In a time marked by COVID-19 and all the implications of social distancing, more and more crane operators, riggers and signalpersons are looking to gain their NCCCO certifications online.

Traditionally, preparation courses for these certification exams have taken place in a classroom environment. Instructors have delivered their information and experience face-to-face, set tailored exercises, and been there for students who need additional help along the way.

As the coronavirus pandemic creates new norms for society, these traditional ways of teaching are being phased out for the meantime, leaving students in need of their NCCCO certification with limited options.

In this article, we’ll cover exactly what those options are and how to go about getting your NCCCO certification online and in person.

What is NCCCO Certification?

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) certifications are considered the gold standard throughout the crane and lifting industry.

In 1999 the NCCCO was recognized by OSHA as the first crane certification body to provide examinations that meet federal requirements. It has subsequently administered over 1.2 million written and practical exams in its nationwide test centers that number more than the other certification bodies combined. It offers over 20 certification designations across 11 categories, all of which meet or exceed federal, state and industry standards including OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC and ASME B30.

Since 2007, its programs have been accredited by ANSI to the ISO/IEC 17024 International Standard for organizations that certify personnel.

To be certified by the NCCCO, operators, riggers, signalpersons and lift directors must take a written exam and a practical exam. Upon successful completion of both, applicants will receive their CCO certification to present to their employers.

How to Prepare Online for Your NCCCO Certification Written Exam

1. Find an online provider

Although the majority of crane training providers are yet to offer online classes, there are a few companies that are set up to offer online preparation for NCCCO certification examinations.

Thankfully, some of the leg work has been done by the NCCCO. They list on their website several vendors of online training.

A simple Google search for “online NCCCO certification” will give you similar results.

2. Research what they offer

Of course, not all online training is of equal value, quality, or format. Make sure you know exactly what you get for your purchase. Consider asking these questions before you buy:

  • What programs are offered?
  • Is the training designed to prepare me for the NCCCO examination?
  • Is the class a recorded, self-paced webinar, or live?
  • What access will I have to an instructor?
  • What do I do if I need help?
  • Will I be learning alongside other students, or working on my own?

For example, some vendors limit their programs to a select few subjects. A little more digging and you’ll find that these are often in-house certifications.

Most who offer preparation specifically for the NCCCO exams, do so through recorded webinars. In one case, the training is 900 pages of recorded narration for the student to work through.

CICB, however, live streams every one of its online classes, giving students personal access to instructors along the whole journey. The training is paced for the students in the class, and trainees continuously interact with the instructor, asking questions and receiving targeted help as they work through NCCCO-style questions.

3. Attend the class

Whether the class is self-paced or live, you’ll need access to a laptop, tablet or phone, a reliable internet connection and, preferably, a quiet place to study. A live and interactive online class will mean you need a webcam and headphones with a mic.

Most live classes use a live-streaming service like Zoom, which allows the instructor both to see you and be seen by you, as well as to share his screen with you for things like slideshows, pictures and videos.

You can find out exactly how that works by visiting our blog post on Zoom.

4. Find a testing venue

Training with a strong and established organization will mean you can confidently take your CCO exam. This final component is the only part that cannot currently be done online. Instead, candidates have the choice of paper or computer-based testing. These are offered at sites across the country (for example, at CICB’s Houston and Orlando facilities).

As of 4/2, please note that the NCCCO’s provider of computer-based testing (PSI) has closed its doors temporarily due to COVID-19. However, many providers are still open for paper-based testing.

5. Study for the test

Ideally, you will take the test as close to the end of your training as possible. With live and interactive training, you will know exactly when that is and be able to plan accordingly. The challenge of self-paced, recorded webinars will be to be disciplined enough to study a certain amount each day and be ready for whenever you book the test.

As you browse providers, notice whether they offer you refresher classes in the event that testing venues nearby are closed. CICB provide half-day refreshers (online and in-person) if there is a large gap between your training and your NCCCO certification exam.

Find Out More About Your NCCCO Certification Today

Preparing for your NCCCO certification examination online is a good and sensible step – particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. Avoiding unnecessary social contact, you will nevertheless get the benefit of rigorous training and great student-teacher interaction, assuming you choose your program wisely.

If you need more help as you think about online crane training, check out our definitive article here or watch our five-minute explainer video.


Ready to consider vendors? Start your research with CICB and choose from our live and interactive online programs. No recordings, no unguided videos – just direct engagement from a dedicated instructor.

*CICB endorses the national certification program offered by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and provides training to prepare candidates for CCO examinations.