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Tower Crane Operator

Certification Overview


 Requirements for certification include the following:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Meet Physical Requirements
  • Comply with CCO's Substance Abuse Policy
  • Pass Written Examination
  • Pass Practical Examination - Candidates must pass the Written and corresponding Practical examinations within a twelve month timeframe.
  • Comply with the Code of Ethics 


CCO certification examinations are designed for operators who are trained and who currently work in crane operation.

Crane-related experience is defined as: operation, maintenance, inspection or training.


Certified crane operators must continue to meet ASME B30.3 physical requirements throughout their certification period and attest to their agreement to those requirement in their application.

Means of compliance with ASME physical requirements include, but are not limited to the following:

  • CCO Physical Examination Form (valid for three (3) years)
  • A current DOT (Department of Transportation) Medical Examiner's Certificate (valid for two (2) years)


The Tower Crane written exam consists of a single examination in Tower Crane operation.  This examination has 55 multiple-choice questions, six (6) of which are load chart questions.  Candidates are allowed 60 minutes to complete the exam.  Candidates meeting eligibility requirements may take the written and practical examinations in any order.


The CCO Practical Examination demonstrating crane operator proficiency may be taken on the following crane types:

  • Hammerhead
  • Luffer
  • Self-Erecting

A candidate must pass both the Written and Practical examinations in order to be certified for a five-year period.


Candidates must pass both Written and Practical Examinations to be certified for a five-year period. The Written and Practical Exams may be taken in either order. Candidates have 12 months from the time they pass their first Written or Practical Exam for each crane type in which to pass the corresponding (Written or Practical) Exam.

Any tests passed within a 12-month period count towards certification. For example, a candidate who fails the Tower Crane Operator Written Exam in January 2011 but passes the Tower Crane Operator Practical Exam in June 2011 has until May 2012 to retake and pass the Tower Crane Operator Written Exam.


CCO certification is valid for five (5) years.  Candidates must complete all of their recertification requirements during the 12 months prior to their expiration date.  This includes:

  • Passing the Written Recertification Examinations
  • Continuing to meet Physical Requirements
  • Compliance with CCO's Substance Abuse Policy
  • Compliance with the Code of Ethics

Candidates who can document at least 1,000 hours crane-related experience during their period of certification do not need to take the practical examination to recertify.  However, candidates who do need to take the Practical examination must do so before their certification expires.  There is no "grace period" after the date of expiration. Candidates whose certification has lapsed must take the full Written and Practical Examinations over again in order to be recertified.

The Tower Crane Recertification Examination consist of 30 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 45 minutes.

Recertification Candidates are allowed two (2) attempts to pass the Written Recertification examination before their certification expires.  Candidates who are unsuccessful after two (2) attempts must take and pass the regular Written Examination.

Certified candidates may take their recertification examination up to one (1) year prior to their date of expiration.  Regardless of the date of the recertification examination within that one year period, the new five-year certification period begins from the date of expiration of the candidate's initial certification.

[Note: Candidates who recertify more than 12 months prior to their expiration date will have their new expiration period begin immediately, not from the end of their current certification period.]

Recertification examinations are available at regularly scheduled test administrations.  Candidates wishing to recertify should contact the Test Site Coordinator who set up the initial certification administration.  Candidates whose employment circumstances have changed should ask their new employer to schedule a test administration.

For more information about recertification, please contact CCO's Recertification Department at (703) 560-2391 or via email at info@nccco.org.


NCCCO’S Ethics and Discipline Committee is responsible for establishing and implementing standards of conduct, such as ethical standards and policies and procedures for disciplinary action. Grounds for revocation of certification status shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Period of certification exceeded without renewal
  2. Evidence of falsification of any information on any documents submitted to NCCCO or its agents
  3. Evidence of non-compliance with NCCCO’s Substance Abuse Policy
  4. Evidence of culpability in an accident during certification period
  5. Evidence of non-compliance with ASME B30 medical requirements
  6. Evidence of non-compliance with the Code of Ethics

NCCCO has established policies and procedures to address alleged violations of the Code of Ethics fairly and consistently. The complaints procedures have been designed to ensure that only valid and actionable complaints are investigated and considered. These procedures also ensure that all parties involved in the complaint have an opportunity to document circumstances warranting the complaint and to respond to the complaint.

NCCCO has a two-tier process to ensure that issues regarding the practice and conduct of certified crane operators are fairly and reasonably investigated and determined, and that the public is protected against unprofessional and unethical conduct by certificants.

Complaints against certificants are initially investigated by NCCCO’s Manager of Test Integrity, who reports to NCCCO’s Ethics and Discipline Committee. If the complaint is considered actionable, the Ethics and Discipline Committee informs both the certificant and the complainant of the official opening of the investigation. Following the investigation of the complaint, the Ethics and Discipline Committee informs the certificant and the complainant of its decision.

If a sanction is imposed, the certificant may request an appeal of the decision to the NCCCO Board of Directors. Appeals should be addressed to:

Executive Director
National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO)
2750 Prosperity Avenue, Suite 505
Fairfax, VA 22031

The decision of the NCCCO Board of Directors is final.


It is the policy of CCO that crane operators shall not use a prescribed or over-the-counter substance which would impair the ability to operate cranes safely.

This includes illegal drugs, controlled substances (including trace amounts), look-alike drugs, designer drugs, or any other substance which may have an effect on the human body of being a narcotic, depressant, stimulant or hallucinogen.

An exception to this rule is that an operator may use such a substance or drug if it is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner who is familiar with the operator's medical history and all assigned duties, and who has advised the operator that the prescribed substance or drug will not adversely affect the operator's ability to safely operate a Tower Crane.

CCO-certified crane operators shall comply with the substance abuse testing provisions of ASME B30.3.

It is a condition of certification that crane operators certified by CCO attest to their compliance with this Substance Abuse Policy. Non-compliance with this policy automatically revokes a candidate's certification status.


Certified operators receive a laminated photo ID card at no cost when they certify for the first time and when they complete the requirements for recertification.

A certified operator may only hold one certification card at a time.  If a candidate has previously certified in Mobile and/or Overhead cranes and subsequently becomes certified in Tower Cranes, (s)he may request an updated certification card.

Updated or replacement cards may be obtained from International Assessment Institute at a cost of $25.00.  To order, contact Jennifer at jennifer@iaiexam.com or 727-449-8525.


If candidates change their address they must notify CCO as soon as possible. Failure to do so may cause candidates to miss important updates on the CCO program that could affect their certification.

Changes of address should be sent to International Assessment Institute (IAI). They must be in writing, but can be sent via letter or fax.  A form is provided for this purpose in the Candidate Handbook.  Forms can be faxed to 727-461-2746 or mailed to:

1960 Bayshore Blvd.
Dunedin, FL 34698

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators gratefully recognizes the sponsors for the Tower Crane Operator Certification Program:

Liebherr Tower Cranes

Manitowoc Crane Group

Morrow Equipment Company

Terex Cranes