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Crane and Hoisting Equipment Operator - Tower Crane

An overview of the recent changes to the crane and hoisting equipment operator apprenticeship training programs are available here.


Crane and hoisting equipment operators service and operate the hoist and swing equipment used to move machinery, materials and other large objects.  Tower crane operators service and operate traveling, fixed, climbing or self-erecting type hoisting equipment with a vertical mast or tower and a jib.

Tower crane operators manipulate a number of pedals and levers to rotate the crane, and raise and lower its boom and one or more loadlines. Some or all of these operations may be performed simultaneously.  Tower crane operators are often involved in assembling the crane onsite.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Crane and hoisting equipment operators–tower crane (tower crane operators) work outdoors, often in noisy, dusty conditions. They work in various locations throughout Alberta, in all types of weather. A 40-hour, five-day week is normal, but overtime may be required to meet construction deadlines.

Occupational hazards include injuries resulting from power line contact, crane overload, falls, weather conditions or manual lifting.


Skills and Abilities

Successful tower crane operators are capable decision-makers, who are prepared to work independently when necessary. They also enjoy the comradery of being part of a team and traveling to different locations. They often like variety in their work.

To be successful in the trade, tower crane operators must have:

  • coordination and manual dexterity,
  • the ability to work at heights,
  • the strength, stamina, and ability to use proper lifting techniques to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms,
  • good vision, and
  • the ability to work as part of a team and communicate with ground crews, usually using hand signals and voice communication.


Employment and Advancement

Tower crane operators are employed by general contractors and subcontractors in the forestry, mining, construction and oil industries, and by crane rental companies. Employment prospects change with seasonal and economic climates. Many crane operators are members of unions.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $24 to $38 an hour, plus benefits.

Experienced tower crane operators may advance to supervisory positions, or set up their own crane rental businesses.


Working in Alberta

To work as a tower crane operator in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a tower crane operator is 2 years (two 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1320 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training in the first year, and minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training in the second year

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the tower crane operator trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer’s recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a crane and hoisting equipment operator-tower crane in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice tower crane operators earn at least 70 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, and 85 percent in the two year.
  • complete all program requirements as identified in the Course Outline
    • There is no technical training available at present.
  • in lieu of technical training and upon completion of all the required on-the-job training and the term of apprenticeship, the apprentice may attempt the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) theory and practical PLA examinations (no fees) and if the apprentice is successful, they can complete his/her apprenticeship program.
  • successfully complete all required (see Exam Counselling Sheet)


Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A crane and hoisting equipment operator–tower crane operator who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available Resource Materials.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available Resource Materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.