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


Drill Rig Operator

Written Exam - Exam Outline

The Written examination (Core + Specialty) portion of the CCO Drill Rig Operator certification program tests the following knowledge areas relating to the operation of drill rigs:

Domain 1: Pre-Operations/Site Conditions
(Approximately 23% of the test)

Domain 2: Operations
(Approximately 34% of the test)

Domain 3: Technical Knowledge
Approximately 31% of the test)

Domain 4: Tooling
(Approximately 4% of the test)

Domain 5: Communications
(Approximately 8% of the test)


(Approximately 23% of the test)

  1. Perform pre-work assessments—rig assessments and jobsite assessments.
  2. Assess jobsite to identify (potential) hazards posed by existing structures.
    1. Assess jobsite to identify (potential) hazards posed by proximity to existing structures
    2. Assess jobsite to identify (potential) hazards overhead
    3. Verify/assess depths of existing foundations
  3. Complete jobsite assessment.
    1. Before getting on rig, what do you do? Include this in the reference manual
  4. Inspect work platforms to ensure they are ready for safe operation.
    1. On surface
  5. Assess/predict factors that will affect the stability of the drill rig.
  6. Verify utilities have been located on job-site.
    1. Interpret markings of utilities (above and below ground). Dig alert
    2. Verify safe working distances from utilities – different types of utilities (underground [markings], above ground [distance?])
  7. Assess ground conditions.
    1. Assess electric power line hazards prior to assembly/disassembly
  8. Conduct and/or participate in Pre-shift/Pre-operational Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) meetings.
    1. Identify the purpose of the JHA
    2. Assess jobsite to identify potential hazards
    3. Conduct (complete) a JHA
  9. Prepare and/or interpret written Job Hazard Analyses (JHA).


(Approximately 34% of the test)

  1. Assess loading and unloading areas for potential hazards (ground conditions, utilities, existing structures, traffic, other).
    1. Identify the process to stage equipment
    2. Identify elements of assembly/disassembly
    3. Identify sequence of assembly/disassembly
  2. Travel (Tram) on jobsite to drilling location(s). Mobilization (on-site travel).
  3. Identify and explain the use and the function of safety devices.
  4. Identify the basic configurations of equipment.
  5. Explain personnel safety requirements called for during drilling operations.
  6. Identify and control the area of influence of the drill rig.
    1. Secure shaft
  7. Identify personal protection equipment (PPE) best practices
  8. Interpret load charts (stability charts/lift capacity).
    1. Verify (manufacturer specifications of equipment) dimensions, weights, center of gravity of the drill
  9. Inspect the drill for unsafe conditions
    1. Preform pre-operational inspections
    2. Verify/determine documentation required to report rig condition/deficiencies (damage report).
    3. Verify/determine when and who to notify regarding inspection deficiencies.
    4. Inspect wire ropes and explain removal criteria for wire rope.
  10. Use information found in the operator’s manual.
  11. Confirm (using operator manual) manufacturer approved attachments.
  12. Implement safe drill rig set up procedures.
    1. Set outriggers and stabilize base with proper supporting materials.
    2. Boom up and verify swing radius (tail and front).
    3. Install tool and other attachments.
    4. Establish and maintain controlled access zone.
    5. Accurately set up on the center of the shaft.
  13. Situational awareness
  14. Maintain or adjust drilling procedures in response to changing conditions
    1. Weather
    2. Soil
    3. Rock
    4. Ingress water (groundwater)
    5. Platform stability
    6. Obstructions
    7. The public
    8. Vehicle traffic
    9. Other trades
    10. Spoil removal
    11. Rebar cage
    12. Inspectors
  15. Identify emergency procedures for:
    1. Electric power contact
    2. Loss of stability
    3. Control malfunction
    4. Carrier travel malfunction
    5. Overload
    6. Fire
    7. Flooding
    8. Fall into shaft
    9. Injury
    10. Hazardous material spill/leak
  16. Explain operator authority to stop operations.
  17. Identify proper shutdown/secure procedures when leaving drill rig unattended.
    1. During a break
    2. End of day
  18. Maintain or adjust drilling procedures in response to changing conditions.
  19. Identify the use and function of safety devices.
    1. Horn
    2. Level indicator (if applicable)
    3. Emergency stop (if applicable)
    4. Other


(Approximately 31% of the test)

  1. Verify/determine equipment specifications/capacities based on operating manuals.
  2. Interpret capacity/stability charts (if applicable) load charts (stability charts/lift capacity).
  3. Identify the location of various manufacturer manuals (operator manual, other) and what information can be found in them.
  4. Identify the components of rigging principles.
  5. Compare basic rigging devices and procedures.
  6. Explain the basic uses of hooks or swivels.
  7. Explain the proper uses of wire rope and sheaves.
    1. Explain types/designations of wire rope and sheaves.
    2. Explain replacement criteria for wire rope and sheaves.
    3. Explain maintenance procedures for wire rope and sheaves.
  8. Explain the relationship between line pull and Working Load Limit (WLL) of running rope, slings and hardware.
  9. Explain the relationship between line pull and safe working load of running ropes.
  10. Perform inspections.
    1. Hydraulics
    2. Structural
    3. Wire rope
    4. Controls
    5. Operational aids
    6. Fluid levels
    7. Electrical
    8. Mast
    9. Rotary
    10. Drilling equipment
    11. Outriggers
    12. Frequency
  11. Perform basic maintenance/service
    1. Snapshot of manufacturers manual with associated questions
    2. Wire rope
  12. Recognize organizations that have developed regional/national regulations or industry standards, including:
    1. OSHA
    2. ASME
    3. ANSI
    4. CSA
    5. Other
  13. Describe the purpose of standards.
  14. Interpret capacity or stability charts.
    1. Explain/identify conditions that effect capacity
  15. Identify, compare, contrast, and distinguish functions and limitations of various types of drill rigs and tool attachments (as found in manufacturers manuals).
    1. Verify required inspection documentation
    2. Verify/determine when and who to notify of inspection deficiencies
  16. Read gauges.
    1. Level indicators
    2. Hydraulics
    3. Fuel
    4. Other
  17. Explain the requirements for access and egress of the drill rig.
    1. Three points of contact
  18. Verify that operational aids and safety devices are functioning properly (pre-op inspection).
  19. Explain alternative measures if operational aids/safety devices fail—if applicable (place out of service).


(Approximately 4% of the test)

  1. Inspect the working condition of the tool (initial and ongoing).
  2. Verify that tooling has been properly installed.
    1. Rotary
    2. Drifters
    3. Kelly bar
    4. Attachments


(Approximately 8% of the test)

  1. Identify industry specific hand signals.
    1. Boom up
    2. Boom down
    3. Tilt
    4. Rotary head up/down
    5. Forward
    6. Reverse
    7. Extend radius, fluid, or air supply
  2. Interpret signage (pictograms) on equipment
    1. Colors—red, yellow, green
    2. Pinch points
    3. Crush hazards
    4. Electrical hazard
  3. Identify/explain terms, such as:
    1. Kelly bar
    2. Winches
    3. Auxline (Auxiliary line)
    4. Swivel
    5. Mast
    6. Kelly stub
    7. Kelly pin
    8. Crowd
  4. Communicate and coordinate with supervisors, project managers, or representatives regarding the job requirements and schedule.