At Didac, we often get asked for employment advice on becoming a crane operator and what the job prospects are like. There are many different types of cranes found in industry serving different purposes so the answer to the question requires us to understand what type of crane we are talking about.

When someone asks for employment advice on becoming a crane operator, I assume the person is referring to a job role that revolves primarily around crane operation. This does in fact narrow it down a bit.

Job roles primarily based on crane operation

Before we get into these crane types, it should be noted that Didac do not deliver training for tower crane or portside container handling cranes (which differ from overhead container cranes, confusing I know).

The information contained here is purely my understanding of cranes in industry and should form the basis of your research only.

Tower crane

Commonly found in the construction industry, tower cranes are those cranes you see towering above a city skyline, hence the name. The operator would likely be positioned in a cab at the top of the crane so you’d better not suffer from vertigo.

It is my assumption that operating a tower crane is quite a specialist skill upon which an offer of employment might be based i.e. your job role could be defined as a tower crane operator. Your actual role would likely require you to complete other tasks but fundamentally the role might be operating the tower crane.

Container handling crane

Commonly found in ports, container handling cranes are used to offload shipping containers from cargo vessels. Again, the operator would likely be positioned in a cab some distance off the ground where he would remain and unload ships as they come in to port.

It is the position of the cab on both these cranes that somewhat leads me to assume that the job role would be based more around operating the crane than anything else. Since you’re unlikely to hop in to the cab for a 2 minute job, you’d probably find that when the crane operator is needed, that he or she is needed for some time.

Job roles where crane operation is secondary

For many crane operators, operating the crane is part of a wider job role i.e. you would not be employed solely as a crane operator but as a worker who operates a crane as part of their job.

Overhead Crane

Overhead crane is a generalisation used to describe a number of different crane types that are all fairly similar including:

Good news! Didac provide training for all of these crane types

Overhead cranes are commonly found in factories, manufacturing facilities or other industrial working environments. As an example, operators may be required to use the crane to move items down a production line but this would not be the core function of the job role.

Being a trained overhead crane operator, although it would look good on a job application and score you a few point, would not necessarily be the crux of a job offer. By the same notion, not being trained to operate an overhead crane should not have an extreme adverse effect on your job prospects when applying for a role.

Most employers would want to employ the right person, investing in training to deliver the right skills to that person, as opposed to employing the wrong person because they have some of the right skills and they can save a few quid on training.

Vehicle Mounted Crane aka Lorry Loader aka HIAB

Find the job, then source the training

This is my advice every time.

There’s no point in paying for training which won’t allow you to get a job.

As we’ve established there are lots of different crane types and training is not always one size fits all; you’ll need to receive training for the specific crane type you’re required to operate.

There are also various training accreditations for different types of cranes. Some industry sectors favour or only accept a particular accreditation so you need to be sure you have the right accreditation for the job i.e. OPITO in the offshore industry or perhaps CPCS in construction.

What are the job prospects?

I really couldn’t say. I’d be making it up.

What kind of pay can you expect?

Again, I really don’t know. The one way to find out is to get online, get on job boards and find some job adverts.

By Chris James.