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Mobile Crane Operator

Written Exam - Core Exam Outline

The Core Examination portion of the CCO certification program tests the following knowledge areas relating to the operation of mobile cranes:

Domain 1: Site
(Approximately 20% of the test)

Domain 2: Operations
(Approximately 26% of the test)

Domain 3: Technical Knowledge
(Approximately 28% of the test)

Domain 4: Manufacturers’ Load Charts
(Approximately 26% of the test)


(Approximately 20% of the test)

  1. Know the ability of supporting surfaces to handle the expected loads. Elements of concern include but are not limited to:
    1. Weakness below the surface, such as voids, tanks, and loose fill
    2. Weakness on the surface, such as retaining walls, slopes, excavations, and depressions
    3. Firm, drained, and graded ground conditions for adequate support
  2. Know the proper use of mats, blocking, or cribbing and outriggers or crawlers, as they affect the ability of supporting surfaces to handle the expected loads of the operation.
  3. Know electric power line hazards, corresponding regulations, and safety practices.
  4. Know how to identify and evaluate hazards associated with:
    1. Access to job site
    2. Site hazards, such as underground utilities
    3. Transportation clearances
  5. Know how to review lift requirements with site supervision, including determining working height, boom length, load radius, load weight, crane capacity, travel clearance, extension of crawlers or outriggers/stabilizers, and counterweights.


(Approximately 26% of the test)

  1. Know which federal regulations and industry standards affect safe operation of cranes, including but not limited to ASME B30.5, OSHA 1910.180, and OSHA 1926 Subpart CC.
  2. Know how to conduct shift crane inspections for unsafe conditions/deficiencies and when to notify supervision of these conditions.
  3. Know how to pick, carry, swing, and place the load smoothly and safely on rubber tires and on outriggers/stabilizers or crawlers (where applicable).
  4. Know proper procedures and methods of reeving all wire ropes and methods of reeving multiple-part lines and selecting the proper load block and/or ball.
  5. Know standard method signals as specified in OSHA 1926 Subpart CC.
    1. Hand signals
    2. Voice signals
  6. Know how to shut down and secure the crane properly when leaving it unattended, based on manufacturer’s recommendations in both normal and emergency conditions.
  7. Know the manufacturer’s recommendations for operating in various weather conditions, and understand how environmental conditions affect the safe operation of the crane.
  8. Know how to verify the weight of the load and rigging prior to initiating the lift.
  9. Know how to determine where the load is to be picked up and placed, and know how to verify the radii.
  10. Know basic load rigging procedures.
  11. Know how to perform shift and monthly maintenance and inspection.
  12. Know how to use and understand the requirements for operational aids and safety devices:
    1. LMI
    2. Anti–two block device
    3. Boom angle indicator
    4. Rated load indicator
    5. Boom length indicators
    6. Crane level indicator
    7. Boom and jib stops
    8. Brake locks
    9. Hydraulic outrigger and stabilizer holding/check valve devices
    10. Horn
    11. Boom hoist limiting devices
    12. Luffing jib limiting devices and indicators
    13. Load weighing devices
    14. Outrigger/stabilizer position sensors/monitors
    15. Drum rotation indicators
  13. Know which operations reduce crane capacity or require specific procedures or skills, such as:
    1. Multi-crane lifts
    2. Suspended personnel platforms
    3. Duty cycle operations
    4. Barge operations
  14. Know the proper procedures for operating safely under the following conditions:
    1. Traveling with suspended loads
    2. Approaching two blocking
    3. Operating near electric power lines
    4. Using a suspended personnel platform
    5. Lifting loads from beneath the surface of the water
    6. Using various approved counterweight configurations
    7. Handling loads out of the operator’s vision (“operating in the blind”)
    8. Using electronic communications techniques (e.g., radios) in various weather conditions
    9. Traveling under or near power lines with no load
    10. Swing radius hazards
    11. Prohibitions of free fall
  15. Know proper procedures for load control and the use of handheld tag lines.
  16. Know how to react to:
    1. Electric power line contact
    2. Loss of stability
    3. Control malfunction
    4. Block and line twisting
    5. Carrier or travel malfunction
    6. Personnel under load or in fall zone
  17. Know how to use the outriggers properly in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications.
  18. Know alternative measures when operational aids malfunction.
  19. Know the effects of dynamic loading from:
    1. Wind
    2. Stopping and starting
    3. Impact loading
    4. Moving the load
    5. Traveling with load (pick and carry)
  20. Know the effect of side loading.
  21. Know operator’s authority to stop operations.
  22. Know operator certification requirements.


(Approximately 28% of the test)

  1. Know basic crane terminology and definitions.
  2. Know functions and limitations of the crane and attachments.
  3. Know wire rope:
    1. Construction and breaking strength
    2. Inspection procedures
    3. Replacement criteria and inspection procedures
    4. Capacity and when multi-part rope is needed
    5. Maintenance and lubrication
    6. Relationship between line pull and safe working load
  4. Know rigging devices and their use, such as:
    1. Slings
    2. Spreaders
    3. Lifting beams
    4. Wire rope fittings, such as clips, shackles, and wedge sockets
    5. Saddles (softeners)
    6. Clamps
    7. Hook blocks and overhaul balls
  5. Know the limitations of protective measures against electrical hazards.
  6. Know the effects of load share and load transfer in multi-crane lifts.
  7. Know the significance of the instruments, gauge  readings, and machine power systems.
  8. Know the requirements of shift inspections and maintenance.
  9. Know the uses and limitations of all operational devices/aids.
  10. Know how to calculate net capacity for the crane configuration using the applicable manufacturer’s load chart.
  11. Know how to use manufacturer-approved attachments and their effect on the crane’s operation.
  12. Know the principles of backward stability.
  13. Know requirements for fall protection.
  14. Know requirements for access and egress.
  15. Know the general requirements that apply to assembly/disassembly operations.
  16. Know assembly/disassembly procedures when in proximity to power lines.


(Approximately 26% of the test)

  1. Know the terminology necessary to use load charts.
  2. Know how to ensure that the load chart is the appropriate chart for the machine in its particular application.
  3. Know how to use capacity load charts; this includes knowing:
    1. The operational limitations of load charts and footnotes
    2. The difference between structural capacity and capacity limited by stability
    3. What is included in load chart capacity
    4. The range diagram and its relationship to the load chart
    5. The work area chart and its relationship to the load chart
    6. Where to find and how to use the parts-of-line information
    7. The safe working load of hoist line
  4. Know how to use the load chart together with the load indicators.