construction crane against blue sky image by asiana from

How Much Does a Crane Operator Make on Average?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

If you're looking for an interesting career that allows you to make a big impact on the world around you, consider a job as a crane operator. These professionals use complex equipment to lift and transport extremely heavy items from one place to another, often during construction operations. If you stop and think about it, crane operators likely played a large role in many of the buildings and structures you see every day. If you're weighing the pros and cons of a variety of career paths, one factor you'll likely want to consider is the expected pay of each job. The salary for a crane operator varies, depending on experience and geographic location.

Job Description

As the name suggests, crane operators primarily use cranes to help transport heavy materials and equipment from place to place during construction jobs. They work a variety of shifts, depending on the needs of the project they're working on, and may even work overnight shifts. This is a highly specialized role found on many construction sites.

Education Requirements

Though education requirements vary from company to company, generally speaking, no formal education is required to become a crane operator. Some hiring managers may prefer a high school diploma or equivalent. Much of the training for this position comes on the job. If you want to boost your resume, there is such a thing as crane operator school – a quick internet search will help you find a program near you to earn a certificate.


A crane operator typically works in the construction industry. This job is often included as a subcategory of the field of material moving machine operators by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Years of Experience and Salary

If you're considering a career as a crane operator, you are likely curious about how much money you can make in this field. According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, crane operators make an average salary of $55,690 per year. This translates to an average hourly wage of $26.78.

Of course, wages vary depending on years of experience and the geographic location of the position. To get a higher crane operator salary, it may be advantageous to move to states that offer the highest-paying jobs. For example, the top-paying crane operator jobs can be found in New York, where the average salary is $103,530. The next highest-paying state for this field is New Hampshire, with an average annual salary of $90,380.

Job Growth Trend

If you're considering a career as a crane operator, you'll be excited to know that this field is expected to grow in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field of construction equipment operators will expand by 12 percent between now and 2026, which is faster than the expected growth rate of other professions. In real numbers, this means that an expected 52,700 new jobs will be created in this field in the coming years, which is good news if you are just entering the job market.


About the Author

Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor with a journalism degree from Northwestern University. She regularly writes about jobs, careers, side gigs, work-from-home jobs, workplace culture, saving for retirement, startups and saving money. Her work has appeared in Don't Waste Your Money, The Penny Hoarder, the Associated Press, the Denver Post and other publications.

Photo Credits

  • construction crane against blue sky image by asiana from