career.

Inspect Machinery Before Use

When a crane operator arrives at a jobsite, they don’t just hop on their machine and get to work. Doing their job this way could lead to a potentially dangerous accident. A responsible and credentialed mobile crane operator inspects the machine they’ll be using before starting any projects.

This small task can make a huge difference on a construction site, and doing so is just one of the ways a mobile crane operator maintains safety requirements. They inspect features like the control equipment, the outside of the crane, and the hydraulic system. This type of pre-operation inspection isn’t just done on the first day of a new project but daily until the project is complete.

Verify Information

Imagine moving a large amount of heavy material, only to find out it’s the wrong material or too much of it. No one likes to have to do work over again, which is why mobile crane operators verify their information beforehand. This includes checking that the material they’re moving is the correct material, double-checking where it’s being moved to, or even measuring and weighing the material. There may be a pile of material in front of them, but only a certain percentage has to be moved. Mobile crane operators with knowledge and experience will verify all the information given to them before they begin their work.

Use Control Equipment

After inspecting the crane and the hydraulic system and verifying what they’re moving, a mobile crane operator can begin the work. This work consists mainly of picking up large and heavy items and relocating them to where they need to go. Inside the crane, they’re in charge of knowing how to maneuver the control equipment. This includes things like the wheel, foot pedals, and levers.

Each part of the control equipment has a specific task, and the crane operator uses them accordingly and in coordination with the other controls. It may be intimidating to some people that one lever can control hundreds of pounds of material, but with enough experience and training, this becomes second nature to a mobile crane operator.

Maintain Safety

Though a mobile crane operator is often alone in the cab, they’re almost never alone on the construction site. For this reason, it’s their responsibility to keep everyone on the construction site safe before, during, and after using their crane. When not used correctly, a mobile crane can be a very dangerous machine. Inspecting the machine beforehand is one way that they do this, but safety is of utmost importance at all times.

Operators will often take steps to make sure that no other machinery is in their path. They have to be sure to pick up and put down their materials safely, without hitting anything or anyone else. This may seem like an easy task, but remember how large the material and the machine that they’re dealing with is. Keeping everyone safe takes knowledge and skill to do correctly, and it’s an important part of every mobile crane operator’s job.

Drive the Mobile Crane

This may seem obvious, but driving it is undoubtedly an important step in being a mobile crane operator. There are many types of cranes, such as a tower crane or an overhead crane, but mobile cranes are one of the few of which the crane itself moves from one place to another. Driving the crane brings on a whole new dynamic to moving large materials, but it’s an integral part of many construction sites. To become a mobile crane operator, you have to feel comfortable being responsible for driving the crane as well as moving material using the crane.

Perform Minor Maintenance

A crane operator isn’t expected to fix large problems with the mobile crane, but they may be expected to do some minor maintenance. Things like cleaning and lubricating the crane are often responsibilities that come with being a mobile crane operator. They’re also responsible for small repairs that need to be done and noticing when something isn’t right with the crane. This kind of work becomes easier as you gain experience with the rig over time in your career.