Crane Operator

Crane operators control a crane in order to hoist or transfer heavy objects from one level to another. They manoeuvre the crane in such a way that the load comes to a standstill in the required place.

In cases where the crane is mobile on tracks, the crane operator regulates the backward and forward movement. The operator needs to make sure that the cable does not jerk. The crane operator of an outdoor crane may be assisted by ground personnel by means of telephone or by hand signals.

Working conditions vary from place to place. The overhead crane operator is often exposed to the heat, smoke and gases of factories. Weather conditions have an influence on the outside worker. Modern cranes, however, have comfortable cabins.

Personal Requirements

A crane operator should:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • undergo a selection test before appointment
  • be responsible and reliable
  • be alert
  • be unaffected by the height at which he works
  • be patient and have perseverance
  • have good eyesight
  • have good eye-hand co-ordination as well as good coordination between right and left
  • have manual dexterity
  • be able to judge distances and heights accurately

How to Enter

School Subjects

Grade 10 Certificate.

What to Study

In-service training: The law requires all crane operators to be formally trained. Most of the larger organisations offer a bridging course after appointment. During this course aspirant crane operators receive a broad knowledge of the general activities in which they might be involved. This in-service training is either done by a training officer, a foreman or an experienced senior operator. During this initial stage crane operators will be under the supervision of a co-operator.

In certain instances crane operator training can only be performed by an organisation that has the approval of the chief inspector. When this is the case, the operators must pass a theory and practical test before they receive a valid certificate of training (licence) which entitles them to operate the crane on their own. They are required to be re-tested every two years to ensure they remain competent as crane operators.


  • building industry
  • Transnet
  • manufacturing industry
  • airports
  • construction sites
  • harbours

Further Information

Any of the above organisations.

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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