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how much does a crane operator make

When weighing the decision on whether to attend crane operator school, it’s important to consider all the information available to you. For many, one essential question is how much does a crane operator make in a given year?

We’ll answer that question below. But first, it should be noted that crane and material handling machine operators are projected to see consistent job growth for the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is expected to see 7% job growth — which matches the projected across all fields and industries — for the decade stretching from 2020-2030.

Those projections don’t take into account the possible increased growth that could occur with the initiation of the federal infrastructure bill. The $1 trillion bill is designed to improve, through passive public projects, all manner of infrastructure projects — from roads and bridges to improvements for water systems, airports, and railways. These projects will need crane and material handling machine operators — and other heavy equipment operators — to be completed. Clearly, the opportunities for crane operators will likely increase in frequency moving forward.

More than cranes: PTS also offers training courses on all sorts of heavy equipment, from skid steers to excavators. Learn more here.

Excellent Baseline, Median Pay for Crane Operators

Crane operators remain, on average, among the best compensated in the entire heavy equipment operator family of occupations. Recent data compiled by the BLS showed the average (or mean) hourly wage for crane operators was at $30.27/hour in 2020. The median yearly earning for crane operators was more than $59,000.

While those median wage numbers are impressive, the top-end and entry-level compensation place crane operators above other similar occupations. For example, highly experienced crane operators — those in the 20% of earners in the field — can approach $100,000 or more in a given year. The entry-level compensation still offers a strong initial earning capacity ($30-40K).

How much crane operators make is a strong reason to consider training and certification, but it’s far from the only one. There are many considerations that make this career path an attractive one. For instance, the demand level (cited above) is and will remain strong as more focus is turned to infrastructure projects. Also, the variety of roles crane operators can fulfill means there will be different tasks, locales, and jobs to potentially work. You can specialize in different types of cranes — like tower cranes or mobile hydraulic versions, fixed-cab or swing-cab — meaning there will also be room to grow, develop, and add to your skillset.

Finally, the ease of access and the relative quickness of the training and education programs to get started is a benefit for those looking for a new start. To become a crane operator you’ll need a high school education, and the proper certification and training. You won’t need a two- or four-year college degree. Your entire initial training and certification can be completed in a number of weeks, not months or years.

When can you start? View our updated course offering schedule here.

PTS Provides Crane Operator Training and More

With three-week courses, hands-on training, and in-the-seat instruction, Performance Training Solutions can have you lined up for a new career path in a wide variety of heavy equipment operator jobs quickly. With 120-hour training courses, you’ll be able to update your credentials quickly. Our small class sizes mean students will be involved throughout and will allow for adjustments on how the information is delivered to better serve you.

In the classroom, models and visual representations will be combined with textbook information. In the field, you’ll receive plenty of time in the seat — roughly half of your total training time — to practice putting theories into action. PTS offers three heavy equipment training courses.

  • Heavy Equipment Operator 1 is an entry-level course and covers the knowledge and skills required to obtain employment as a skid steer, wheel loader, compactor, backhoe, or articulated off-road dump truck operator.
  • Heavy Equipment Operator 2 follows up on that initial training and opens the door to employment as an operator for bulldozers, scrapers, excavators, and motor graders.
  • Our Mobile Crane Operations course, structured the same as the Heavy Equipment courses, will help you become an NCCCO certified crane operator and covers both mobile hydraulic telescopic boom swing-cab and fixed-cab cranes.

With PTS, you won’t have to wonder ‘How much does a crane operator make?’ You’ll know and experience it quickly yourself. By beginning your training now or in the near future, you’ll be that much closer to realizing a new career path and strong earning potential as a crane or heavy equipment operator.

Contact PTS today to schedule a tour of our Columbus, Ohio facility. You’ll learn more about how we operate, how we can serve you, and earn a $500 Tuition Reduction Scholarship in the process.

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