Mobile Crane Operator National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Mobile Crane Operator.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Opérateur/opératrice de grue automotrice

NOC: 7371

Designation Year: 1991

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Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Mobile Crane Operator

Use this self-assessment tool (PDF, 1.2 MB) to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information


“Mobile Crane Operator” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by mobile crane operators whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Crane and Hoist Operator


Crane and Hoisting Equipment Operator - Branch 1: Mobile Crane Operator


Crane and Hoisting Equipment Operator - Mobile Crane



Crane Operator


Mobile Crane Operator





Mobile Crane Operator (Lattice Boom Friction Crane)


Mobile Crane Operator - Branch 1 (over 8 tons)


Mobile crane operators operate mobile cranes to lift, move, position and place materials and equipment. They perform pre‐operational inspections. They calculate crane capacities, determine load weight, and set up, position and stabilize the crane before the lift. Mobile crane operators have the additional responsibilities of disassembling, traveling and transporting mobile cranes. They may also participate in rigging procedures. They also perform some routine maintenance and housekeeping of the crane equipment such as lubricating and cleaning.

Mobile cranes are used in many industry sectors. They are very commonly used in the construction of buildings and the assembly of large equipment. They are used in locations such as construction sites, warehouses, factories, mines, oil rigs, refineries, railway yards, ships, windmill farms and ports. Mobile crane operators may be employed by rental companies, construction firms, manufacturers, public utilities, transport sector companies, ship builders, cargo-handlers, airports, railways and mines.

Mobile cranes come in different types such as crawlers, truck-mounted, rough-terrain and all‑terrain. The boom of the crane may be lattice or telescopic. Some mobile cranes are fitted with equipment, including piledriver, clamshell, dragline, wrecking ball, magnet and personnel basket, which can perform specialized functions. They may be outfitted with heavy lift attachments, tower attachments and luffing jibs.

Some mobile crane operators specialize in different crane functions. In some cases, an operator may work for years on a single large site, operating a single type and size of mobile crane. Mobile crane operators working for rental companies may rarely work on the same site more than once and may routinely perform a variety of tasks with different types and sizes of mobile cranes.

The majority of the work in this trade is outdoors. Key attributes for people entering the trade are strong communication skills, mechanical aptitude, mathematical ability, excellent visual and depth perception and a high degree of hand-foot-eye coordination. The operation of some mobile cranes is physically demanding as is the handling of accessories.

Mobile crane operators interact with other tradespeople, contractors and customers.

The skills of mobile crane operators are transferable to operating other heavy equipment. With experience, mobile crane operators may move into careers such as business owners, supervisors, trainers and job coordinators.

Occupational Observations

Safety is the number one concern of mobile crane operators, owners and contractors. Mobile crane operators are required to take site-specific safety training to be familiar with the company, contractor and jobsite safety requirements. The regulatory environment in which Canada’s crane industry operates continues to grow more complex and more rigorous, covering issues such as due diligence and liability.

As cranes are becoming more sophisticated and larger, the need for training is increasing. There is new knowledge in computer technology, metallurgy and other disciplines associated with the engineering of crane equipment. These technologies are ever evolving and new materials continue to make equipment stronger, lighter and easier to assemble.

Operator aids such as load moment indicators (LMI) continue to evolve making mobile crane operators more informed of the crane operations. The introduction of cameras is allowing for greater visibility around the crane. Improvements in cab design are allowing for a wider range of crane functions to be performed from the cab. The use of computer technology is contributing to better accuracy in crane operation.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order.

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, as described by subject matter experts who participated in the NOA for mobile crane operator (hydraulic).

In their daily work, mobile crane operators read and comprehend several types of texts. These include safety and work procedures as well as more complex hoisting regulations and manufacturers’ operating manuals.

Mobile crane operators use workplace documents such as logbooks, load charts, hazard assessments and workplace policies and procedures to carry out their job. They must be familiar with regulations relating to hoisting, rigging and safe work environments. They must have the ability to read and interpret manufacturers’ specifications and load charts for the model of crane they are using. Depending on site specific requirements, they may obtain information from engineered and construction drawings and plans.

Mobile crane operators use writing skills to record comments or notes in logbooks or work records. They write messages to colleagues or management to give work details or reply to requests for technical information. They may also write longer descriptions and explanations for various reporting and data collection forms.

Mobile crane operators use oral communication skills to coordinate work with site crews. Clear communication of technical and complex information is very important to avoid injuries and promote efficiency. Mobile crane operators also use communication skills when instructing apprentices, co-workers and on-site work crews. Good listening and visual skills are also required to communicate with riggers, signallers and other operators during lifts. Operators use verbal communication and hand signals to communicate the speed of lift movements and precise positioning of loads.

Mobile crane operators use a range of math skills in their daily work. These include mathematical and physics concepts such as conversions, geometry, algebraic calculations, measurement and calculation of load and lift requirements. They use code books, load charts and manufacturers’ specifications to further determine procedures, limits and the necessary equipment for rigging and hoisting.

Mobile crane operators must use decision-making skills to perform work planning and prioritizing. The decisions they make about the sequence of work have implications for everyone on site. Mobile crane operators require strong analytical skills to effectively use their equipment.

Mobile crane operators use problem solving skills to choose setup locations and crane configurations for specific jobs. During lifts mobile crane operators make operational decisions to start, stop and vary the speed and direction of lifts to ensure safe movement and placement of a load. They evaluate the safety of lifts before and during lifts, and stop work if necessary.

To be effective, mobile crane operators must establish close and ongoing job task coordination with other workers on the job site. They work closely with clients to plan lifts and ensure that their activities are coordinated with those of on-site crews. They are in close communication with riggers, signallers and supervisors to coordinate lifts and load placements. Mobile crane operators work in close coordination with other operators when performing multiple crane lifts and when in close proximity with other cranes and heavy equipment.

Mobile crane operators are increasingly required to interpret electronic data transmitted from LMI, anemometers and electronic scales to a display located in the cab of the crane. Controls for the mobile crane may also involve computerized applications.

As construction methods and crane technology are advancing, mobile crane operators must keep abreast of these developments. There are requirements for site or crane specific training and regulatory changes that may require additional certification and ongoing learning to ensure compliance and safe working conditions.


The CCDA and HRSDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended to the following representatives who attended a national workshop to develop the NOA for Mobile Crane Operator (Hydraulic) published in 2012.

  • Geoff Alexander - Alberta
  • Kelly Avery - Saskatchewan
  • Brian Burgess - Nova Scotia
  • Barry Deacon - Alberta
  • Craig Gaudette - Prince Edward Island
  • Ron Housh - Ontario
  • Clint Wells - New Brunswick

This analysis was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of HRSDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of Saskatchewan also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about NOAs may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9