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Crane, hoist or lift operator

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Summary of occupation

Crane operators use cranes to lift and move heavy objects at locations such as construction sites, large-scale manufacturing operations, mine sites, wharves and other work sites. When setting up at a site, crane operators must check the condition of the ground, ensuring that it is firm and level, and for any potential obstacles, such as overhead powerlines. They must also be aware of the safe working limits of their crane, to ensure that loads are not too heavy and that the crane's reach is not over-extended. Crane operators often work closely with doggers, observing and following their directions to guide loads into position.

ANZSCO description: Operates stationary and mobile cranes, hoists, lifts and winches to lift, move and place materials, equipment and people in areas such as building sites, factories, mines, sawmills, wharves and shipyards. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Crane Driver, Crane Operator, Mobile Crane Operator
Specialisations: Braceperson, Chairlift Operator, Cherry Picker Operator, Elevated Work Platform Operator, Pile Driver, Portainer Operator, Tower Crane Operator, Winch Operator, Winding Engine Driver
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A crane operator needs:

  • good eyesight with the ability to judge distances
  • to be comfortable working at heights
  • to be safety conscious
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • good hand-eye coordination
  • the ability to follow verbal instructions
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Working conditions

Crane operators work at construction sites, warehouses, wharves, mine sites and manufacturing operations throughout Western Australia. They work in most weather conditions, except high wind and heavy rain, though they often operate the crane from within an enclosed cabin. Many crane operators work irregular hours, which can often include working nights and on weekends. This work can be hazardous and crane operators will have to follow strict safety guidelines to minimise the risks.

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Salary details

On average, crane, hoist and lift operators can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a crane, hoist and lift operator develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Crane operators may work with a range of different types of cranes, such as tower cranes, gantry cranes or mobile cranes, depending on the requirements of each job. Two-way or CB radios are often used to communicate with doggers and other workers on the site. Safety requirements often require crane operators to wear protective clothing, which can include a hardhat, overalls, high-visibility clothing and boots.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To work as a crane, hoist or lift operator in Western Australia, you must obtain a High Risk Work Licence for the specific class of crane you wish to operate, issued by WorkSafe.

In order to be issued a High Risk Work Licence, you must be at least 18 years old and complete a training course for the class of crane you wish to operate, conducted by TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The mobile crane operator traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.

Workers in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (commonly known as a “white card”). In Western Australia, training is conducted by registered training organisations authorised by WorkSafe

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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