Crane Operator Questions

Naturally you have many questions about crane training and crane operator certification. Will all crane operators need to be certified nationwide? How do I become a certified crane operator in California? What is the difference between cranes in general industry vs. construction? How can I get the training I need to get into the lifting industry? Below you’ll find the answers to commonly asked questions in this industry.

OSHA has recently revamped requirements for crane operators and signalpersons, replacing the 1971 regulations. This new requirement is outlined under 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC (unofficially known as C-DAC), was developed over a 12-month period and submitted to OSHA in 2004.

Under the new rule, crane operators must be either certified by an accredited crane operator testing organization, such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) or Crane Institute Certification (CIC) or NCCER or the Operating Engineers Union, or qualified by an audited employer program, depending on lift capacities and job classification. State programs that meet federal requirements, and programs run by the U.S. military are also recognized in the new standard which retains most of the language contained in the Proposed Rule issued in 2008.

The new regulation also requires the operators of service truck mounted cranes to be certified if said crane is “involved in construction.” (Please keep in mind that “involved in construction” is defined by how the machinery is used. For example, a delivery truck that simply unloads in a common area is not defined as such. However, a delivery vehicle that delivers, say, an air conditioner unit to an upper floor of a building is said to be “involved in construction.”)

  1. Must be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Must have a current DOT medical examiners physical examination card. If the candidate does not have a current medical examiners card, he/she will have to have a physical examination completed.
  3. Must comply with NCCCO’s substance abuse policy.
  4. Must be able to read English at an eighth grade reading level. (ASME B30.5 requires a crane operator to be able to read the load chart and operator’s manual of the crane).
  5. Must be able to do basic arithmetic, i.e. adding multiple numbers, subtraction, multiplication and know times tables up to 9’s. Calculators are not permitted during the written exams.

Operators of cranes with capacities of 2,000 lbs or more will need to be certified if employed in construction. Certification must be completed by an accredited crane operator testing organization, such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) or Crane Institute Certification (CIC) or NCCER or the Operating Engineers Union. Operators of cranes outside the construction industry or of machines rated for 2,000 lbs or less may require qualification. Qualification differs in that operators can be “qualified” through an audited employer program [1926.1427(a)].

Please keep in mind that “involved in construction” may include any crane used on a jobsite, including cranes mounted on delivery trucks, depending on how a piece of machinery is used.

Section 1926.1427 of the new rule describes crane operator certification/qualification requirements. Option 1, which is anticipated to be the most commonly used, requires operators to be certified by a nationally accredited crane operator testing organization that tests operators through both written and practical testing—such as the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) or Crane Institute Certification (CIC). The organizations provide levels of certification based on equipment capacity and type.

The standard defines a crane as “power-operated equipment that, when used in construction, can hoist, lower and horizontally move a suspended load” [1926.1401].

The exclusion for cranes of 2,000 lbs. and below refers to the maximum manufacturer-rated capacity. Even if you lift lighter loads, it is the crane’s maximum-rated capacity that must be 2,000 lbs. or less for you to be exempt from the requirements of 1926.1427. Employers are still responsible for training their operators on the safe operation of the type of equipment they will be using [1926.1441(e)].

If crane work does not fall under one of the special standards, such as Construction or Maritime, then OSHA usually considers it to fall under general industry (29 CFR 1910.180). OSHA generally considers construction to include the building, altering, or repairing of new or existing structures. Maintenance may also be considered construction depending on its complexity and scope. Delivery of materials and supplies may fall under the “construction” umbrella as well if the materials are manipulated in such a way as to make the construction crews’ job easier (such as delivering lumber to a second-story construction rather than simply dropping it on the ground). Since similar work can fall into either category depending on the exact nature of the job, the general rule is: Go with the stricter standard.

Nationwide Crane Training affectionately calls our Riverside, California training and testing facility “Crane Boot Camp.” This facility was designed with state-of-the-art technology (including computer simulators) and real world equipment to take an operator through the training and certification process quickly and easily.

While NCT works with experienced operators, the programs offered at Crane Boot Camp were specifically tailored toward individuals with no training or operational experience to speak of. The curriculum and training pace allows new candidates fresh off the street (so to speak) to be fast-tracked them through the process toward certification—certification that allows them to dramatically increase their job prospects and earning potential.

The combination of expert trainers, state of the art facility simulators, and a complete line of equipment (Articulating Cranes, Service Trucks, Small Telescopic, Large Telescopic and Lattice Cranes) makes this hard-core training possible.

The certification is good for 5 years. After 5 years you are required to retake the written tests, which is half of the initial tests. Candidates who are currently certified must begin the recertification process in the 12 month period prior to when their current certification expires.

Written Exam scores are received by the candidate approximately 12 business days after they take the exam. Final scoring for the Practical Exam is delivered approximately 12 business days after exam score sheets are received.

If you’re an individual, you can take the exams at one of our open enrollment classes across the USA (Alabama, California, Iowa & Texas) or at our Riverside, California facility.

If you’re an employer who needs to certify a large group of operators at once, we can either administer the exam at your facility, one of our many open enrollment classes across the USA (Alabama, California, Iowa & Texas), or here at our Riverside, California crane school, depending on the size of the group

Yes, we can test on your equipment in your yard if you are scheduling a private class of 6 or more candidates. Otherwise, your options include:

  • Any of our open enrollment classes (they’re rotated every 3 months between Alabama, California, Iowa & Texas in order to make them easy to attend)
  • Our Riverside, California or Iowa facilities using our equipment (once a month)

Certified operators receive a plastic photo ID card at no cost when they certify for the first time and when they complete the requirements for re certification. CCO Cards can take up to 30 days.

If candidates change their address they must notify CCO as soon as possible. Failure to do so may cause candidates to miss important updates on the CCO program that could affect their certification.