If you love working with machinery, and would prefer a hands-on type of job, becoming a crane operator could be the perfect career for you. If you look into how to start this career, you will notice that taking the NCCCO exam is considered a necessary step. NCCCO, which stands for The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, was formed in 1995. The intention of NCCCO is to ensure the safest operations, reduce risk, and set effective performance standards to assist all segments of general industry and construction.
So in order to successfully be a crane operator, you have to take the NCCCO exams to become CCO certified. Doing so helps to ensure that everything will run as smoothly as possible while you’re working.
Most states now require crane operators to receive CCO certification. But even in the states that don’t, many employers have made CCO certification mandatory. By having that certification, it lets employers know that you have the right skills and knowledge to be a smart hire.
Now that you see how necessary taking this exam is, your next question may be, what can you do to make sure you will pass? And, as you expected, preparing as much as you possibly can will always be your best bet.
Luckily, there are helpful resources available out there. Before you take the exam, here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare:
First of all, you should understand exactly what the test entails. There are two parts to it, a written and practical exam. You can take them in whatever order you want, but they must both be completed within 12 months of each other.
The written exam can either be taken with paper and pencil or computer-based. It really just depends on your preference as both have the same length and content. Both the written and the practical exams are timed. Crane operators themselves played a central role in developing the certification programs, and the written exam questions are based on what they consider crucial to know.
Don’t go in cold. If you don’t have much experience yet, you will need to have some training. As NCCCO states in its Candidate Handbook, the exams are meant for those who are already trained and currently work in crane operations.
Even if you do have some experience, taking a class is always a good idea. It will not be in your best interest to just go in assuming you know everything about cranes. You will need to learn about the OSHA and ASME rules and regulations, as well as industry best practices. NCCCO emphasizes the importance of proper training to pass the test and achieve certification on its website. It will ultimately help you feel the most confident when you take the exam. For example, if you are the type of person who feels anxious taking tests, especially ones that are timed, the classes include practice timed tests.
Research your options for training. NCCCO itself does not offer training, though they do include a list of training providers on the NCCCO website. One of these providers listed is West Coast Training in Woodland, and you can find more information on their website. For experienced crane professionals preparing for the NCCCO exam, West Coast Training offers training seminars and practical exam services.
Your first instinct may be that, as a working professional, you don’t have time to take a seminar. But these are offered with your type of busy schedule in mind. The NCCCO Tower Crane Operator Certification Seminar and the NCCCO Written Exam Preparation Seminar are each 30 hours. The NCCCO Written Exam Preparation takes place over three ten-hour days and covers OSHA sub-part regulations, ANSI B30.5, safety, and load charts. WCT is also a test site for the NCCCO practical exam.
Become familiar with the Candidate Handbook. NCCCO requests that candidates read that entire handbook before applying. You can find all the other handbooks and forms you need on the NCCCO website, where you can download them for free. The handbooks will be a vital resource for taking the exam. They include outlines for both the written and practical exams, as well as practice sample questions. For the practical exam, the outline shows you both the tasks you will be performing and the time limits for each section.
Study up on load charts. An essential part of the exam is solving load chart problems. NCCCO states that load charts are the section that candidates are most likely to fail. Some candidates rely on a computer in the crane, so when it comes to actually solving a load chart during the test, they are stumped. Often, taking a class will help with this, as they also provide load charts and sample problems. You can also find plenty of load charts and sample problems on NCCCO’s website.
If at first you don’t succeed, you can try again. So, what if your worst-case scenario happens, and you don’t pass the test? Well, there is no need to panic. There is no limit for how many times initial candidates can take the exam before they pass. And if you take the paper/pencil test, you can register to take another one right away. If you take the computer-based test, you only have to wait three business days before applying to take another one.
Ultimately, as you can see, the purpose of the certification is help you to be the best, most successful crane operator you can possibly be. Once you do pass the test, however, that doesn’t mean the certification is good forever. The certification lasts for five years, after which you will need to take a written renewal exam to recertify. NCCCO will send you a packet a year before your certification is up, so you have time to prepare to take the exam again.
And even if you passed the test five years ago, you should still read the handbooks and take a course in order to brush up. Rules and regulations can and do change in five years, so it’s always in your best interest to make sure your knowledge and skills are up to date.
I didn’t know that crane operators are required to get CCO certifications in most states. I’ll double-check what my state says. And then hire an operator that has the right certifications.