Overhead Crane Operator

Work a crane from above the ground to lift or load anything and everything.
picture of Overhead Crane Operator

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$29,000 – $79,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Overhead Crane Operators do?

In the movies, giant trolls pick up and move heavy, bulky objects from place to place. Unfortunately, these mythical creatures are hard to find outside of a movie set. Instead, Overhead Crane Operators handle the job. An Overhead Crane Operator uses a large machine, and a team of helpers, to move objects on construction sites and in warehouses.

As an Overhead Crane Operator, you work with one of two types of machine. One machine has a plastic-enclosed cab that you sit in while you operate the crane. The other has a series of external buttons and levers that you operate via remote control.

Before you begin work, you determine where the items are now, and where they need to be moved. In addition, you try to get a feel for how heavy the objects are. Trying to lift objects that are heavier than the crane could spell disaster, so you’re allowed to take your time on your calculations.

Once you’ve developed a plan, you attach the crane’s cables to the load and you operate levers to lift the object. Flaggers on the ground notify you when you can turn your crane, when you should move forward, and when you should stop. When you’ve reached your destination, you use different levers to drop the load.

At the end of the workday, you look over your crane and make sure it’s in good operating condition. Small problems, such as a frayed cable or a slightly worn belt, can be repaired on the spot, but major ones, such as burning oil or overheating engines, might necessitate a call to the Mechanic.


Should I be an Overhead Crane Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Cathead Operator, Ingot Stripper I

    How to become an Overhead Crane Operator

    Most Overhead Crane Operators have a Certificate or no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:98baaa&chl=no+college+%2850%25%29|certificate+%2849%25%29|associate%27s+%281%25%29|||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,50,50
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