Crane operators operate cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations. They are employed by construction, industrial, mining, cargo handling and railway companies.

Main duties 
Crane operators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Operate mobile and tower cranes to lift, move, position or place equipment and materials
  • Perform pre-operational inspection, and calculate crane capacities and weight to prepare for rigging and hoisting
  • Operate pile driving cranes to drive pilings into earth to provide support for buildings and other structures
  • Operate cranes equipped with dredging attachments to dredge waterways and other areas
  • Operate gantry cranes to load and unload ship cargo at port side
  • Operate locomotive cranes to move objects and materials at railway yards
  • Operate bridge or overhead cranes to lift, move and place plant machinery and materials
  • Operate offshore oil rig cranes to unload and reload supply vessels
  • Operate cranes mounted on boats or barges to lift, move and place equipment and materials
  • Operate dragline cranes to expose coal seams and ore deposits at open pit mines
  • May assemble tower cranes on site
  • Perform routine maintenance work such as cleaning and lubricating cranes.

Employment requirements

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • Completion of a one- to three-year apprenticeship program or
  • High school, college or industry courses in crane operating are usually required.
  • Mobile crane operators may require a provincial licence to drive mobile cranes on public roads.
  • Internal company certification as a crane operator may be required by some employers.
  • Interprovincial trade certification (Red Seal) is also available to mobile crane operators.

Additional information 

  • Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.
  • Red Seal trade certification for mobile crane operators allows for interprovincial mobility.