Career Map: Hoisting Engineer
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2011
This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment, or royalty of any kind shall be charged for any further use of the fact sheet by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this fact sheet requires a written licence from the Queen’s Printer for Ontario.
A Hoisting Engineer is a person trained to maintain and operate the large cranes needed to lift, move and position heavy materials such as concrete, steel, gravel, construction supplies and machinery. They work at construction and industrial sites, ports, factories, warehouses, dockyards or rail yards.
This is a compulsory regulated trade in Ontario. This means it is compulsory for all workers who wish to practice in this trade attain trade certification. Detailed information on what this means is in this Guide on page 5, in the section on Certification requirements in Ontario.
The hoisting engineers trade is divided into three different categories, each with its own certification requirements:
- Branch 1, Mobile Crane Operators (also known as 339A Mobile Crane operators, unlimited capacity) , maintain and operate mobile cranes capable of raising, lowering or moving material that weighs more than 16,000 pounds (a lifting capacity of more than 15 tons or 13,636 kg.). There are many types of mobile cranes and there are a variety of attachments, that might fall into this category include (but are not limited to:
- pile driving cranes, which drive stakes into the earth to provide support for buildings and other structures
- cranes with dredging attachments to dredge waterways and other areas
- gantry cranes, which load and unload a ship's cargo
- locomotive cranes, which move objects and materials at railway yards
- bridge or overhead cranes, which lift, move and place plant machinery and materials
- offshore oil rig cranes, which unload and reload supply vessels
- cranes mounted on boats or barges, which lift, move and place equipment and materials
- dragline cranes, which expose coal seams and ore deposits at open pit mines.
- Branch 2, Mobile Crane Operators, (also known as 339C Mobile Crane operators) maintain and operate mobile cranes capable of raising, lowering or moving material that weighs more than 16,000 pounds but less than 30,000 pounds (a lifting capacity of eight to 15 tons, or 7,273 kg to 13,636 kg.).
Mobile cranes are mechanical devices with a boom that an operator can move vertically and horizontally. The operator can raise, lower or move a load suspended from the boom by a hook; and are mounted on a mobile base or chassis. They can include a telescoping or articulated boom, but not equipment that is used exclusively for fire-fighting or towing motor vehicles.
- Branch 3, Tower Crane Operators (also known as 339B Tower Crane Operators), maintain and operate tower cranes.
Tower cranes are electricity-powered travelling, fixed or climbing mechanical devices or structures which lift, move, position, or place machinery, equipment, and other large objects. These cranes have a boom, power driven drum and wire rope to raise, lower or move material, and a vertical mast or tower and jib.
With appropriate training, Branch 2 Mobile Crane Operators can advance to Branch 1 Mobile Crane Operators. Likewise, either type of Mobile Crane Operator can advance to Tower Crane Operator.
One might come across other names for the profession. These include boom truck crane operator, bridge crane operator, climbing crane operator, construction crane operator, dragline crane operator, gantry crane operator, hoist operator, and tractor crane operator.
This career map describes how you can be certified as a hoisting engineer in Ontario.
Helpful skills, interests and knowledge
The ability to work outside in any kind of weather.
Comfortable with heights. Tower crane operators spend their working day in an all-weather operator station hundreds of feet in the air.
Good teamwork abilities. To ensure safety, operators need to be able to communicate well with others and respond quickly to audio or hand signals from fellow crew members. Also, in accordance with safety legislation, operators are responsible for inspecting the crane on a daily basis, immediately reporting any deficiencies to their employer, and ensuring the proper repairs have been completed.
Careful work habits. Hoisting engineers must move huge objects, sometimes made of delicate materials such as glass.
Good eye-hand coordination, depth perception, and vision . Hoisting engineers simultaneously work hand and foot pedals and levers, and quickly judge distances and weights.
Mathematical and blueprint-reading skills . Operators have to be able to read and interpret construction plans and blueprints, and calculate crane capacity and weights.
Enjoy working with machines. Operators have to be able to assemble and repair the crane at the job site, load and unload it from its transportation trailer, and physically remove dirt and debris as necessary.
Physical fitness. Physical labor is sometimes required when working on the machines and when climbing a tower.
Competencies required to practise this trade in Ontario
Detailed descriptions of the skills performed by hoisting engineers is outlined in the Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1, Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 2, Apprenticeship Training Standards, Tower Crane Operator, or Tower Crane Operator Branch 3, Apprenticeship Training Standards.
For Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1, they are:
- protect self and others
- conduct pre-operational inspection
- prepare and transport cranes
- plan lifts
- assemble and dismantle the cranes
- perform rigging
- set up cranes
- operate hydraulic cranes
- operate conventional friction cranes
- maintain cranes
For Mobile Crane Operator Branch 2, they are:
- protect self and others
- conduct pre-operational inspection
- prepare and transport crane
- plan lifts
- perform rigging
- set up cranes
- operate cranes
- maintain cranes
For Tower Crane Operators, they are:
- protect self and others
- conduct pre-operational inspections
- plan lifts
- perform rigging
- operate hammerhead cranes
- operate luffer cranes
- climb cranes (internal)
- maintain cranes
Before you immigrate to Canada
Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1, Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 2 and Apprenticeship Training Standards – Tower Crane Operator are useful references if you are unfamiliar with the terminology used and the skills required in Ontario. You can get a copy of these booklets from a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service office in Ontario. (There is a list of these offices starting on page 12 of this Guide.)
To work as a hoisting engineer in Ontario, it is important to gather together as much information as possible that proves your skill level as a hoisting engineer. You will need proof of your training and experience, because you will be evaluated on your skills based on your training and on-the-job experience. Your documentation must include dated letters written on company letterhead from the companies (or unions, if applicable) for whom you worked, stating:
- your job title
- the type and size of equipment you have operated
- the exact start and finish dates of your employment in the trade
- the number of hours you worked
- a detailed description of the skills your demonstrated on the job, and
- a complete description of your job duties
You can also bring along diplomas, certificates, licenses, official school transcripts of your training, a detailed list of the subjects covered in each course and the length of each course, and/or other documents that describe your training and the work tasks you have performed.
Although you are not required to pass an English or French language test when you apply for certification as a hoisting engineer, the job requires excellent language skills in English or French as well as basic math skills. Hoisting engineers in Ontario are required to give and receive instructions, clearly and effectively.
Certification requirements in Ontario
As indicated earlier, this is a regulated trade in Ontario – it is compulsory for all workers to attain trade certification. You can be certified through Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service offices of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
The legislation regulating hoisting engineers is the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act (1981), Regulation 1060, with general regulations under Regulation 1055. These are laws that say it is illegal for anyone in Ontario to do any of the work of a hoisting engineer other than:
- a journeyperson (the holder of a valid license called a Certificate of Qualification, or ‘C of Q’
- the holder of a valid provisional certificate or
- a registered apprentice under the direct supervision of a licensed journeyperson. Apprenticeship is a contract between three parties – a person who wants to learn a skilled trade, an employer who needs a skilled worker, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
To become a hoisting engineer in Ontario, working in all aspects of the trade:
1. The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities requires you to be at least 16 years of age and complete Grade 10 of high school. However, most employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities requires apprentices to complete Grade 12 or the equivalent, and encourages strong mathematics and English or French skills.
2. Then you must do one of the following.
Option A: Enter the trade as a C of Q applicant. This requires that you prove that you have sufficient training and experience from another country to practice the trade in Ontario. There is no automatic certification for internationally trained trades people in any trade in Ontario, but there is an assessment process that evaluates the training and experience of qualified internationally trained trades people. The length of time that it will take you to become certified will depend on how closely your training and experience match the training standards for hoisting engineers in Ontario. It can take as little as six months if you have the equivalent training, or as long as four years if you need to get work experience or to complete an apprenticeship.
To this end, you must:
- Provide documentation of your on-the-job experience for the type of crane you wish to operate, as described earlier. These will be reviewed for eligibility by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. If your application is turned down because you do not have enough qualifying experience, you will need to discuss your options with ministry staff.
- Should you be assessed eligible for the Certificate of Qualification, you have three opportunities to pass a Load Chart Test to demonstrate knowledge of the crane's actual net capacity for possible configurations of the machine. If you fail the Load Chart Test three times, you must register as an apprentice.
- Pass a crane hand signal test, and
- Prove you have the following skills through a Demonstration of Skills Test (DOST):
- perform a pre-operational inspection of the crane
- set up a crane
- operate both hydraulic and conventional / lattice cranes, if you are a mobile crane applicant
- prepare a mobile crane for travel, if you are a mobile crane applicant
- operate a fixed jib or luffing jib crane if you are a tower crane applicant
Option B: Enter the trade as an apprentice.
- There are three different apprenticeship programs for hoisting engineers in Ontario, each requiring an in-school and on-the-job component. You can receive credit for previous training and work experience. You will receive a letter of completion from your employer of record when you successfully complete your apprenticeship. Branch 1, Mobile Crane Operators, or 339A Crane Operators, require:
- Two six-week terms of school –to study the fundamentals of safety, equipment characteristics and operational practices that apply to mobile cranes, and get hands-on practice in the basic skills of mobile crane operation and maintenance, plus
- 6,000 hours (at least three years, up to six years) of on-the-job apprenticeship training.
- Branch 2, Mobile Crane Operators, or 339C Mobile Crane operators require:
- A six-week term of school to study operations plus
- 1,000 hours (six months to a year) of on-the-job apprenticeship training.
- Branch 3, Tower Crane Operators, or 339B Tower Crane Operators, require:
- one six-week term of school which provides the fundamentals of safety, equipment characteristics and operational practices that apply to tower cranes, plus hands-on practice in hammerhead / fixed jib and luffing jib tower crane operation and maintenance.
- 4,000 hours (at least two years) of on-the-job apprenticeship training.
3. When you have completed either Option A or Option B (with a letter of completion), and have paid the required fee, apply to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to write the trade exam to receive your Certificate of Qualification (C of Q).
4. When you pass the trade exam (you need a grade of 70% or higher), you will receive a C of Q.
5. Operators must have a driver’s license classified A-Z or D-Z, which allows them to drive vehicles larger than passenger cars and equipped with air brakes on public roadways.
When you arrive in Ontario
The Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities’ Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service offices process all applications for trade certification in Ontario. When you arrive in Ontario, contact the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service office in your area and make an appointment to see an apprenticeship training consultant. If you haven’t already requested a copy of Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1, Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 2 and Apprenticeship Training Standards – Tower Crane Operator, Branch 3, you can get them from the office.
Step 1. Meeting an Apprenticeship Training Consultant
The apprenticeship training consultant will ask you for documentation that describes your past work experience and training. Take as many of these documents as possible, as well as your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to this first meeting.
If these documents are in a language other than English or French, bring a translation that is signed by a registered translator, a notary public, or a lawyer.
The apprenticeship training consultant will review these documents and compare your work experience to the requirements for certification as a hoisting engineer in Ontario.
Step 2. Assessment of Your Previous Training and Experience
The government apprenticeship training consultant will assess your training and experience and determine if you need further training and experience in your trade before you write the Certificate of Qualification exam.
Training and Work Experience. If required, you can enter into an apprenticeship contract to get on-the-job training. This will require that you find an employer to hire you as an apprentice. You will then register your apprenticeship agreement with a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service office.
Union members can find employment by contacting the IUOE, Local 793 (also listed in the telephone directory). Others can look in the Yellow Pages (the telephone directory for businesses) and introduce themselves to potential employers, or through advertisements at employment agencies or in local newspapers. Employers sometimes place job ads at government employment agencies.
Step 3. Application for the Certificate of Qualification
When you have met the requirements for certification, you may apply for the Certificate of Qualification.
Step 4. Provisional Certificate of Qualification
After you complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification, and have passed the Load Charts and Demonstration of Skills Test (DOST), you will receive a Provisional Certificate of Qualification (a temporary license). This allows you to work for up to ninety days until you write the exam for the Certificate of Qualification. You must write the exam within this time.
Step 5. Exam Preparation
The Certificate of Qualification exam is based on the skills that hoisting engineers need to succeed in the workplace. The content of the exam is based upon skills and experience acquired on the job.
The best way to prepare for the exam is to make sure that you can perform all the skills described in Apprenticeship Training Standards – Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1, Apprenticeship Training Standards, Mobile Crane Operator Branch 2, Apprenticeship Training Standards, or Tower Crane Operator, Branch 3, Apprenticeship Training Standards. Study the competencies and be sure that you can explain the theory behind each task. The following readings are also recommended for preparation for the exam:
- Mobile Craning Today (2002 edition)
The Handbook for Crane Operators, Riggers and Supervisors
French version: Grues Mobiles d'Aujourd'hui (there are also Spanish and Portuguese translations for use in other countries.
Published by the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario.
- Mobile Crane Manual , by Donald E. Dickie, P. Eng., D. H. Campbell, P. Eng. for Construction Safety Association of Ontario.
- Rigging Manual , by Donald E. Dickie, P. Eng. for Construction Safety Association of Ontario.
- IPT Crane and Rigging Handbook , by Ronald G. Garby
- Ontario Health and Safety Association (OHSA) Regulations – Construction
- OHSA Regulations – Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Safety (WHMIS)
- Hand Signals for Hoisting Operations
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Mobile Cranes Z150 – 04
- CSA Tower Cranes Z248 – 04
In Ontario, these books are available at community college libraries and bookstores, and possibly at local libraries or general bookstores. The apprenticeship training consultant may be able to give you the titles of other helpful publications.
Step 6. Certificate of Qualification Exam
This exam is available year-round, usually by appointment. You can arrange a date to write it during your meeting with an apprenticeship training consultant, or you can call the Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service office to make an appointment to write the exam within 90 days of your application. You must show photo ID on the day of the exam.
Description of the Exam. The Certificate of Qualification exam is a written exam with multiple-choice questions. You will receive an exam plan which is a breakdown of topic areas, such as safety, rigging, etc. These questions test your practical knowledge of workplace procedures and tasks. You are allowed three hours to complete the exam.
Readers/Translators. If you have difficulty with English, you are allowed to bring a reader with you. Readers can be anyone whose English skills are strong; they may be relatives, friends, or interpreters from your community. Readers can translate the parts of the exam that you don’t understand, but they are not allowed to help you answer the questions. Readers must sign a statement that they do not have any training or experience in the trade. The exam is highly technical; make sure that you choose someone who knows English well, but does not have knowledge of the hoisting engineer trade.
Dictionaries, calculators, pencils, erasers, and paper are available at the exam centre. If you bring your own dictionary, you will be asked to submit it to the exam supervisor for inspection.
Pass Mark. The pass mark for the exam is 70 per cent. Passing the C of Q exam for Mobile Crane Operator Branch 1 ( 339A Mobile Crane Operator) will entitle you to a Red Seal on your certificate Canada ’s Red Seal Program is an inter-provincial certification that allows trades people to work in most other Canadian provinces and territories. It allows qualified trades persons to practice the trade in any province or territory in Canada where the trade is designated.
Rewriting Failed Exams. Your exam results will be mailed to you. The results letter will detail the score as a percentage for each section of the exam, so if you are not successful on the exam, you will know which areas you need to improve. If you fail the exam, you can rewrite it after 15 days. If you fail the exam three times and wish to write the examination again, you will need to meet with a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship Client Service Training consultant or training officer for assistance with decision-making.
Step 7. Certificate of Qualification
Once you pass the exam, your Certificate of Qualification will be mailed to you. Hoisting engineers must renew their certificates once every three years. The renewal fee is $60.
Training and Upgrading
You may need or choose to take upgrading courses to help you prepare for the exam or stay current in the profession. Durham College and the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) are Ministry-approved to deliver training to hoisting engineers. Some community agencies may offer special training courses for internationally trained hoisting engineers.
Apprentices who have completed their in-school and job-related training can take the OETIO Theory Refresher course to review the knowledge requirements for hoisting engineers.
Durham College offers safety and mobile crane courses, and the OETIO provides a wide range of courses, including safety courses, for operating engineers including mobile, tower and overhead crane operators. Community colleges, trade schools, unions, and other associations also offer training and upgrading courses.
Labour Market Information
Employers of hoisting engineers include:
- residential or commercial building developers
- building construction firms
- construction site maintenance firms
- primary steel producers
- electric power companies
- waste materials wholesalers
- metal and metal products wholesalers
- railway companies
- cargo handling companies
- large manufacturing companies
- heavy construction firms
- rental companies
- cargo handlers
- docks or ports
- industry (to load and unload ships, trains, or to move materials at an industrial site).
Employment prospects for this occupation are average. Opportunities should be good for individuals who acquire apprenticeship training. The prospects depend to a large degree on the economy and on construction activity, which has been growing over the past five years.
In a unionized environment, the average salary for an apprentice hoisting engineer rises regularly, on an annual basis. Mobile crane operator apprentices Branch 1 of the trade start at 50% of a journeyperson's (certified tradesperson's) wages during the first period, increase to 65% during the second period and 80% during the third period. Tower crane apprentices start at 50% of a journeyperson's wages in the first period, and increase to 75% of a journeyperson's wages during the second period (depending on whether their employer is in Branch 3 or Branch 1 of the trade respectively). In a unionized environment, the exact rates may vary somewhat from the above, depending on the specific collective agreement.
The salary for hoisting engineers varies according to the workplace and local labour market conditions, the type of equipment you choose, your experience, and so on. Junior Operators may start at $35,000 per year and increase with expertise and experience to a range of $75,000 to $90,000 annually. According to Canada Job Futures, average hourly wages for the profession in 2001 were $20.06.
To best identify wage ranges for your area, refer to your local yellow pages, and contact both union and non-union companies. A local Human Resources and Skills Development Canada office may be able to provide more specific numbers for your area.
For more information on labour market conditions, see Ontario Job Futures at www.ontariojobfutures.net. In Ontario, this information is also available in the Ontario Job Futures binder at public libraries.
Related Trades and Occupations
Many internationally trained individuals apply to become hoisting engineers in Ontario. Although there may be many similarities between what you did in your country of origin and the skills required in Ontario, you should not be surprised if your application to become certified as a hoisting engineer is not accepted. You may be qualified, for instance, to be a heavy equipment operator rather than a hoisting engineer. Applicants must show proof that they have the work experience of a hoisting engineer.
Other related occupations include heavy equipment operator ( backhoe, bulldozer, excavator, tractor, side boom tractor, gradall, grader, loader, and surface mining equipment operators); heavy construction equipment supervisor; heavy equipment mechanic; power line worker; mining, quarrying, oil or gas supervisor; underground miners; logging machine operator; material handler; oil and gas driller; longshore worker; mine service worker and operator in oil and gas drilling; blaster; public works maintenance equipment operator; underground production and development miner; boom truck operator; bridge crane operator.
MTCU apprenticeship Client Service Offices in Ontario
Last updated January 31, 2011
|Barrie||55 Cedar Point Dr.
Barrie, ON L4N 5R7
|Belleville||135 North Front St.
Belleville, ON K8P 3B5
|Brantford||505 Park Rd. N., Ste. 201
Brantford, ON N3R 7K8
|Chatham||870 Richmond St. W.
Chatham, ON N7M 5J5
|Cornwall||132 Second St. E., Ste. 202
Cornwall, ON K6H 1Y4
|Hamilton Central||Ellen Fairclough Building
119 King St. W., 5th Flr.
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y7
|Kenora||227 1/2 Second St. S.
Kenora, ON P9N 1G4
|Kingston||299 Concession St., Ste. 201
Kingston, ON K7K 2B9
|Kitchener||4275 King St. E., Ste. 200
Kitchener, ON N2P 2E9
|London||217 York St., Ste. 201
London, ON N6A 5P9
|Mississauga||The Emerald Centre
10 Kingsbridge Garden Cir., Ste. 404
|North Bay||447 McKeown Ave., Ste. 104
North Bay, ON P1B 9S9
347 Preston St., 3rd Flr.
Ottawa, ON K1S 3H8
|Owen Sound||Service Ontario Building
1450 1st Ave. W., Ste. 100
Owen Sound, ON
|Pembroke||400 Pembroke St. E.
Pembroke, ON K8A 3K8
|Peterborough||901 Lansdowne St. W.
|Pickering||1420 Bayly St., Unit 1
Pickering, ON L1W 3R4
150 Christina St. N., Main Flr.
Sarnia, ON N7T 7W5
|Sault Ste. Marie||Roberta Bondar Place
70 Foster Dr., Ste. 150
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
|St. Catharines||Garden City Tower
301 St. Paul St., 10th Flr.
St. Catharines, ON
|Sudbury||159 Cedar St., Ste. 506
Sudbury, ON P3E 6A5
|Thunder Bay||189 Red River Rd., 1st Flr., Suite. 103
Thunder Bay, ON
5520 Hwy. 101
South Porcupine, ON
|Toronto Central||625 Church St., 1st Flr.
Toronto, ON M7A 2B8
3155 Howard Ave., 2nd Flr., Ste. 200
Windsor, ON N8X 4Y8
For More Information
For information on certification requirements and training in Ontario, contact:
Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities – training hotline (no charge in Ontario): 1-800-387-5656; Toronto 416-326-5656
The MTCU apprenticeship office in your community (see the addresses and fax and telephone numbers listed above)
Government-approved centres for hoisting engineer apprenticeship training
The Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO) and Durham College both offer crane apprenticeship programs on behalf of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU), to apprentices who are residents of Ontario. Upon successful course completion, you will receive a wall certificate and wallet card stating that you have successfully completed formal crane training.
The Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario, founded in 1982 as a labour/management initiative, trains personnel for Ontario’s construction industry served by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), Local 793, graduating 250-300 crane and heavy-equipment operators each year. For further information, contact:
Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario (OETIO)
P.O. Box 636 , Lot 12580 , Cty Rd. #2,
Morrisburg , Ontario, Canada K0C 1X0
Telephone: (613) 543-2911
Fax: (613) 543-4249
Durham College has offered training for the hoisting engineer apprenticeship program since 1995, graduating 50 crane operators each year. For further information, contact:
Whitby Skills Training Centre
1610 Champlain Ave
Whitby ON L1N 6A7
Program information: 905-721-3344
For general information, contact:
This site includes information about the construction industry and profiles of apprentices and journeypersons
For information on where to get help once you arrive in Ontario, contact:
OCASI can provide information about settlement agencies in your community and about community agencies that may offer special training courses for internationally trained hoisting engineers.
For information on settling in Ontario, visit www.settlement.org
For information about accessing professions and trades in Ontario, contact:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866–388-2262