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How to Become an Overhead Crane Operator

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Questions answered in this article:

  • What is an overhead crane?
  • What qualifications do I need to be an overhead crane operator?
  • What training courses can I do to become an overhead crane operator?
  • How many work experience hours does it take to become a certified overhead crane operator?
  • What overhead crane operator courses does Hercules Training Academy offer?

Overhead Cranes in the Industry

These days Overhead Crane Operators are in high demand. They work in various industries such as heavy equipment repair, shipbuilding, powerplants, manufacturing and transportation. Even though there are multiple skilled positions within these industries—contractors, electricians, cement layers, and more, the specialized talents of an Overhead Crane Operator are critical for the success of many projects. There are more opportunities for overhead crane operators than ever before, thanks to the extensive demand within the many industries. Overhead Crane Operators work with cranes to load/unload heavy cargo and containers and move heavy products.

What is an Overhead Crane?

An overhead crane is a piece of machinery or equipment that allows the operator to lift and transfer large goods from one area to another. Each overhead crane is diligently developed and engineered for a unique purpose or application to meet a company’s material handling demands; therefore, there is no “one size fits all” framework for defining an overhead crane.

What qualifications do I need to be an overhead crane operator?

Requirements for Overhead Crane apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. Applicants must have a Grade 10 education or equivalent to enter a crane operator training program in most provinces and territories. Some areas offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work as Crane Operator. The skills required to become an Overhead Crane Operator include strong attention to detail, good mechanical aptitude, and strong verbal communication.

yellow overhead crane controller with big red button

In Nova Scotia, the requirement to operate an overhead crane weighing more than 10 tons is a provincial certification. Overhead Crane Operators can earn their certification by performing 1000 hours of work experience. Apprentice Crane Operators work alongside industry-experienced mentors who aid their journey to become certified operators.


Hercules Training Academy Programs 

Hercules Training Academy’s Overhead Crane Operator Training provides students with in-depth knowledge of lifting, rigging, and overhead cranes, enabling them to perform lifting operations specific to their environment while following local regulations and industry standards. This training program is ideal for Overhead Crane Operators who need to lift various loads with different rigging configurations. Students receive a blend of practical and classroom learning in our socially distanced classrooms at our training academy.


This course is suitable for anybody interested in getting their overhead crane certification or certified Crane Operators looking to improve their skills and knowledge. From beginners to experienced professionals, the Hercules Training Academy approach leaves students with more knowledge and confidence when operating overhead cranes. 

Our instructors encourage questions and value the importance of hands-on learning.  The Hercules Training Academy is the only organization offering Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) accredited training programs in Atlantic Canada. Hercules Group of Companies is a full member of LEEA, and our programs meet and exceed all the requirements of CSAB167 and local regulations. Students can choose between a 2-day intensive course or a 5-day option.

 The 2-day Overhead Crane Operator Course Provides: 

– Basic introduction to overhead cranes.

– One day, focused on rigging.

– One day, concentrated on overhead cranes.

– Practical and in-class experience.

– 3-year certification for any crane under 10 tons with supervision.

– Socially distanced classrooms.

The 5-day Overhead crane Operator Course Provides: 

– 50% hands-on, 50% in class.

– Ability to use a crane over 10 tons.

– Ability to use a crane without supervision.

– 250 hours towards the provincially required 1000 hours of work experience to be licensed.

In both courses, students learn: 

– Safety regulations and standards

– Risk management

– Lifting plan creation

– Rigging fundamentals

– Overhead crane pre-use inspection

– Overhead crane safe operating principles

– Communications (radio and hand signals)

– Practical application of the equipment and principles

female overhead crane operator wearing blue hard hat holding controller with slings holding a load in front of her

Both classes include a combination of theory and practical training. Instructors dedicate a minimum of 50% of the time to practical, hands-on learning in our training facility. Students will spend the remaining 50% in the classroom. Students are evaluated through a written test and practical demonstration. Upon completing the program, a certificate will be issued that remains valid for three years.

The Hercules Training Academy takes pride in providing students with practical industry education taught by LEEA accredited experts. Our expert instructors know the theory and regulations and have worked in the field.


For more information on Overhead Crane Operator Certification and our courses, call the Hercules Training Academy or check out our website.

Other Resources:

Nova Scotia – Labor, Skills and Immigration

Approved programs within Nova Scotia 

Application for Certificate of Qualification 

Crane Operators Regulations 

Current NSCC courses involving Overhead Cranes:

Metal Fabrication