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The Essential Guide to Becoming a Crane Operator

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Learning the complex art of crane operation is one of the more challenging training pathways in the construction industry. Dealing with new technology and complex lifts can make the prospect seem daunting to many, especially if you’re unsure of what you need to know. However, this just means that it’s all the more rewarding when you’ve mastered the skills necessary to progress in a successful career.

Crane jib

What Does a Crane Operator Do?

As a qualified operator, you will be responsible for the safe operation, control and maintenance of all types of cranes. Duties will include:

● Conducting daily machine safety checks.

● Setting up and operating various types of cranes.

● Moving loads around the site according to plan or schedule.

● Monitoring crane stability and load weights.

● Working with a banksman to ensure site safety.

● Conducting minor repairs on machinery.

● Reporting any issues to your supervisor.

● Keeping records of the materials you’ve moved.

● Ensuring that travel routes are clear for safe lifting.

What Skills Do I Need to be a Crane Operator?

The following are the key skills that any prospective crane operator should possess:

● A solid understanding of operating and maintaining machinery.

● Good team working skills.

● Patience and the ability to remain calm in high-pressure situations.

● Keen attention to detail.

● Spatial awareness.

How Much Can I Expect to Learn?

The expected salary for a crane operator varies depending on experience.

● Trainees or newly trained crane operators: £17,000 - £20,000

● Trained crane operators with some experience: £20,000 - £35,000

● Senior crane operators: £35,000+

Hours and salary can depend on your location, employer and any overtime you do.

How Do I Become a Crane Operator?

Whilst there are no formal qualifications required to become a crane operator, there are several routes that can be taken. Some of these options have specific requirements to pursue them, however many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions with ease.

College/ Training

You’ll first need 4 - 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths.

You might have to attend a specialist college or training centre to learn to be a crane operator. There are certain qualifications, such as a Level 2 Certification in Plant Operations, which are completed in conjunction with learning on-the-job as an employee of the company.


You might want to consider completing a lifting technician intermediate apprenticeship with a construction company to kickstart your career as a crane operator. You’ll need GCSE qualifications, including English and Maths, to complete an intermediate apprenticeship.

Work Experience

You could acquire a job as a construction site labourer to gain first-hand experience using heavy plant machinery before training as a crane operator. Alternatively, you could apply directly to an employer for a job as a crane operator and learn under the supervision of an experienced driver.

High-Quality Training Opportunities from Crane & Lifting Services

Even fully qualified crane operators can benefit from training opportunities designed to broaden their skillset. At Crane & Lifting Services Ltd, we can upskill your workforce with overhead gantry crane training. Our courses will reduce the likelihood of accidents and ultimately increase the lifespan of your equipment by ensuring that all of your labourers have their overhead crane licence. For more information, please get in touch.

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