What does a crane operator do?
Crane operators use cranes to move materials over short distances in construction sites, warehouses, and factories. They operate mechanical boom and cable machines to lift and move materials, machinery, and other heavy items. They lengthen and retract booms that are mounted horizontally and raise and lower hooks that are attached to the lines of the load. Other workers usually direct crane operators by radio or hand signals. They arrange loads from a remote console at the work site or from a console on board the machine.
Crane operators typically work at a variety of construction sites and many work in metal fabrication, primary metal, and transportation equipment manufacturing industries that use materials that are very heavy and bulky. Some also work at major ports and load and unload large cargo on and off boats and ships.
What kind of training does a crane operator need?
Crane operators typically learn their skills through on the job training. Some employers require crane operators to have a high school diploma and pass a background check. New crane operators learn their skills by observing experienced workers. Some complete training or apprenticeship programs. The International Union of Operating Engineers offers apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs provide classroom instruction and paid on the job training. Approximately 15 states and 6 cities require crane operators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, but usually include passing a written and practical examination. Crane operators can gain voluntary certification for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.
What are the prospects for a career as a crane operator?
Employment of crane operators is expected to have little or no change, decreasing 1% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Equipment improves will decrease the demand for crane operators.
Job prospects are expected to be good because there is a large need to replace crane operators that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do crane operators make?
As of October 2009, the middle 50% of crane operators earn annual salaries between $33,192 and $50,320. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $58,557 (2).
A career as a crane operator is a great choice for people interested in the construction field and operating large machinery. Crane operators must have great eye-hand-foot coordination, the ability to judge a variety of distances, and a good sense of balance. They must have a mechanical aptitude and be able to perform basic maintenance on crane equipment. Crane operators must also be able to follow directions and safety procedures and be able to work effectively as part of a team. They must be willing to work in less desirable and sometimes dangerous conditions.