Crane Operators

(NOC 7371)

in All Trades and Transportation

Crane operators operate cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, materials, equipment and other large things at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations. They work for construction, industrial, ship building, transport sector, mining, cargo handling and railway companies and public utilities.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Strong growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 45 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

  • Estimate 4040 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 8425 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Outlook for crane operators: good, a better than average chance of a qualified individual finding work.

Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: small, with infrequent job opportunities.

Demand: strong growth between 2021 and 2023. Competition may be low due to few qualified jobseekers. Retirements are expected to provide some opportunities.

Work hours: full-time, normally. Jobs may be permanent or temporary, both are common.

Hourly Pay

$15.50

Minimum

$32.00

Median

$38.84

Maximum

Annual Pay

$22,952

Minimum

$60,922

Median

$138,668

Maximum

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

Hourly Pay

$15.00

Minimum

$24.00

Median

$37.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$7,580

Minimum

$37,269

Median

$79,787

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Crane operators operate cranes or draglines to lift, move, position or place machinery, materials, equipment and other large things at construction or industrial sites, ports, railway yards, surface mines and other similar locations. They work for construction, industrial, ship building, transport sector, mining, cargo handling and railway companies and public utilities.

Job duties

Crane Operators:

  • Use mobile and tower cranes to lift, move, position or place equipment and materials.
  • Complete pre-operational inspection and calculate crane capacities and weight to prepare for rigging and hoisting.
  • Use pile driving cranes to drive pilings into earth to provide support for buildings and other structures.
  • Use cranes equipped with dredging attachments to dredge waterways and other areas.
  • Use gantry cranes to load and unload ship cargo at port side.
  • Use locomotive cranes to move objects and materials at railway yards.
  • Use bridge or overhead cranes to lift, move and place plant machinery and materials.
  • Use offshore oil rig cranes to unload and reload supply vessels.
  • Use cranes mounted on boats or barges to lift, move, and place equipment and materials.
  • Use dragline cranes to expose coal seams and ore deposits at open pit mines.
  • May assemble tower cranes on site.
  • Complete routine maintenance work like cleaning and lubricating cranes.

Sample job titles

  • boom truck crane operator
  • construction crane operator
  • crane operator
  • hoist operator (except underground mining)
  • mobile crane operator
  • overhead crane operator
  • skip operator
  • tower crane operator

Skills

  • Strength and stamina
  • Agility and ability to work at heights
  • Coordination and manual dexterity
  • Good vision
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Precision and attention to detail
  • Ability to follow direction
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to work independently when necessary
  • Comfortable travelling to different locations

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent (usually).
  • High school, college or industry courses in crane operating (usually).
  • Certification for mobile crane operators is voluntary in Nova Scotia.
  • Certification for tower crane operators is voluntary in Nova Scotia.
  • Mobile crane operators may require a provincial licence to drive mobile cranes on public roads.
  • Internal company certification as a crane operator may be required by some employers.
  • Trade Qualifier option: write and score a minimum of 70% on the Red Seal exam for either mobile crane or tower crane operators.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) allows for interprovincial mobility.
  • A licence is required from the Technical Safety Division to work in the mobile or tower crane operator trades.

Other considerations

  • Setting: outdoors in all types of weather, often noisy, dusty conditions.
  • Hazards: injuries from power line contact, crane overload, falls, weather conditions, manual lifting.
  • Crane operators work a 40-hour work week and overtime is common.
  • Robotics and computerized controls will increase the skill requirements for crane operators.
  • Experienced crane operators may advance to supervisory positions.
  • Everyone has fair access to participate and succeed in the apprenticeship system. Everyone who develops the necessary skills and abilities should be able to succeed in the trades and trade qualification system. Work environments in the province support women and equity-seeking communities.

By the numbers

Quick look

515

employed in 2016

95.1%

employed full-time

1.9%

self employed

1.9%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
98.1%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
47.2

median age

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

57,925

employed in 2016

85.9%

employed full-time

11.8%

self employed

5.3%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
94.7%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

41.3%

Halifax

$70,580 median annual income
19.2%

North Shore

$66,703 median annual income
16.3%

Cape Breton

$38,356 median annual income
15.4%

Annapolis Valley

$49,418 median annual income
7.7%

Southern

$48,366 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

45.7%

Construction

16.0%

Manufacturing

7.4%

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

6.2%

Transportation and warehousing

6.2%

Real estate and rental and leasing

What is the age of Employment?

28.0%

45-54

27.0%

35-44

20.0%

55-64

14.0%

25-34

8.0%

65+

4.0%

15-24

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

24.4%

45-54

22.1%

55-64

17.7%

35-44

17.7%

25-34

10.9%

15-24

Top levels of education

58.3%

Trade Certification

$62,963 median annual income
24.3%

College Diploma

$59,127 median annual income
8.7%

High school

$71,410 median annual income
7.8%

Less than high school

$40,038 median annual income
1.9%

Diploma Below Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

29.2%

Trade Certification

$46,494 median annual income
25.5%

High school

$31,260 median annual income
22.3%

College Diploma

$42,050 median annual income
18.7%

Less than high school

$28,319 median annual income
2.8%

Bachelor

$30,527 median annual income

Education & training

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Mobile Crane Operator

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to hoist and swing loads via complex rotating machinery that is driver operated. They include courses in crane operational characteristics, load and capacity chart usage, emergency control skills, safety, specific types of mobile cranes and loading devices, applicable codes and standards, and applications to particular types of jobs and loads.

Institutions providing this program

Commercial Safety College

Truro, NS

Operating Engineers Training Institute of Nova Scotia

Falmouth, NS

Trade Qualifier

Trades Program

The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency also offers a path to trades certification outside of a formal apprenticeship agreement with a qualified journeyperson. This option includes a set amount of required hours of related experience in the trade, passing a certification exam, and other criteria. Contact the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency for more details.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Crane Operators (Mobile and Tower)

Licence: A licence is required to work in the mobile crane or tower crane operator trades.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Technical Safety Division
Halifax, NS
Mobile Crane Operator

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, but a certificate is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS
Tower Crane Operators

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, but a certificate is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS

Contacts

Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, Occupational Health and Safety Division
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council
Halifax, NS

Additional resources