How to Become a Licensed Mobile Crane Operator

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If you work with cranes on your construction site, you need to be a Certified Crane Operator (CCO). According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), every employer must be sure that the operators of their cranes are certified to handle such machinery.

Understanding the Exams

The National Commision for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) serves as the standard for crane operator certifications. In order to become certified as a mobile crane operator, you must take two types of exams: written and practical.

The written exam is broken into two parts.

  • A Core Examination of 90 multiple choice questions
  • At least one of the following written specialty exams for specific certification(s):
  • Lattice Boom Crawler Cranes (LBC) exam
  • Lattice Boom Truck Cranes (LBT) exam
  • Telescopic Boom Cranes -- Swing Cab (TLL) exam
  • Telescopic Boom Cranes -- Fixed Cab (TSS) exam

The practical examination requires candidates to demonstrate their operational abilities. The practical exam that you choose to take should correspond to the written specialty exam(s) that you took so that your certification in one (or multiple) crane area(s) can be completed. Practical exams can be taken in one of the following crane types:

  • Lattice Boom Crane (covers both LBC and LBT)
  • Telescopic Boom Crane -- Swing Cab (covers TLL)
  • Telescopic Boom Crane -- Fixed Cab (covers TSS)

The written and practical exam(s) can be taken in any order, as long as both are taken in the same 12-month period. Keep in mind that these examinations are specific to those who wish to become certified as operators of mobile cranes -- other crane certifications are available.

Know the Requirements

Before you take the written or practical exams, be sure that you comply with the following requirements and have previous crane operation experience -- the NCCCO certification is meant for operators who have site experience and training.

  • Be 18 or older
  • Meet all NCCCO medical requirements
  • Be in accordance with the Substance Abuse Policy
  • Understand and follow the NCCCO Code of Ethics
  • Complete the NCCCO Physical Examination Form (the form is valid for three years)
  • Posses a DOT (Department of Transportation) Medical Examiner's Certificate (certificate is valid for two years)

Be Prepared to Recertify

CCO certification from the NCCCO is valid for five years from the time the final exam requirement -- whether written or practical -- is completed. If, during the five-year certification period, you become certified in another crane specialty area, the expiration of that certification will still remain the same as your original certification. This means that all of your crane operator certifications expire on the same date.

However, this policy does not apply to any certifications you receive in the last 2 years of your certification period. Otherwise, all official qualifications must be recertified with NCCCO after 5 years. It is important to remember that your recertification process has to be completed within the last full year of your 5 year certification period.

Preparing for Certification

There are resources for those who wish to prepare, study, and train for their crane operator certification exams. Crane Services, Inc. offers classes that will prepare you for your NCCCO exams. Make sure to find out when CCO exams are being offered and where the most convenient location is for you.

Crane Services, Inc. is dedicated to the values of crane operation safety. All of our employees are fully NCCCO certified and prepared to operate our cranes safely on your site. If you’re certified, call Crane Services, Inc. at (800) 233-2763 to find out which crane your site needs. If you need to become certified, contact Todd Brown at (505) 877-1100 to learn more about how Crane Services, Inc. can help you with your training.