Melissa Sworn

Life never stands still, not for a moment. Being in one trade for nearly a decade doesn’t mean you can’t try something new.

At 26 years old, Melissa Sworn knew she wanted a new challenge.

“I wanted something hard, but interesting.

“I’m a fully qualified heavy road transport diesel mechanic, so heavy machinery is nothing new to me. I had no prior experience as a crane operator but I still applied for a job anyway.

“I’m fortunate I got the job with Atlas Cranes. I’ve been at Atlas full time for more than a year and during this time I’ve become fully qualified crane operator.

Atlas Cranes Operations Manager Jimmy Lowther says as the first female crane operator on their books Melissa will go a long way in the industry.

“Part of being a crane operator is the ability to take direction, and work well with your team. Mel is able to do this and she also uses her previous trade industry to maintain the machinery, it’s awesome.”

Melissa acknowledges changing industry has been a little overwhelming at times.

“While I’ve been able to use my mechanic skills as a crane operator, changing careers can be a staggering thing to do.

“Every day there is something new to learn and just when I think I have something figured out – along comes something new I need to get across. In saying that, it’s the challenge I love. No two work sites are the same and it means everyday I’m coming up against something new – it definitely keeps me on my toes,” says Melissa.

So what makes someone a good crane operator?

Melissa says being a crane operator is not for those who cannot multi-task or for those who prefer to work alone.

“It’s a serious business – a mistake can be not only financially costly but can be dangerous if people’s lives are put at risk.

“You’re definitely part of a team. When you operate a crane it needs to be in smooth fluid motions, your team helps you with these. You need to be able to watch and listen – especially to the experienced people on site. At the end of the day, they really just want you and your work mates to be safe.

But hey – when you’ve got a changing work place from beaches to forests, from heavy vehicle recovery work to buildings – it’s not all bad.

“Although I am part of a team in a small company, because of the diverse range of jobs we do I get to meet a wide variety of people working across range of industries. We all have a chat and a good laugh but at the end of the day still get our jobs done,” says Melissa.

In her future Melissa sees bigger cranes, continued learning opportunities and greater heights.

For all hopeful crane operators out there Melissa says to have a go, but to make sure it’s what you really want to do.


“It takes focus and commitment. If you really want to get into cranes then its one awesome industry to be in – but you need to really want to do it – otherwise it will be much easier to just give up than to keep going like I did.”