a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Crane Operator

Also known as Crane Operator, Heavy Equipment Operator, Machine Operator, Mobile Crane Operator, Overhead Crane Operator, Port Crane Operator, Scrap Crane Operator, Winchman/Crane Operator, Woodyard Crane Operator

Crane Operator

Also known as Crane Operator, Heavy Equipment Operator, Machine Operator

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$34,170 - $95,820 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Transportation
Core tasks
  • Determine load weights and check them against lifting capacities to prevent overload.
  • Move levers, depress foot pedals, or turn dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.
  • Inspect and adjust crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.
Is Crane Operator the right career path for you?

Would Crane Operator be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Crane Operator and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Crane Operator do?

Crane Operators operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines, or products in many directions.

What kind of tasks does a Crane Operator perform regularly?

Crane Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Determine load weights and check them against lifting capacities to prevent overload.
  • Move levers, depress foot pedals, or turn dials to operate cranes, cherry pickers, electromagnets, or other moving equipment for lifting, moving, or placing loads.
  • Inspect and adjust crane mechanisms or lifting accessories to prevent malfunctions or damage.
  • Inspect cables or grappling devices for wear and install or replace cables, as needed.
  • Direct helpers engaged in placing blocking or outrigging under cranes.
  • Clean, lubricate, and maintain mechanisms such as cables, pulleys, or grappling devices, making repairs, as necessary.
  • Load or unload bundles from trucks, or move containers to storage bins, using moving equipment.
  • Review daily work or delivery schedules to determine orders, sequences of deliveries, or special loading instructions.

The above responsibilities are specific to Crane Operators. More generally, Crane Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Crane Operator salary?

The median salary for a Crane Operator is $59,710, and the average salary is $64,010. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Crane Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Crane Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Crane Operators earn less than $34,170 per year, 25% earn less than $44,270, 75% earn less than $76,190, and 90% earn less than $95,820.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Crane Operators is expected to change by 5.4%, and there should be roughly 5,000 open positions for Crane Operators every year.

Median annual salary
$59,710
Typical salary range
$34,170 - $95,820
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
5.4%

What personality traits are common among Crane Operators?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Crane Operator are usually higher in their Realistic and Conventional interests.

Crane Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Crane Operators typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Crane Operator tend to value Support, Independence, and Relationships.

Most importantly, Crane Operators strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Crane Operators moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Crane Operators somewhat value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Crane Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, attention to detail, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Crane Operators, ranked by importance:

Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Crane Operators need?

Crane Operators often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Crane Operators usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Crane Operators

  • 10.6% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 55.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 22.6% completed some college coursework
  • 6.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 3.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Crane Operators

Crane Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, mathematics, or transportation knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Crane Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Building and Construction
Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

Important Abilities needed by Crane Operators

Crane Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Crane Operators need abilities such as control precision, multilimb coordination, and depth perception in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Crane Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Depth Perception
The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.
Reaction Time
The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.

Critical Skills needed by Crane Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Crane Operators frequently use skills like operation and control, operations monitoring, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Crane Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.