How To Get a Crane Operator License

Cabin of the construction crane

In some states a license or certification course is needed before crane operators are hired and paid wages to operate a tower crane, crane overhead, construction crane, or mobile crane. Crane safety and compliance to standards is very important.

Licensing is different from a certification since it is a mandatory governmental requirement needed before an operator can practice his occupation or profession. For a crane operator to get a license, he needs to take an examination and complete the appropriate training course and experience required.

The following states require a crane operator license before hiring crane operators: Connecticut, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Washington, Utah, and West Virginia. These states and the cities of Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Omaha, and Washington, DC also license operators.

To ensure you are aware of the latest administrative procedures and information on licensing in the listed 6 cities and 18 states that license, periodically check your respective state or city sites or you may check the links provided at this site:

For a crane operator certification, a non-government agency can issue a certificate to individuals in recognition of verified knowledge and skills after voluntarily completing a course requirement. If an employer requires a certification for employment, or a federal agency or the state makes the certification a basis for a licensing program, it then becomes mandatory. New Jersey and West Virginia are the two states that require a (Certification of Crane Operators) CCO certification program.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) is the non-profit organization that has developed the performance standards effective for safe crane operations in construction and various industries. It is able to provide an independent and thorough assessment of the skills and knowledge of individuals applying for a certification. The organization continually stimulates training, and improves the standards for lifting equipment and crane safety, checks performance records, reduces workplace risks, and gives due recognition to crane operator professionals. You can refer to this site for a list of the cities and states that require or recognize NCCCO certifications.

Though there is no license required for crane operators to work in offshore oilrigs, most employers still require crane operators to take refresher courses and be certified. The company imposes this requirement to reduce company liability should any accident occur. Federal OSHA regulations are followed and since these constantly change, being certified by an association like the NCCCO makes a crane operator secure.

To work and receive a license for operating a crane for the Naval Construction Force (NCF), applicants should complete 40 hours of formal instructions on crane safety in the classroom and several hours of training before a license is issued according to the Naval standards provided.

It is best to complete a certification program first and take the necessary training course from an authorized institution like the NCCCO to get a license as a tower crane, crane overhead, construction crane, or mobile crane operator. Take the needed refresher courses and renew your license as needed, and you will qualify for better wages.


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