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Crane Operators operate a variety of machines to lift and move materials, equipment or products, safely and efficiently.

Average salaries are in the region of £20,000.00 to £36,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Crane Operators work in a variety of environments. From removing earth and rock to clear space for buildings or for surface mining to transporting materials for high-rise construction projects, there are numerous industry opportunities for Crane Operators.

What does this role involve?

Crane Operators operate a variety of machines to lift and move materials, equipment or products, safely and efficiently. This could involve using tower, overhead or mobile cranes, and to drive and maintain these machines you'll need training, experience and regular testing.

Much of the working day is spent in the crane cab, which can be noisy so you need to use ear protection. Crane Operators are in constant communication with colleagues throughout the day and operate using radios or hand signals from the crew. 

Typical tasks include:

  • Controlling equipment with levers, wheels or foot pedals
  • Moving material according to a plan or schedule
  • Setting up and repairing equipment
  • Making minor repairs to machinery
  • Conducting  daily maintenance checks and reporting any issues to supervisor
  • Keeping records of material movement
  • Overhead crane operator ensuring that travel routes are clear, avoid lifting over other people, will often sling the loads themselves

How much could I earn?

  • Trainee and newly trained Crane Operators can earn in the region of £15,000 to £19,000
  • Trained with experience Crane Operators can earn in the region of £20,000 to £36,000
  • More experienced Crane Operators may earn in excess of £36,000

Salaries typically range depending on location and level of responsibility.

How many hours would I work?

In a full-time position, Crane Operators usually work between 35 and 40 hours per week. Working hours can vary and you may have to do some overtime in order to meet project deadlines.


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Qualifications & Training

What qualifications or subjects do I need for this role?

Although no formal entry qualifications are required to become a Crane Operator, it is generally recommended to achieve four GCSEs, including maths and English, at grade C or above, or their equivalents, such as the Welsh Baccalaureate or Scottish Nationals.

Do I need any previous experience?

While experience as a Crane Operator may not always be necessary, many employers will value construction site work experience in prospective employees.

Will I get any training for this job?

On-the-job training, including working under the supervision of an experienced Crane Operator, is a common route to becoming a proficient Crane Operator. This allows for the development of the specific skills and qualifications required for the role. Some machines are more complex than others and the time spent training will vary according to the type of machine.

Similarly, applying for a Crane Operation apprenticeship offers an alternative entry route into the profession. A combination of classroom-based theory and practical training will result in the attainment of a relevant NVQ/SVQ Diploma in Plant Operations and the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) Operator card.

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis.

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

Total Jobs 


The number of jobs vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

Career trends and forecasts

530 additional staff needed

The UK construction industry will need an additional 530 plant operatives every year to meet demand from now until 2019, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI).

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