Crane Operator Skills: What It Takes To Get The Job Done

Crane operators have one of the most skilled jobs that carry some of the greatest responsibility of any on the worksite. They need to lift thousands of pounds of material using an incredibly powerful and expensive piece of equipment. And they must handle it with precision. Even having the best possible crane on your site doesn’t mean much if the person handling it doesn’t have the necessary crane operator skills. At worst, it can lead to life-threatening situations.

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These undervalued individuals need to be skilled, responsible and have a proven record of working with cranes. To help you make sure you land that individual, let’s look at what it takes to do a crane operator’s job.

Physical condition

Since operating a crane (and working on a construction site in general) is inherently strenuous, crane operators need to be up to the task. They should be cleared from any health conditions that might cause them to lose consciousness or control of their bodies.

They also need to have good eyesight as well as hand-eye coordination in order to make precise movements. Good hearing is also a must to be able to communicate on a noisy job site.

Experience using specific types of cranes

Using commercial construction equipment is a finely-honed ability that takes some time to perfect. The more experienced a crane operator is, the higher their level of skill should be. However, there are different types of cranes, so it’s important to consider their experience with different models.

For example, operating a stationary tower crane is completely different from operating a small truck crane. Even the same type of crane operates differently depending on their size, boom type, and capacity. The same goes for different types of worksites. So, make sure your operator has some relevant experience there as well.

Used to working in challenging conditions

Heavy equipment on construction site

Working on a construction site is no mean feat. Worksites are dusty, loud, and potentially dangerous. Construction can also go on for a long period of time which may mean extreme weather or seasonal changes.

Crane operators need to be able to do their job calmly and professionally in environments like this. Being focused and following orders in these types of conditions is challenging. Operators usually develop this skill as they gain experience by working on various sites in various conditions.

Personal crane operator skills

As we mentioned, a construction site is a challenging environment. Crane operators need to be able to shrug off the challenges and continue with their job. To do so requires a tremendous amount of discipline, especially when long hours are involved.

However, they also need to be able to follow workplace instructions to the letter. Whether there is a better way to do something or not, a foreman knows what is going on across the entire site. It’s his responsibility to make sure everyone works in tandem. As a powerful and potentially dangerous piece of equipment, there can be no surprises with a crane.

That being said, a crane operator should know when to say “no” too. As the operator, they need to know whether conditions have become unsafe, something just isn’t possible to do, or it is beyond their abilities. Not doing so can lead to dangerous situations.

Lastly, crane operators need to take responsibility for their crane and inspect it frequently for damage or malfunctions and report this ASAP.

Certification and training

It used to be the case that crane operators only needed to be licensed or certified to operate in certain cities or states. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration addressed concerns about this with new crane operator requirements put into effect in 2018.

These require a crane operator to be certified by “type, or type and capacity.” The requirements also place the responsibility of making sure an operator is able to handle a crane safely on the employer (crane rental company).

Construction workers discussing

Crane operators can now get accredited certification at organizations like the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). It’s also possible to get certified through on-the-job training programs and apprenticeships.

A crane is only as good as its operator

In most cases, you will agree to a package deal that comes with a crane and an operator. As such, the crane rental company will be responsible for assigning an operator. This is someone who will be an integral part of your operation, so it’s crucial that you go with a crane company that only hires the best crane operators.

Be sure the crane rental company provides you with an operator who has relevant experience with the crane and worksite they will be assigned to. At B&M Tower, we only work with professionals who have proven, hands-on experience. Where required, our operators will have the relevant work experience and certification to be an asset to your team.

Find the right crane rental company, and you can rest assured of someone with the right crane operator skills for your job.


260 N Fenway Drive
Fenton, MI 48430


(810) 299-2862


Mon-Fri: 8am – 6pm
24/7 Emergency Services Available!

Our Office

260 N Fenway Drive
Fenton, MI 48430

Contact Us

(810) 299-2862

Office Hours

Mon-Fri: 8am – 6pm
24/7 Emergency Services Available!

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