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Crane operator

Also known as -

Crane driver

Crane operators are responsible for lifting and moving materials around a construction site as safely and efficiently as possible. As a crane driver you’d need to be practically-minded, with an understanding of how to drive and maintain heavy machinery.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a crane operator

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become a crane operator, there are several routes you could take to help you pursue this career. You could complete a college course or an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work.

You should explore these routes to becoming a crane operator, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) or Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) cards to work on a construction site.

College/training provider

You may have to attend a specialist college/training provider to train as a crane operator. You could complete a qualification, such as a Level 2 Certification in Plant Operations. This is usually done as part of learning on-the-job as an employee of a company.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


You could complete a lifting technician intermediate apprenticeship with a construction company to start your career as a crane operator.

You’ll need GCSE qualifications, including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


You could gain a job as a construction site labourer and gain experience using heavy plant machinery before training as a crane operator.

Alternatively, you could apply directly to an employer for a job as a crane operator and learn under the supervision of an experienced crane driver.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a crane operator. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Key skills needed for a crane operator include:

  • An understanding of how to use and maintain machines and tools
  • Good team working skills
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Attention to details
  • Good spatial awareness.


To become a crane operator you could complete a:

  • Level 2 NVQ in Construction Plant Operations
  • Level 2 Lifting Technician Apprenticeship

To become a crane operator you could complete a:

  • Level 5 SVQ in Plant Operations
  • Level 5 Apprenticeship in Plant Operations

To become a crane operator you could complete a:

  • Level 2 NVQ in Plant Operations
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Plant Operations

What does a crane operator do?

As a crane operator you will be responsible for the safe operation, control, and maintenance of cranes.

The job role of a crane operator includes the following duties: 

  • Conducting machine safety checks each day
  • Setting up cranes and operating them
  • Moving material around site according to a plan or schedule
  • Monitoring crane stability and load weights
  • Working with a banksman to ensure site safety
  • Making minor repairs to machinery
  • Reporting any issues to the supervisor
  • Keeping records of the materials you’ve moved
  • Ensuring that travel routes are clear
  • Working on-site, in noisy conditions.

How much could you earn as a crane operator?

The expected salary for a crane operator varies as you become more experienced.

  • Trainees and newly trained crane operators can earn £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained crane operators with some experience can earn £20,000 - £35,000
  • Senior crane operators can earn in excess of £35,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest crane operator vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As you gain more experience in your job as a crane operator, you could progress to become a crane supervisor or a banksman/slinger. You could complete a Level 3 or 4 NVQ in Lifting Operations on-the-job to improve your job prospects.

Alternatively, you could move into a more senior role as a foreman or site manager and take on responsibility for overseeing work carried out on a construction site.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Crane operator Operating a variety of machines to lift and move materials safely, discover how ...
    Read more
  • Current role Crane supervisor For those wanting to work as part of a team, crane supervisors oversee the lifti...
    Read more
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