One of the big differences between a mobile crane operator and a fixed crane operator is the need for extra skills. Crane operators in general need to know how to stabilize their cranes, and they need to know how to operate their cranes according to local conditions and with a shifting load. Mobile crane operators in most cases also need to have truck driving skills backed up by a commercial drivers license.
As the name implies, mobile cranes are just that – mobile. The crane is a separate unit that has been fixed to the top of a truck. These trucks generally exceed the limit for a standard drivers license, so a commercial drivers license is needed before the crane operator can move their crane from job to job. Whilst an employer could employ two people to do the job – a crane operator and a truck driver – it makes economic sense to have one person who has the skills to do both.
Mobile crane operators may find themselves doing two or three or more different jobs each day, and these jobs will be in different locations. Being able to drive the crane from job to job is therefore a required skill, as is being able to quickly set up their crane so it can safely undertake the job. Setting up includes placing the truck in the best place, anchoring the crane using special lifts – this may lift the truck off its wheels to prevent any rolling and to ensure the crane is working from an even plane. The smallest tilt in the crane will be magnified at the end of the boom, making for a potentially dangerous situation.
When training to become a mobile crane operator, be sure the training includes the skills necessary to gain a commercial drivers license. Without that commercial drivers license, you could well be an unemployable mobile crane operator.