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How to become a Crane Operator

Crane Operators are responsible for safely operating machinery such as mobile cranes, hoists, lifts and winches. They can lift, move and use equipment, tools, materials, and even people. They work on a variety of sites, including construction sites, mining operations, factories, shipyards, factories, and more.

If you enjoy a challenge and want a job that has lots of variety, this could be the perfect career for you.


About you:


  • Practical and hands-on
  • Good problem solver
  • Great communicator
  • Excellent awareness
  • Quick reflexes and a steady hand
  • Willing to work on your feet
  • Safety conscious
  • Work well in teams and alone


The job:


  • Moving cranes into the appropriate position
  • Operating cranes to lift and position objects
  • Ensuring safety procedures are followed strictly
  • Maintaining equipment and machinery
  • Performing site inspections to determine suitability
  • Following directions from and working with workers on the ground
  • Ensuring loads are within the weight limit


Lifestyle Impact: Moderate


  • Part Time opportunities: Very low – only around 10% of Crane Operators work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 50 hours a week, which is above average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Crane Operators’ salary (median) $99,000* per year (source: ato.gov.au). *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Stable (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • You will be doing most of your work on-site, with almost no availability for remote work or working from home.
  • You might need to work overtime or weekends to meet deadlines.


Crane Operators are most in demand in these locations:


This is a fairly large occupation, with around 13,200 people working as Crane Operators in Australia in 2021 (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au). There is higher demand for Crane Operators in regional and rural areas than the average job. Most Crane Operators work in the Construction and Manufacturing industries.


How to become a Crane Operator


While formal qualifications aren’t strictly necessary, there are several licenses you’ll need to obtain to work as a Crane Operator.


Step 1 – Complete Year 10 with a focus on English and Maths.


Step 2 – Obtain several licenses from Safe Work Australia, including a white card, high risk work licenses and working at heights accreditation.


Step 3 – You will probably need to obtain Heavy Combination (HC) and Heavy Rigid (HR) class driver’s licenses.


Step 4 – You might also like to consider completing a Certificate III in Construction Crane Operations or similar VET course.


Step 5 – With lots of experience and knowledge, you might even like to start your own business.


Find out more here –




Similar Careers to Crane Operator



Forklift Driver


Truck Driver


Train Driver

Site Supervisor

WH&S Officer


Find out more about alternative careers.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What do Crane Operators do?


Crane Operators are responsible for safely operating cranes, lifts, hoists, and other heavy lifting equipment.


Which industries employ Crane Operators?


Crane Operators are mostly employed in the Construction and Manufacturing industries.


What options are there for career progression?


You might start out working with smaller cranes and less complicated projects, before gaining experience and further qualifications and moving onto huge, large-scale projects, working with complex machinery.


Do I need to go to university to become a Crane Operator?


No, but there are other qualifications and licenses you’ll need to obtain.


Where do Crane Operators work?


Crane Operators work in a variety of construction and manufacturing settings, including building sites, factories, mining operations, ship and trainyards, and more.


What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Crane Operator?


If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Crane Operator is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Consider undertaking a pre-apprenticeship or VET in School course while you’re still at high school. It can give you a feel for the work and even a head-start on your future qualifications.
  2. See if you can find work experience in construction or manufacturing. This will help you get an insight into the industry, and can help you start building important contacts for the future.
  3. Talk to a Crane Operator to see what a day in their life is like. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can watch videos or documentaries about a career as a Crane Operator.

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