Download PDF

Contents

Crane Operators (NOC 7371) may also be called:

  • boom truck operator
  • tower crane operator
  • hoist operator
  • dragline operator
  • hydraulic crane operator
  • mobile crane operator

What Would I Do?

You operate cranes to lift or move machinery, equipment and other large objects at construction sites, ports, mines and other industrial locations. In BC there are three main types of cranes that you can operate:

Tower Crane Operator: you operate a non-moving crane with an extremely long vertical mast. Tower cranes are used in construction for large structures such as bridges and hi-rise buildings.

Boom Truck Crane Operator: you operate a large construction vehicle that has a crane at the rear of the truck in order to lift heavy items onto the truck bed.

Mobile Crane Operator: you operate a crane designed to travel to different parts of a job site. Mobile cranes do work a boom truck can’t do such as higher lifts, heavier loads, and lifts that need a longer reach.

More information:

Am I Suited For This Job?

The number one priority is safety. As a crane operator, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and others you work with.


You need to be able to handle stress and be willing to work long, hard hours. You need to be able to get along well with others, think for yourself and work independently. It also helps to come from a background where you are already used to being around heavy equipment.

Other skills include:

  • Good eyesight and hand-eye coordination
  • Ability to comfortably work at heights
  • High level of alertness and concentration
  • Interest in technology and mechanics

The industry offers good pay and lots of variety.

Sources: BC Association for Crane Safety, WorkBC Career Profile for Crane Operator

What Are The Wages And Benefits?

In British Columbia, the average annual salary ranges from $66,000 to $95,000. Your wage depends on the type of crane you operate, number of hours worked and region of the province.

In BC’s regions, you can expect to make:

Location Low ($/hr) Median ($/hr) High ($/hr)
British Columbia 22.00 31.00 46.00
Lower Mainland – Southwest Region 22.00 31.00 46.00
Thompson–Okanagan Region 21.00 31.50 40.88
Vancouver Island and Coast Region 22.00 31.00 46.00

Table from Job Bank Wage Report

If you work full-time you may receive benefits such as dental coverage and vacation.

Many crane operators belong to a union. This means that your wage rates and benefits are negotiated on your behalf by union representatives.

Sources: WorkBC Career ProfileCareer Cruising database (Profile for Crane Operator).

What Is The Job Outlook In BC?

The job outlook for crane operators is strongly influenced by British Columbia’s construction industry. Most new job openings will come from the need to replace retiring workers. Over the longer term, employment growth is expected to be average.

job outlook for crane operators

Chart from WorkBC
Source: WorkBC Career Profiles

How Do I Become a Crane Operator?

To operate a crane in BC you must have a valid operator’s certificate.


The BC Association for Crane Safety (BCACS) has developed a program to help you obtain a valid operator’s certificate. The first step is to register with the BCACS. After that you have 3 options depending on your level of experience:

  • If you have experience, you can proceed with the assessment process for your particular crane type.
  • If you are a new operator or feel you need further training to prepare for the assessment, you and/or your employer may choose to do in-house training. You may also arrange upgrading with a training provider of your choice.
  • Apprenticeship–you may choose to submit an application to the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and register as an apprentice for the applicable crane type.

The program has three separate requirements for each type of crane operators: boom truck, mobile and tower crane operators.

For more information about apprenticeship programs and certification see:

How Do I Find A Job?

Where do Crane Operators Work?

Crane operators work in variety of businesses including:

  • construction
  • mining
  • transportation and warehousing
  • manufacturing

Crane Usage by Employer Sector

Source:  BC Association for Crane Safety

Finding Advertised Jobs

Jobs are advertised in a variety of sources including newspapers, magazines and online job sites.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and in The Province on Sundays.

Online Job Postings

Finding “Hidden Jobs”

Many job vacancies are not advertised. The resources below help you with finding jobs in this “hidden” job market.

Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers

You can use company directories to produce lists of employers who employ crane operators in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “crane” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Networking, Volunteering and Temporary Agencies

Many positions are filled by people who have been recommended by someone they know. Networking, working as a volunteer or registering with a temporary employment agency are good ways of helping you find jobs and meet people in your industry.

Networking and the Hidden Job Market:

When looking for work, be sure to talk to friends, relatives and neighbours. They may know someone who is hiring! Working as a volunteer, attending events, and joining clubs and associations are good ways to gain “Canadian experience.” They are also good ways to meet people to learn about the local job market.


For additional tips see:

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

For more information see:

Where Can This Job Lead?

With experience, you can move up and become a supervisor or foreman. You may also choose to become an estimator or dispatcher. Occasionally people buy their own equipment and go into business for themselves as independent owner-operators.

Where Can I Find More Information?

  • STEP
    STEP is a no-fee employment program that helps immigrants get jobs in the construction industry