There are three types of cranes: boom trucks, tower cranes and mobile cranes.
Careers in Skilled Trades: Crane Operators
Are you good with your hands? Do you have strong depth perception and good communication skills? Would you like working with machines? Do you like travel? Can you work in high places?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Crane Operator could be right for you.
Crane operators control cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations.
They are employed by construction, mining, shipbuilding, railway and crane rental companies.
As a Crane Operator, your duties may include the following:
- Operating cranes to lift, move or place equipment and materials
- Inspecting cranes and calculating capacities
- Assembling tower cranes on-site
- Performing routine crane maintenance such as cleaning and lubricating
There are three types of cranes: boom trucks, tower cranes and mobile cranes. Boom trucks and mobile cranes are broken down further into specialized crafts.
Some operators work with all three types, while others choose to specialize:
- Heavy boom truck path – set up, service and operate hydraulic booms that are capable of moving heavy loads of 18 tonnes or more
- Medium boom truck path – set up, service and operate hydraulic booms that are capable of moving heavy loads weighing between 4.5 tonnes and 18 tonnes
- Wellhead boom truck path – set up, service and operate hydraulic booms
- Tower crane path – service and operate travelling, fixed or climbing-type cranes with a vertical tower and a jib (protecting arm)
- Mobile crane path – service and operate booms that are mounted on either mechanically or hydraulically driven cranes, and are capable of lifting heavy loads of 13 tonnes or more
- Conventional mobile crane path – perform the same duties as the mobile crane path, but you will be limited to mechanically driven cranes
- Hydraulic mobile crane path – perform the same duties as the mobile crane path, but are limited to hydraulically driven cranes
The standard work week for crane operators is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.
As a Crane Operator, you will work outdoors, often in noisy conditions. You may have to travel to various job sites and occasionally live away from home for long periods of time.
Crane operators work closely with other equipment operators and with ground crew.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Crane operators are trained to work safely and take special precautions to protect against injury.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Crane Operator, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 50 per cent of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for crane operator apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must have a Grade 10 education or equivalent to enter a crane operator program.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Crane Operator.