National Commission for the
Certification of Crane Operators
Committed to Quality, Integrity, and Fairness in Testing since 1995


Dedicated Pile Driver Operator

Practical Exam Outline

The following is an outline of the practical testing procedure, as provided to candidates at the time of testing.


The following sections describe the specific tasks you will be performing when taking the Practical Examination. It is important that you understand these instructions. If there is anything you do not understand, please request clarification from the Examiner.


The seven tasks that make up the Practical Examination are:

There is also a Pre-Test Briefing, an Equipment Walk Around, and a Familiarization Period. You will be required to complete all phases of the test in sequence.

You must report to the Test Site at the scheduled time. All candidates shall comply with Test Site requirements concerning personal protective equipment (PPE), which at a minimum shall meet federal OSHA requirements.

The Test Site Coordinator is responsible for setting the testing schedule. If you are familiar with the operation of the test dedicated pile driver, you may elect to test first to allow other candidates time to review the operator’s manuals and load charts. Otherwise, selection shall be by random drawing or by assignment of the Test Site Coordinator.

During the Practical Examination, you are under the direction of the Examiner and must follow the Examiner’s directions at all times.

Once you have completed all of the tests you are taking, you must leave the testing area. Only personnel involved in the administration of the test are allowed in the test area.


For some tasks optimum time limits have been set. If the task is completed within this time period, you receive no time penalty. Other tasks are untimed, as noted below.

Once you exceed this time limit, however, you will lose points on a gradual basis. The optimum time for each task is stated as part of the task descriptions. At one-and-a-half times the optimum time the Proctor may end the task and move on to the next task.

If Task 3 cannot be completed within twice the optimum time, the Examiner is required to end the test.


While candidates are waiting to take their tests, they will have sufficient time to read this description of the tasks to be performed and review the operator’s manual and load chart for the pile driver they will operate. In addition, they will be informed of the make and model of the dedicated pile driving rig, the boom length, and the weight of the test load. They will also watch a short presentation showing all the tasks they will be required to perform during the examination.

Note that:

  • The dedicated pile driving rig has been set up and leveled. A spirit level is available to verify that the rig is level.
  • None of the target points has been placed at a radius that exceeds the dedicated pile driving rig’s rated capacity.
  • All signals used throughout the test will be in accordance with the Standard Method hand signals.


If, at any time during the Pre-Test Familiarization Period or during the test, you commit an unsafe act, you will be disqualified from continuing with the test. An “unsafe act” is defined as an action by a candidate that is uncontrolled or reckless, and is sufficient to cause safety concern for persons or property damage.

The Examiner has the authority to stop the test at any time for reasons of safety. Please ask the Examiner if you have any questions. If you are disqualified due to an unsafe act, you will not be permitted to take any additional practical exams that day.


Prior to beginning the examination, the Examiner will ask you for a valid (not expired) government-issued photo identification that includes date of birth, such as a driver’s license.

The Examiner will ask you if you have read the Candidate Information and Instructions and will answer any questions you may have. The Examiner will review the weather conditions and ask the candidates to sign indicating that they understand the instructions for the test and that they agree with the Examiner’s assessment of the weather conditions.


The Examiner will use an anemometer to check the wind speed and then will record the weather conditions on the score sheet.

The Examiner has the responsibility to determine if weather conditions or equipment problems are such that a test needs to be suspended. If the test is interrupted due to weather conditions or equipment problems, the procedure for restarting is as follows:

  • You will resume the test at the beginning of the task you were performing at the time of the interruption.
  • You will be entitled to a Pre-Test or Pre-Task Familiarization period before resuming the test.
  • If testing resumes on a different machine, you must start the test over from the beginning. The first score sheet will be marked as “VOID” with an explanation and returned to NCCCO.
  • If the testing is delayed to a different day, the test must be restarted from the beginning.


  • You will be allowed a couple of minutes to walk around the dedicated pile driving rig to ensure proper set-up.


  • You will be asked to identify the five items on the dedicated pile driver that are part of the pre-operational inspection.
  • One at a time, you will describe how you would conduct the inspection and what deficiencies you would look for.
  • You have approximately one minute per item.


  • You will have 15 minutes to familiarize yourself with the equipment and to examine anything on the it that you feel is necessary to operate it comfortably.
  • You will be allowed to get the feel of the controls and run the pile driving rig through its functions. The brakes and other devices have been set according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • You may not interfere with the test course, lift the test weight, or shadow the corridor or the barrels.
  • You must finish the Pre-test Familiarization Period with the load hook under control and over the test weight start point in preparation for attachment within the 15-minute period.
  • The Examiner will notify you when there are ten, five, and one minute(s) remaining.
  • If you are ready in less than 15 minutes, you may indicate this to the Examiner.
  • If, at the end of the Pre-Test Familiarization Period, you feel that you are not ready to take the examination, you should notify the Examiner. You will have, in effect, disqualified yourself from taking the examination at this time, and you will be required to sign to that effect on the candidate score sheet.


Optimum time: 3:00 minutes

  • At the Examiner’s indication to start, at which point timing will begin, raise the test weight at or above eye level to clear all obstacles and personnel.
  • Bring it from the start point over to Designated Area 1 and lower it inside the barrel.
  • Once the line on the test weight has been lowered below the rim of the barrel, the examiner will indicate this to you and signal you to proceed to the next barrel.
  • You will again lower the test weight inside of the barrel at Designated Area 2 and wait for the examiner to give you the signal to proceed to Designated Area 3.
  • You will lower the test weight inside of the barrel at Designated Area 3 so that the line on the test weight has been lowered below the rim of the barrel and hold it in until instructed by the examiner to remove it.
  • Timing stops when the test weight is completely clear of Barrel #3 and the Examiner has given you a final stop signal.
  • Points will be deducted for the following:
    • Weight touching ground outside of designated area
    • Leader contacting tracks
    • Weight not hoisted to operator eye level
    • Knocking over barrel
    • Moving barrel (2 in. or more)
    • Exceeding optimum time


Optimum time: 6:00 minutes*

  • At the Examiner’s indication to start, lift the pile into an upright position, then cap the pile and secure it with the pile guides.
  • Timing stops when the pile is capped and the pile arms have closed around the pile.
  • Points will be deducted for the following:
    • Dragging or contacting pile tip out of box
    • Pile tip kicking out during capping
    • Knocking ball off pole
    • Moving pole base off line
    • Knocking pole over
    • Exceeding optimum time

*Candidates who cannot complete Task 3 within 12 minutes (twice optimum time) will not be allowed to continue on with the remaining parts of the exam.


Optimum time: 3:30 minutes

  • At the Examiner’s indication to start, at which point timing will begin, lift the pile and set it on the ground inside Designated Area 1.
  • The examiner will give you a stop, a hoist and a swing signal to indicate that you may lift the Test Pile and bring it to Designated Area 2.
  • Once the pile has been landed inside Designated Area 2, the Examiner will give you another set of stop, hoist and swing signals to indicate you may proceed to Designated Area 3.
  • Timing stops when the pile has been set down fully inside of Designated Area 3 and the examiner has given you a stop signal.
  • Points will be deducted for the following:
    • Pile touching ground outside of designated area
    • Touching the tracks with the pile or leader
    • Exceeding optimum time


Optimum time: 2:30 minutes

  • At the Examiner’s indication to start, at which point timing will begin, pick up the Test Pile and set the pile head fully on the Pile Driving Plate in preparation for driving the pile.
  • Prepare to initiate the driving sequence at the manual driving setting at lowest energy.
  • DO NOT initiate driving until instructed to by the Examiner.
  • When you are ready to initiate the driving sequence and the pile guides are open, say “done,” at which point timing will end.
  • Your setting will be evaluated by the Examiner prior to proceeding.
  • The Examiner will then instruct you to proceed with the driving sequence.
  • Points will be deducted for the following:
    • Driving energy not set at lowest power
    • Hammer not placed fully on pile
    • Leader is not plumb (± 0.5 degrees in either direction)
    • Ropes are not visibly slack
    • Touching the tracks with the pile or leader
    • Not setting machine in manual mode
    • Exceeding optimum time


Optimum time: 4:30 minutes

  • At the Examiner’s indication to start, at which point timing will begin, pick up the test pile and set the pile head down fully within the square designated area.
  • With the pile head in the square designated area, lower the pile back down so that it rests inside the pole corridor.
  • The Examiner will give you a stop signal when the test pile has been completely lowered to the ground inside the pole corridor.
  • Points will be deducted for the following:
    • Dragging pile tip out of box
    • Touching the tracks with the pile or leader
    • Knocking ball off pole
    • Moving pole base off line
    • Knocking pole over
    • Exceeding optimum time


  • Before leaving the operator station, you will be required to apply safe shutdown procedures to the dedicated pile driver in preparation for the next candidate.
  • Once the dedicated pile driver is shut down, you will leave the operator station and describe to the Examiner the procedures you would follow to secure the machine at the end of the work day.


Once you have completed the practical examination:

  • The Examiner will record your performance.
  • The Examiner is not permitted to review your score sheet or discuss your performance on the test.
  • Exam results will be mailed to you within approximately twelve business days of NCCCO’s receipt of the score sheets from the Examiner.
  • If you have made formal applications to test on any other equipment, return to the candidate briefing area.
  • If you have completed all of your tests, you must leave the test site.


All candidates receive a score report of their performance. Examination results are mailed to candidates approximately 12 business days after the receipt of Practical Examination score sheets by NCCCO.

Both the practical examination and the scoring system have been validated and verified by NCCCO’s pilot testing program. A percentage score of 75 represents the minimum passing score for the Dedicated Pile Driver Operator Practical Examination.