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How do I Become a Crane Operator in Canada?

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There are two main types of crane operators in Canada: those who operate mobile cranes, which are attached to a vehicle and driven to a work site, and those who operate tower cranes, which are built and remain at a single site—typically a high-rise or skyscraper. In all cases, crane operators are responsible for using cranes to lift, place and position a variety of objects, which are often large and heavy. Becoming a crane operator requires a combination of education, apprenticeship, and in some cases certification and licensing.

Complete secondary school. While it is not mandatory to take courses that relate to construction, taking such courses can help speed up the process of becoming a crane operator. According to the Ontario government's "Working in Ontario," other relevant courses include English, since crane operators often communicate with others, and mathematics, since operators perform calculations on a frequent basis.

Enroll in a training program that is recognized by your province and that offers training for the type of crane operation work you are interested in. Complete the training, which usually takes six to twelve weeks and includes classroom and hands-on components. Note that mobile crane operators can obtain a "Red Seal" certification, which is recognized by all provinces, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; if you may work in more than one province in the future, be sure to find a training program that will lead toward this designation.

Work as an apprentice for the required number of hours. The requirement varies depending on the type of crane you wish to be certified to operate, but it is often between 1,000 and 6,000 hours, over the course of six months to six years. Training providers will help you find opportunities to apprentice, and you will be paid for your work, but at a percentage (typically 50 to 80 percent) of the rate of a fully certified operator.

Write and pass the exam specific to the province and type of crane you wish to be certified to operate. Different provinces have different prerequisites and certification requirements, so be sure to check with the government of the province within which you wish to work. A minimum grade specified by the province is required to pass the exam. After you pass, a certificate of qualification will be issued.

Pass the driver's license exam for the class of vehicle you may be required to drive as a crane operator, if required by the province in which you plan to work. Large vehicles that have air brakes may require this type of driver's license; check with the province in question to confirm.


If you are an immigrant to Canada and have training and experience as a crane operator in another country, many provinces will recognize this. Depending on your situation, some of the normal requirements may be reduced or eliminated, and you may be able to become a certified crane operator more quickly.


Crane operators work outdoors in any type of weather, including extreme cold and heat, and may also work up to hundreds of feet in the air.