Whether you’re new to the world of construction or someone who has been in the business for many years and looking to take the next step toward advancing your career, you know that the key to success is in continuing your education. Developing as many marketable skills as possible in your chosen field might sound a little obvious, but actually figuring out where to begin isn’t always easy.

In your research, you may have discovered that a crane. This is becoming more and more common as workplace safety requirements become more stringent across the country.

In this article, we’ll illuminate what you can expect to learn from NCCCO training, as well as where to go about getting it and what to do once you have it.

What Is the NCCCO?

NCCCO stands for the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. Founded and run by professionals in the field, the NCCCO seeks to standardize safety protocols and verify the knowledge and skills of crane operators everywhere. This commitment to ensuring a standard for excellence across the board has led to fewer accidents on jobsites, as well as a significantly reduced risk of property damage or material loss.

Why Get NCCCO Training?

The benefits for employers are clear. Having NCCCO-certified employees means they can rest assured that their workers have received consistent training with an emphasis on safety. These benefits will carry over to you as a crane operator as well. Being able to demonstrate that you have received the appropriate training will put you in much more demand by prospective employers.

Due to recent law changes, businesses simply cannot hire you if you aren’t certified by one of the three accepted certification organizations, including NCCCO. It won’t matter if you have lots of field experience or not. They simply won’t want to take the risk. Even crane operators who have been in the field for decades and are entirely self-taught must now obtain certification.

Where Do I Go to Get Trained?

The NCCCO as an organization doesn’t endorse any specific crane operator school. Finding the right one is a matter of doing a little research and considering your location or your willingness to travel. When searching for the right school, there are a few things you should always keep in mind:

1. Choose a place that balances classroom training with on-the-job experience

When attempting to get certified by the NCCCO, it’s impossible to get the full picture without both classroom training and on-the-job experience. You’ll have to learn the intricacies of safety in a classroom, where you can discuss them with your instructor and fellow students. But you’ll also have to get plenty of practice working with the equipment. A good crane operator school will offer equal parts of both.

2. Look for instructors with real-world experience

As with any new skill, it helps to learn from the best. This is especially true if you’re pursuing a career in construction. You will need instructors who have not only worked in the industry in the past but who continue to stay active working on construction projects. There are simply too many nuances and intricacies in the work that can only be learned from experience or learned from someone else who has that experience.

3. Find a school that will help you find work afterward

Of course, getting your NCCCO certification will only be the beginning. The best NCCCO training organizations will also help you put a resume together and put you in touch with potential employers in your area. Many employers communicate with crane operator schools when they’re looking for trained workers. You should be able to use this as a resource during your job search.

It may seem insurmountable to find a school that meets all of these criteria, but they are certainly out there, and traveling for a quality program is worth it. West Coast Training in Woodland, Washington, for example, is an excellent option and accepts students from around the world.

What Will I Learn When I Get Certified?

Because there are many different types of cranes in regular use today, there’s no single type of NCCCO certification. Certifications that are offered include:

  • Mobile crane operator
  • Boom truck operator
  • Service truck operator
  • Tower crane operator
  • Overhead crane operator
  • Articulating crane operator
  • Digger derrick operator
  • Dedicated pile driver operator
  • Drill rig operator
  • Signalperson
  • Rigger

Once you have decided which certifications you wish to pursue, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. You must be at least 18 years of age and comply with NCCCO’s substance abuse policy.

Your NCCCO training will first equip you to pass the core exam. This is the same no matter what you decide to pursue. You will learn how to read manufacturer’s load charts and study the basic terminology and definitions of cranes and related equipment. You will study hook blocks, running ropes, and many other simple machines that are utilized in construction work.

Once you’ve passed the core examination, you’ll move onto your specialty, which you’ll choose from the list above. If you’ve opted to get your certification from a reputable third-party school, you will most likely pursue several certifications at once. Your NCCCO training will prepare you to answer questions related to the specifics of the different types of cranes. For example, if you decide to become certified as a mobile crane operator, you’ll study lattice boom crawler cranes, telescopic boom cranes, and others.

The Practical Test

Your NCCCO training will also get you in shape for your practical test. This will be done at a nearby practical test site location approved by the NCCCO. To pass this test, you will need to build real-world experience, which you can do through your crane operator school. The practical test will score you on your ability to move loads, as well as drive the crane from place to place. A critical part of your test will also be in your ability to inspect the crane for safety beforehand. You’ll need to get in the habit of checking your machinery every time you’re preparing to use it.