expert viewpoint: on training and choosing a training company

24 April 2008

Annette Peterson, The Crane School

Annette Peterson, The Crane School

Twenty percent of all construction fatalities are crane-related, and many of the higher profile construction-related lawsuits involve crane accidents. All too often these accidents are the fault of an untrained operator.

Moreover, some 90% of operators involved in accidents do not meet minimum competency requirements outlined in federal, state and industry crane safety standards. In crane accident litigation, employers are often found negligent for not providing operators with sufficient training. To lessen liability and assure safer crane operation, more crane operating companies and governmental entities are requiring their operators to be trained and/or certified by a NCCA accredited agency.

What should a contractor or operator look for when selecting a crane operator training company? References, references, references. Be sure to get at least three solid references from training companies that submit bids. Keep in mind that a credible company will be happy to provide a list of clients whose operators have passed written and practical exams.

An instructor's credentials also should be verified when selecting a training company. NCCCO does not require a classroom instructor to be accredited by the organization, so it is important to ask the crane training company whether or not the instructors have actually taken the NCCCO exam. Those instructors who have taken the exam and are CCO certified will know exactly what to teach their students, and can provide better insight on what to expect from the exam.

Selecting a training company requires some initial homework. The right company is comfortable to work with and employs trainers and examiners who are reliable and teach the appropriate information. The right company provides excellent customer service and achieves the desired results at a reasonable price. So what is a reasonable price? A reasonable price for crane operator training is between $1,700 and $2,400 per person, which can be exclusive of the written and practical exam testing fees. Depending on the number of specialties an operator takes, the written exam fee is from $165 to$195, and the practical exam fee is from $60 to $80.

Although keeping costs down is always a factor, be sure to look at the “big picture.” Some training companies provide a price for the training class, but the price of the practical examiner is often not included. Other companies include the price of the exams but not the practical examiner, or vice versa, so take care to assure that you are matching dollar for dollar when comparing prices. Also remember to include labor costs (raw dollars), lost revenue (for the number of days the operator is off the job for training), and travel expenses.

When interviewing prospective training companies, ask questions. How many students will be in the prep class? No more than 20 students per class is advisable. Does the crane training company help with the application process for the exams? Full service training companies will help operators fill out applications, tell them what documentation they need, send in the completed applications, and set up operators to take the prep class, written exam, and practical exam. Does the company offer weekend programs? Some schools will offer programs on weekends and will perform the practical exam after the class in most cases. The operator will only need to return to the classroom the following week to complete the written exam.

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D.Ann Shiffler Editor, American Cranes & Transport Tel: +1 512 869 8838 E-mail:
Matt Burk VP Sales Tel: +1 773 610 9467 E-mail: