Overhead Crane Safety Training and Certification Programs

Oct 26, 2019

Vocational programs, apprenticeships and individual courses are available to teach students how to be construction equipment operators, crane operators and tower operators.

Essential Information

Students in overhead crane operation programs learn about safety regulations set forth by state governments or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Programs may also prepare students to pass certification exams issued by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). Coursework generally takes 1-4 days to complete; online training options are also available.

Students do not need to meet any prerequisites to be admitted to these programs. However, some schools recommend that students have educational training or practical experience in crane operation. Completing training may help crane operators secure work, but it needs to be pursued through a reputable institution.

Overhead Crane Training and Certification Programs

Crane safety may be covered in construction safety or crane operation training programs. Depending on the length and scope of coursework, students in crane safety programs may study a range of topics. Some schools may even combine classroom instruction with field experiences. Training topics can include the following:

  • Hand signals
  • Power lines
  • Wire rope
  • Load charts
  • Crane maintenance
  • Basic rigging

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), crane and tower operators earned a median annual wage of $54,140 as of May 2018 ( A 5% increase in employment is expected from 2018 to 2028 because of increases in global shipping and the need for crane operators to load and unload cargo from ships.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Several states and a few cities require crane operators to be licensed, according to the BLS. In many cases, licensure requirements can be met by earning certification through the NCCCO ( Certifications are available for operators of mobile cranes, articulating cranes, tower cranes and overhead cranes. Overhead crane certification candidates must be at least 18 years old and adhere to substance abuse policies and a code of ethics. They must also pass written and practical examinations.

All overhead crane recertification candidates are required to take a 30-question, multiple-choice examination. Operators with at least 1,000 hours of work experience do not have to take a practical examination.

Students interested in continuing their studies can enroll in heavy equipment operator certificate, technical certificate in construction equipment or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs, such as an AAS in Heavy Equipment. Students learn how to operate such machinery as cranes, backhoes, bulldozers and graders. They can also prepare for supervisory positions in the construction industry.

Overall, there are a variety of safety training options for aspiring crane operators. After finishing this training, students can pursue licensure or enroll in an AAS program in a related field.

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