boom lift vs scissor lift guide

Picking the right equipment between a boom lift and scissor lift is a choice. But when it comes to boom and scissor lift certification, employers don’t have a choice…they’re required to provide training and OSHA certification for all drivers. (ALC) offers OSHA-compliant training for each type of equipment, and we’ll ensure all your operators are fully certified.

At, we offer a training kit course for only $299. This kit can help you certify as many employees as you need to. If you want all your certifications completed onsite, buy our train-the-trainer course for $149. Our best deal, our bundle and save option, gives you both courses for $399.


aerial lift certification

Why Should You Enroll Your Workers with

Boom lift and scissor lift operators need to know how to safely operate aerial lifts safely. If you’re an employer whose workers operate aerial lifts or you’re interested in becoming an boom liftl or scissor lift operator to expand your career opportunities, look into’s aerial lift training programs, here are some of the many benefits you’ll enjoy when you choose ALC for your training:

1. Fast Certification

ALC’s online certification program can be completed in as little as an hour using a smartphone or other digital device at any time and from anywhere there’s an internet connection.

2. Hassle-Free Certification

There’s no need to waste time traveling to and from an offsite facility to complete classroom training.

3. Time and Cost Savings

Our online training programs are both convenient and affordable.

4. Ability to Live and Work Anywhere in the United States

Aerial lift and scissor lift certification from ALC is recognized anywhere throughout the United States.

5. OSHA-Approved

Learn how to operate Boom Lift and Scissor lifts and other types of aerial lifts, as well as how to inspect the equipment and how to avoid hazards that can have costly and even fatal consequences. You’ll also be up to date on all the latest OSHA regulations.

6. Instant Proof of Certification

Download and print your aerial lift operator certificate immediately upon completing the online coursework. There’s no need to wait for official documentation to arrive in the mail – just print the certificates and you or your workers are good to go!

Boom Lift VS Scissor Lift – Key Differences

Both boom and scissor lifts can be elevated with workers on top of them. As the platforms get raised, workers can safely perform jobs at heights. While both types of machines are used for the same purpose, they are very different.

So, what is a boom lift? A boom lift is a smaller type of aerial platform that is more flexible in the direction it goes. These machines can go horizontally and vertically and reach about 210 feet.

So, what is a scissor lift? Scissor lifts are much broader, meaning they can carry more people or heavier loads than a boom lift. These aerial lifts only move vertically, so remember when placing the scissor lift under the potential worksite. In most cases, you’ll only be able to navigate your scissor lift directly up. Scissor lifts usually only reach up to about 60 ft. When workers undergo boom lift training, they learn how to navigate much higher fall hazards than scissor lift training, but ultimately, both training modules aim to empower workers to use both machines safely. Below, we’ll go over the distinctions between these machines and the different types of training for both.

How to Operate a Boom Lift

There are three key safety concepts to remember when operating a boom lift. These important safety measures include:

  • Always know the machine’s max load capacity, and never exceed this number.
  • Make sure the aerial lift or boom lift is on stable ground.
  • Account for power lines, structures, trees and other overhead hazards.

That’s just one of the many key differences between scissor lift and boom lift training. For a more detailed look at safety tips and training requirements related to boom lift certification, check out our article on this subject. Regardless of whether you operate a scissor lift or boom lift, stability is one of the most underrated safety requirements.

How to Operate a Scissor Lift

Here is a picture of a scissor lift. It is only able to move in the vertical plane, unlike a boom lift, which also can move sideways. A scissor lift uses folded, linked supports in a criss-cross “X” pattern, called a panto-graph or scissor mechanism. Sometimes, a scissor lift will have a “bridge” that extends the platform closer to the position where the work needs to be carried out. This is because of the rig’s limitation to vertical movement.

Working a scissor lift also has its share of unique challenges. Depending on how high your scissor lift goes, there are fall protection requirements, overhead hazards, and other concerns. Working on a scissor lift vs a boom lift is different, but they’re alike in this regard – if you’re going to operate both types of industrial equipment, you need a scissor lift certificate and boom lift certificate.

Boom Lift & Scissor Lift Operator Certification FAQs

What is the difference between a scissor lift and a boom lift?

An aerial lift goes much higher than a scissor lift. Plus, a scissor lift extends only straight up from the base, while an aerial lift extends across and over the wheel base.

Which type of lift is better for both indoors and outdoors?

Scissor lifts are ideal for indoor projects, while aerial lifts excel in outdoor environments. The main factor with this boom lift vs scissor lift question has to do with lift heights. Some aerial lifts can extend vertically beyond 100 feet, while most scissor lifts are in the 10 to 20-feet range.

Is a boom lift an aerial lift?

Yes, a boom lift is a type of aerial lift. They’re also referred to as cherry pickers or man lifts. In a boom lift, workers are elevated in a small bucket. Aerial lifts are also referred to as aerial work platforms (AWPs) or mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). These terms are captured by recent updates to American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and all of ALC’s training and certification capture both ANSI and OSHA safety guidance.

For the boom lift vs scissor lift debate, which is safer?

While aerial lifts and boom lifts are subject to more hazards, thanks to their height and outdoor use, they’re not necessarily more dangerous than scissor lifts. With boom and scissor lift certification, your operators are able to safely operate boom lifts and scissor lifts with equal confidence and success!

What are some important scissor & boom lift considerations?

This a great question, and one we receive quite often here at ALC! Every job is different, as is every company’s equipment needs. It all depends on your particular requirements, which are determined by these factors:

  • Lifting capacity. If you need a worker with minimal tools at height, aerial lifts usually fit the bill. However, if you need extra capacity for additional workers, and the project is indoors, a scissor lift is probably your best bet. Always consider lifting capacity when choosing between a boom lift vs scissor lift.
  • Expense account. What can your budget handle? Scissor lifts are usually cheaper to rent & own, while aerial lifts are more expensive. While budgetary considerations are important, don’t let this factor override your safety requirements. Even if you have to spend a little more for the “right” equipment – and the safer equipment – consider your employees’ safety first and foremost!
  • Direction. Remember, scissor lifts operate on a straight vertical axis. If your job requires straight above access indoors, scissor lifts should do the job. But if you need a more versatile & flexible extension and you’re outdoors, boom lifts are the better fit.
  • Work environment. For indoor jobs, scissor lifts are the better option. For outdoor construction, maintenance and even landscaping, cherry pickers and other AWPs are better suited to get the job done. Regardless of your work surroundings, remember that your operators need boom lift and scissor lift certification in order to meet OSHA compliance and safety standards!
  • Height considerations. Scissor lifts have a reach capacity of around 50 feet. Boom lifts can easily go at least twice as high, with some articulating boom lifts able to reach up to 150 feet and higher!

Do aerial lifts and scissor lifts require OSHA certification?

100% yes! That’s why boom and scissor lift certification is so important – and ALC can get your entire workforce trained!

Do I Need to Inspect the Boom and Scissor Lifts Before Every Job?

Yes. Employers have a legal duty to ensure that the machines they provide on their worksites are in safe operating condition. To fulfill this legal requirement, employers should get in the habit of regularly inspecting machines before each job. Employers can create safety procedures or use preexisting aerial lift safety checklists to ensure the machines are up to par for employees.

Meet Your Boom and Scissor Lift Certification Needs Now with ALC’s Training Kit

The differences between a scissor lift and a boom lift are significant. Doing your due diligence and research before you utilize one of these machines on your job site would be best. Consider the needs and circumstances of the job. You’ll need to determine what type of lift best suits your needs.

Once you have that information, it’s time to check your team’s certification and training levels. Any employees you want to operate or ride on the lifts must be trained and certified before stepping onto the job site.

At ALC, we offer all the training materials, on-site evaluation tools, and printable proof to ensure your team is OSHA-compliant and safe. Get started by checking out the courses we offer now. If you have more questions, contact our team at 888-278-8896 for more information.