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How to Become a Certified Mobile Crane Operator


A certificate in mobile crane operation will allow you to use a crane on building and construction sites to move heavy material. The job can be rewarding and meticulous, so it requires a significant amount of preparation and professional training. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about becoming a certified mobile crane operator.

How long does it take to become a crane operator?

Becoming a crane operator can take anywhere from a couple months to a couple years depending on the training program and the type of crane you wish to operate.  Most certification training courses last from 4-8 weeks. However, to actually become a full-time professional crane operator, employers look for 2-5 years of experience which is why you will need on the job training or an apprenticeship under a certified crane operator for a few years.

How much does a crane operator make per hour?

According to Indeed, a crane operator makes $20.23 per hour.  However, ZipRecruiter reports an average of $35 per hour. In fact, there are widely ranging estimates of salary for a crane operator and these ranges are mostly based on location and the experience of the operator. For example, a crane operator in New York City can make over $500,000 a year if you include overtime pay and benefits.

How much does it cost to get certified as a crane operator?

To become a certified crane operator, you will need to undergo training as well as take a written and practical exam.  Training costs will vary based on the method of training. If you choose to enroll in a special training school, like Total Equipment Training, tuition may cost from $1500 to $2500.  The tests themselves will also cost money, although not as much as a formal course.  On the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) website you can see the prices listed for the written, computer-based, and practical exams.  Exams range from $50 for a single type of crane practical exam to $283 for four different kinds of crane computer exams.  

Do you need a CDL to operate a crane?

If your job requires that you drive the crane on the open road, you will need a CDL

How do you become NCCCO certified?

First, you will need to qualify for the certification by being at least 18, passing the physical examination and agreeing to the substance abuse policy.  Next you will need to pass both a written and practical exam.  

Are Crane Operators in demand?

Crane operators are definitely in demand!  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an 8% growth rate is predicted between 2014 and 2024 for crane operator jobs.  This can be explained by the increase in high-tech infrastructure projects that require heavy lifting.  

Is being a crane operator dangerous?

Operating a crane is a safe job when the equipment is properly maintained and safety procedures are followed. The most dangerous parts of being a crane operator are electrical/power hazards, overloading, and falling materials.  All of these hazards can and should be managed through planning, preparation, adequate training, and safeguards.  

Should I become a crane operator?

Do you like working with heavy equipment? Do you have good depth perception? Are you a people person? Do you enjoy traveling? Are you good with your hands?  A career as a crane operator might be a good fit! As a crane operator you will have the opportunity to grow a stable, fulfilling, and challenging career.    

Total Equipment Training provides your employees with training they need to pass both the written and practical NCCCO crane operator certificate exams. Contact us today for a quote and for more information on how to tailor a crane training program for your needs, skill levels, and equipment.   


Most Common Mobile Crane Accidents and Their Solutions


5,147 workers were killed on the job in 2017 – on average, that is 98 workers a week, or more than 14 deaths every day. Accidents tend to happen when the project manager, site supervisor, the mobile crane operator, and workers on the ground fail to communicate. Accidents also occur when these personnel fail to follow safe operating procedures and safety checks. In order for accidents to be minimized, or even eliminated, on your job site we have analyzed some of the most common accidents and found preventative measures and mobile crane safety tips that are recommended for the safety of your team and care of your equipment.

Top Mobile Crane Accidents 

Lack of Fall Protection

In 2016, 384 out of 991 total deaths in construction occurred from workers falling and is considered one of the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA requires that fall protection is provided at elevations above four feet in general industry workplaces, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in the longshoring operations.

It is an employer’s responsibility to prevent workers from falling and to help prevent employees from being injured due to falls. Employers must:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk into (using a railing and toeboard or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guardrail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as onto a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings, and handrails.

Struck by Objects

The most common time to be struck by a crane load is during loading or unloading or caused during flagging, directing or guiding. Struck-by hazards are categorized into four categories: Flying Object, Falling Object, Swinging Object, and Rolling Object.

To avoid these types of job site hazards, be sure to look for the following signs:

  • Heavy equipment traffic
  • Working backup alarms
  • Poor visibility
  • Cranes with swing radius clearly marked
  • Spotters during backing up­­­­­­­­­

Power Line Electrocutions 

A crane can be a dangerous piece of equipment if not operated properly, especially when integrating outside variables such as electricity. Electrocution can happen from a variety of elements that your team should be aware of such as, foot touching/guiding loads cables, operating crane and foot touching crane that can result in shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions.

To prevent or eliminate this risk an employer can include the use of:

  • Insulation
  • Guarding
  • Grounding
  • Electrical Protective Devices
  • Safe Work Practices, such as….
    • Avoid working in wet working conditions
    • Avoid overhead powerlines
    • Use proper wiring and connectors
    • Use and maintain tools properly
    • Wear correct PPE to control electrical hazards

Mobile Cane Operating Training by Total Equipment Training 

By not only following these preventative practices, providing your personnel with accurate, on-site mobile crane training can help to reduce or eliminate the number of accidents that occur under your watch. With your team’s safety top of mind, a record of zero OSHA recordable accidents and over 16 years of experience, Total Equipment Training is committed to superior quality and results while serving as your reliable on-site heavy equipment training company.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can better equip your operators to prevent mobile crane accidents. It is never too early to ensure your workers’ safety.

Spring into Training; Are You OSHA Compliant?


It was a long, cold Winter in the Northeastern part of the United States. We wondered if we would ever see warm weather again. The end of March and beginning of April was a whirlwind of temperature changes and precipitation in all forms. As the weather begins to warm up, now is the time when people start spring cleaning and taking care of maintenance both inside and outside of their homes.

Spring is also the perfect time for companies to clean house and make sure they are compliant with all the safety rules and regulations which they are required to follow under OSHA and ASME guidelines. You do not want to be caught on a job or have an incident without the necessary proof of training for your equipment operators on file. Therefore, now is a great time to clean up your files and make sure they are all up to date and, if not, schedule required training for your employees. Do not sweep training under the rug; the fines are not worth it.

What Certification Does Your Crane Operator Need?

April and May have been busy months at Total Equipment Training scheduling training and NCCCO Certification for our existing and ever-expanding new clientele. After NCCCO announced “It’s Not Worth The Wait” program, our phones were steadily ringing from clients we currently provide Mobile Crane Operator Training asking if their employees need to be certified or if the operator training we have always provided covers them.

For now, it’s a fine line. All employers need to provide training and testing to make sure their operators are competent to operate any type of equipment. Our mobile crane training program is designed to be site and machine specific. The classroom portion of our program covers all OSHA and ASME regulations for each type of crane(s) you operate. The practical portion consists of making sure the operator is able to handle the piece of equipment safely and competently for the specific work they do.

Certain states and cities require certification through a third-party certification agency that is approved by OSHA. NCCCO is the golden standard. NCCCO certification differs in that it is not site specific. It explores in depth the responsibility of the crane operator, the lifts, the crane, etc. It is for the experienced operator who is expected to be able to operate a crane in all situations.

OSHA’s Deadline for Crane Operator Certification

OSHA has set a new deadline for November of 2018 that all crane operators must be certified through a recognized certifying agency. While the ruling has been postponed numerous times, all indications are the rule eventually will be passed.

The truth of the matter is, certification takes time. You can’t make a phone call and expect to test your employees that week. Once a decision to certify is made, it typically takes four weeks just to register for the test and have an examiner scheduled to come to your facility. Total Equipment Training’s trainers are required to be certified with the NCCCO as both operators and examiners.

The Importance of Having the Proper Crane Certifications

Cranes are used for so many things that so often go unnoticed and are taken for granted. As you drive along the Schuylkill Expressway, The New Jersey or Pennsylvania Turnpike, I95 New York to Virginia you see billboards, overpasses being repaired or built, buildings going up, —all which utilize cranes. Not having the proper certifications will virtually put a stop to building and repairing infrastructure.

On-Site Crane Operator Training in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania

So, where have we been these past few months? Our concentration has been in North Jersey areas including Paulsboro, Carteret, Long Island New York as well as Philadelphia areas including Camden. We provided NCCCO Certification for Energy Companies, Transit Authorities, and National Contracting Companies. These companies made the decision go ahead with the certification rather than wait to see the verdict of the OSHA Ruling. A fine decision in our opinion. Their operations will continue no matter what the ruling says. We feel it is in the best interest that, if you depend on a crane for your operations, you do not wait.

Does Your Organization Need Crane Operator Training?

Total Equipment Training will come to your site to provide whatever training or certification is needed. We have found that crane operators are more likely to pass the certification exam when they are trained using their own equipment which they are already familiar and comfortable with.

If you are interested in crane operator training, contact us today so we can go over your needs to create a training program specific to your requirements.