Crane operators (NOC 7371)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Crane operators run cranes or draglines to lift, move and position heavy objects, such as building materials or machinery at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and similar locations.

People in this occupation:

  • work for construction, industrial, mining, cargo handling and railway companies and contractors
  • have an interest in technology and mechanics
  • should have good eyesight and excellent eye-hand coordination
  • should have good concentration and stamina since they may be required to work at heights and spend extended periods inside the cab of their crane
Common job titles
  • opearator, electrical equipment - derrick
  • operator, boat crane / boom crane
  • operator, bridge crane
  • operator, climbing crane
  • operator, construction / pile driving crane
  • operator, crane and hoisting equipment


Crane operators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • operate mobile, tower or hydraulic cranes to lift equipment and materials
  • do pre-operational inspection and calculate crane capacities and weight to prepare for rigging and hoisting
  • run pile driving cranes 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
  • run locomotive cranes to move objects and materials at railway yards
  • operate bridge or overhead cranes to lift, move and place plant machinery and materials
  • run 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
  • run dragline cranes to expose coal seams and ore deposits at open pit mines
  • do routine maintenance work such as cleaning and lubricating cranes
  • may assemble tower cranes on site

Work environment

Workers in this occupation typically work a standard 40-hour week. Overtime work may also be required during peak construction periods. Large construction projects and resource industry jobs sometimes require workers to relocate to remote work sites for periods of time.

Crane operators generally work outdoors, but work is conducted inside a covered control cab. They may also work at heights.

Crane operators must be able to handle the stress of responding to hand signals and/or radio instructions while manipulating multiple controls in situations that often have slim margins for error. They must be able to communicate clearly with a ground crew, properly calculate loads and stay aware of electrical wiring the crane may come in contact with. In addition, they must be able to handle sudden changes in the pace of work since they may have to wait for long periods before the crane is needed. All crane operators follow safety regulations to reduce the risk of hazards.

Working conditions have changed in recent years, as newer cranes now have many features that make them much more comfortable than older models, such as improved seats, soundproof cabs and hydraulic or electric over hydraulic controls.

Insights from industry

The majority of new job openings will come from the need to replace retiring workers. Over the longer term, employment growth is expected to be average.

Demand for these workers depends largely on growth in the Construction industry. Crane operators mainly work in the Construction industry. Government funding for capital projects is expected be an important source of industrial and engineering construction work, which may positively affect job opportunities for crane operators.

Technological advances, such as the increased use of robotics and computer controls, will likely affect skill requirements, but will not change the overall demand for crane operators.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Crane operators may begin their careers as construction labourers or they may enter the work force directly as apprentices. With experience, crane operators can advance to supervisory positions. They may also choose to become estimators or dispatchers.

Additional resources