Seat Time for Certification

We were recently asked, “Can a new operator practice with a certified operator standing by?” Here are our thoughts on the subject:

Yes, absolutely a person training to be a mobile crane operator can operate the crane with a certified operator by their side.  In fact, at Crane Tech we think this is a great practice, as long as the operator-in-training has been properly educated regarding mobile crane operations. To Crane Tech it’s not just about getting in the crane and pulling levers. The new operator needs to understand some basics before getting in the seat. These include:

  • General idea of how cranes work
  • Mobile crane stability and proper use of stabilizing methods
  • Load charts and range diagrams
  • Safe lifting practices
  • Power line safety
  • Wire rope construction
  • Daily inspection criteria
  • OSHA/ASME Standards

After that list, you can see in reality learning to operate a crane is not so basic and it about so much more than seat time.

What Does OSHA Say?

The following is the actual wording from Federal OSHA on this matter.

1926.1427(f) Pre-qualification/certification training period. An employee who is not qualified or certified under this section is permitted to operate equipment only as an operator-in-training and only where the requirements of this paragraph are met.

(1) The employer must provide each operator-in-training with sufficient training prior to operating the equipment to enable the operator-in-training to operate the equipment safely under limitations established by this section (including continuous monitoring) and any additional limitations established by the employer.

(2) The tasks performed by the operator-in-training while operating the equipment must be within the operator-in-training’s ability.

(3) While operating the equipment, the operator-in-training must be continuously monitored by an individual (‘‘operator’s trainer’’) who meets all of the following requirements:

(i) The operator’s trainer is an employee or agent of the operator-in-training’s employer.

(ii) The operator’s trainer is either a certified operator under this section, or has passed the written portion of a certification test under one of the options in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section, and is familiar with the proper use of the equipment’s controls.

(iii) While monitoring the operator-in-training, the operator’s trainer performs no tasks that detract from the trainer’s ability to monitor the operator-in-training.

(iv) For equipment other than tower cranes: The operator’s trainer and the operator-in-training must be in direct line of sight of each other. In addition, they must communicate verbally or by hand signals. For tower cranes: The operator’s trainer and the operator-in-training must be in direct communication with each other.

(Note: Underlines added by Crane Tech to emphasize text.)

The Impact of Seat Time

The November 10, 2017 deadline that states, “all operators working in the construction field must be Certified by an accredited crane operator testing organization,” is quickly approaching.  While seat time is important and a new operator must be able to pass a practical exam, don’t under estimate the written portion of certification.  We have found that both experienced and new operators who have not gone through a formal training program usually have knowledge gaps regarding operating standards, federal requirements of their responsibilities, how to interpret load charts correctly, and more.

Remember, Safety through Education is more than just our motto it is our guiding principle. Should you need assistance with either the knowledge portion or the skills portion, we have options to assist you.

  • Qualified Mobile Crane Operator – Course for new and experienced operators that will teach the critical elements of operation for all mobile crane types. Great for new operators who have another opportunity to gain seat-time on their own or for long time operators who have never attended a formal training program.
  • Professional Operator Development – Extensive three week course for new operators that includes the Mobile Crane Operator program, Qualified Rigger Level 1 Course, 1 week of hands-on training, and the NCCCO Prep Course/Exams. Perfect for individuals who want to learn how to operate a mobile crane or those needing knowledge and hands-on training to get ready for CCO certification.
  • NCCCO Certification Prep – Class specifically designed to help prepare experienced and trained operators to gain their CCO operator certification. Provides a review of the regulations, safe operating practices and load charts for the CCO written exams. The program ends with NCCCO written and practical examinations (does not include hands-on training).

Think you are ready for Certification?


Click here to sign up for a FREE NCCCO Practice Test.



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Crane Tech is a NCCCO Platinum Sponsor. We offer a turn-key service for NCCCO training and testing. We will handle all paperwork, processing, training, and testing for one low fee. Call today and find out how easy NCCCO Certification can be with Crane Tech Service.

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