Crane operators love working with heavy machinery, working in teams, and have good hand-eye coordination. If this sounds like a great way to spend your working day, you could have a bright future as a crane operator.

Why become a crane operator?

Start your career with no student loan

Earn a wage from day one, and finish your traineeship without a massive loan hanging over your head!

Work that suits your lifestyle

Work outdoors instead of being stuck in the same office all day. As your career grows, you’ll have more freedom and flexibility in your schedule to fit in more time for the things that matter, such as family, hobbies, and interests.

A variety of experiences

No two days are the same! You’ll get the chance to work on a wide range of jobs throughout your career.

What do crane operators do?

Cranes play a massive role in New Zealand’s construction sector. By becoming a crane operator you’ll play a direct role in building up New Zealand’s infrastructure. Whether it’s lifting structures into place, moving heavy loads, or unloading containers from trucks – wherever there is development, there is a need for skilled crane operators.

Crane operators use cranes to move large, heavy objects. This can include materials on construction sites, containers on wharves, and heavy parts in factories.

There’s lots of coordination and communication on the job – you’re not the only one on the job! Whether you’re operating the crane itself or you’re on the ground directing the crane, it’s all about the team working together effectively.


On any given day you could be:

  • Driving mobile cranes to and from work sites
  • Lifting loads using a crane
  • Slinging loads for a crane to lift
  • Checking that the crane is set up correctly and securely
  • Checking the crane’s water, fuel, and oil levels, as well as its other mechanical parts

Where can I go?

Once you complete your qualification you will be able to work as a crane operator on worksites around New Zealand. From there you’ll be able to get further qualified which will allow you to take on more specialised crane operation roles or move into supervisory roles.

As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to progress to higher level roles, such as foreperson, supervisor, health and safety advisor, or project manager.

Get the qualifications

Through EarnLearn, you can work towards gaining your New Zealand Certificate in Cranes (Level 3) and New Zealand Certificate in Cranes (Level 4). Both qualifications are completed on-the-job, and are made up of specialist strands. Once you have completed your Level 3 Certificate, you can go on to your Level 4 qualification.

Casual credits

Specialist strands can also be completed using the casual credits process. This process allows you to complete individual units as required in order to meet the regulatory ACOP requirements or up-skill in a specific area.

Get the qualifications

The New Zealand Certificate in Cranes (Level 3) has strands in:

  • Cab controlled overhead crane
  • Dogman
  • Pendant controlled overhead crane
  • Self-erecting tower crane
  • Truck loader crane

The New Zealand Certificate in Cranes (Level 4) which has strands in:

  • Advanced Dogman
  • Crawler crane
  • Mini Crawler crane
  • Mobile crane
  • Non -slewing Articulated crane
  • Tower Crane

Certificate Only Process: Recognising your cranes experience

Do you hold cranes unit standards and want the qualification?

You can now apply to have your cranes units awarded to a New Zealand Certificate. You will need to provide confirmation from your employer that you have the competencies to gain the qualification.

How to get started

Find an employer

The first step of the process is to find an employer. If you’re already working in the cranes industry you can approach your employer. If you are looking to begin your journey in the Cranes Industry you can contact Cranes businesses directly.

Sign up

Once you and your employer are ready to get started, you should give us a call on 0800 327 648 (0800 EARN IT). There’s a couple of forms you’ll need to fill out together, so we’ll send these to you. Once we’ve received and processed your documents, an Account Manager will get in touch with you or your employer. They’ll run through an induction so you can kick off your training on the right foot.