What Prior Education and Skills Are Needed to Become a Crane Operator?


Quick Answer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most crane operators need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Skills developed over several years of experience in related occupations can bolster a candidate's credentials, including mechanical skills, visual acuity, alertness and dexterity.

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What Prior Education and Skills Are Needed to Become a Crane Operator?
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Full Answer

Crane operators often start out as laborers and move on to equipment operation before specializing in cranes and other material-moving machines. Mechanical skills are often needed, as crane operators may need to service their machines on-site, and the ability to view and identify objects at a distance is essential for safe crane operation. Alertness and dexterity allow crane operators to react to changes in the work area and to ensure proper placement of materials handled by the machines.

Some states require crane operators to pass a certification exam that requires a skill demonstration before they can work on a construction site. This exam may require a written test that confirms understanding of Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration guidelines related to crane operation. The International Union of Operating Engineers helps aspiring crane operators develop skills and experience through apprenticeship programs, and these programs often include paid on-the-job training and instruction in OSHA and MSHA requirements.

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