Today’s restrictions on movement and gathering have meant most of us can no longer learn the traditional way – in a classroom.

Instead, the move to online learning has accelerated. Remote learning for the lifting industry has taken on increased importance as companies continue to demand safe and compliant operations.

For many operators, riggers, signalpersons and lift directors, studying at home or in an office presents several challenges they wouldn’t face in a classroom setting. The ability to self-study is more important now than ever before. In this article, you’ll learn 13 tips to implement today to make sure you get the most out of your online training.

What is Self-Study?

For most of us, school was a long time ago. ‘Studying’ is not a word we use much anymore. ‘Self-studying’ is one we may never have used. But it is a crucial skill for anyone wanting to study online for their NCCCO certification.

How you choose to take your online crane training will differ from person to person. But regardless of what you choose, there will always be an element of studying on your own for successful students. CCO certification exams are never easy.

Provided you pick an excellent trainer, you’ll be well on your way to success. Inevitably, though, your chances of success will rise and fall on your commitment to studying for the test on your own time, in your own space, at your own pace.

Thankfully, studying doesn’t have to be so hard. Here are 13 principles to set you up for success.

How Can I Self-Study?

1. Self-evaluate

What problems have you faced in the past when you’ve tried to study by yourself? It’s likely that those problems will come up again. Prepare yourself for them and have a strategy to overcome those challenges. You may find that the following steps will be enough.

2. Check your environment

Your environment is key to your ability to self-study well. Attempting load chart problems with Netflix in the background is unlikely to work. Memorizing rigging terms when you’re lying on a soft pillow will be equally unhelpful. And getting anything done when others are around, talking around you and to you, is next to impossible. So make sure your study environment is:

  • Quiet
  • Isolated
  • Well-lit
  • Free of distraction
  • Equipped (pens, highlighters, notebooks, etc.)

3. Set goals

First and foremost, your goal is to pass whatever exam your crane training is preparing for you. To meet large goals, it helps to first set small goals. What small steps can you take to get to that ultimate goal of passing the certification exam? Your goals should be SMART:

  • Specific – not general, not vague. Should answer the question, “why?”
  • Measurable – put a number to it. Hours, words, modules. Whatever makes sense for you.
  • Attainable – it’s not realistic to learn everything you need to learn for the NCCCO Mobile Crane Operator exam in one hour. Don’t make unhelpful demands of yourself.
  • Relevant – if the goal doesn’t help you get to your big goal of passing the CCO certification exam, it’s not a goal worth having.
  • Timely – put a time limit on it. Usually these will be imposed by your company or the date of the exam.

4. Know your learning style

Knowing how you learn is so important, we wrote an entire article on it. To study successfully, outfit your environment with tools that complement your learning style. Visual learners: bring colors. Verbal learners: develop a note-taking style. Kinesthetic learners: get a model crane. Do whatever it takes to succeed.

5. Manage time

Everyone’s busy. And no matter how dedicated you may be to your online training, if you don’t schedule time for it, it won’t happen. So block out time. Treat it like work. Prioritize it. Put it in your calendar. If you have a choice as to when to study (i.e., it’s not ‘live’), then schedule for the time during the day when you’re most awake and alert.

6. Short, frequent sessions

Again, where you have the option, schedule your studying time in short, frequent sessions. Know your attention span and study accordingly.

7. Study every day

The wider the gap between each session, the less likely you are to remember what you’ve learned and even to finish the program. Block out time every single day, study every day, and get to that certification exam as quickly and as confidently as possible.

8. Partner up

Studying doesn’t have to be a lonely activity. There is huge value in buddying up. In particular, studies show that teaching what you’ve been taught is the fastest, most effective way to learn something. So find someone who’ll listen, and teach them what you’re learning.

9. Take notes

Depending on your learning style, these could even just be doodles. Committing ideas to paper dramatically improves your concept retention. It also gives you something to refer to when you’re studying outside the virtual classroom.

10. Highlight

Quality crane training programs will provide you not just with an online component, but also study materials, whether a physical textbook or a PDF. Highlight and annotate the materials. This kind of interaction will boost your self-study success.

11. Review same day

Our memories are not always what we’d like them to be. One great strategy to commit what you’ve learned to memory is to review your notes at the end of each day and summarize them. There are all kinds of benefits to analyzing and personalizing your learning, not least the fact that you’ll remember it much longer.

12. Research around topic

Don’t let your studying end in the classroom. Develop a passion for the subject material. Search YouTube for videos on crane inspection. Read blog posts on crane operations. Look at photos of giant crawler cranes. Become an expert yourself and enjoy doing it.

13. Talk to experts

Experts love to share the knowledge they have. Quality crane training programs will give you access to those subject matter experts. Take advantage. Reach out by text, phone or email and ask those questions you just can’t get your head around.

Motivation & Commitment

The motivation is there – you already know why you’re studying online. Certification, compliance, skill-building, personal development. The how is harder. Follow these 13 steps and you can confidently take the certification examination at the end of your course. If you need more information on studying online for your crane certification, check out our definitive guide here.


  1. Master Your Environment – create a place where you can and want to study
  2. Master Your Time – dedicate the right amount of time and stick to it
  3. Master Your Style – study in a way that meets your needs
  4. Master Your Relationships – isolate but don’t miss opportunities to learn


Now you’re ready to study, the time is ripe to enroll in your online crane training program. CICB offers a variety of online courses for you to choose from. Sign up today and put your new skills into practice. Put in the effort now and look forward to celebrating success.

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