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Crane driver Crane operator

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Crane drivers operate lifting machinery on construction, quarrying and mining sites, at ports and in warehouses.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £36,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • experience of working on a construction site or using heavy plant machinery like excavators
  • a valid Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card
  • a college qualification in plant operations - this can be done through on-the-job training
  • a category C1 or C LGV licence if driving mobile cranes on public roads

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship if you also get the plant operations college qualification and the CPCS card. You’ll usually need at least 4 GCSEs or equivalent, including maths and English, to apply.

CITB and Go Construct have more information on becoming a crane driver.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • communication skills
  • the ability to work alone for long periods
  • teamworking skills
  • the ability to work flexibly

3. What you'll do

You’ll work on mobile, overhead or tower cranes.

On a building site, you’ll lift and move construction materials and equipment safely by operating the controls in the crane cab.

You’ll be in constant radio contact with workers on the ground, who’ll be giving you instructions on what to move and where. 

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • setting up cranes and carrying out safety checks
  • loading and unloading lorries
  • shifting loads around the site
  • monitoring sensors that measure wind speed, crane stability and load weights
  • carrying out minor repairs to machinery
  • reporting any problems to the crane supervisor
  • keeping records of the materials you’ve moved
You could also work in open-cast mining and quarrying, moving earth and rock out of the way to get to the raw materials underneath.

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £20,000 (trainee)

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £36,000 or more

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work around 35 to 40 hours a week but overtime may be required to meet construction deadlines.

You’ll spend much of your time alone working in the crane cab. On a tower crane, this could be very high up. You’ll travel from site to site when working on a mobile crane.

Safety equipment, including ear protectors, is essential.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and a Level 3 or 4 NVQ Diploma in Lifting Operations, you could become a crane supervisor, directing operations.
After further training you may be able to work as a site manager, with responsibility for the day-to-day running of a construction or quarrying site.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018