Sims Crane & Equipment has developed a paid apprenticeship program that will prepare graduates for long-term, stable and potentially lucrative careers in the crane industry. With approximately 80 apprentices currently enrolled, Sims Crane, the twelfth largest crane company in the United States, has a robust, four-year statewide program turning out crane operators, rigging professionals and transport truck drivers.

Sims Crane apprentices enjoy full benefits and start at an hourly rate of $15 to $16. Most of the training occurs on the job and focuses on safety, communication between operators and other workers, and equipment operation. After completing the program, certified crane operators can make between $30 and $35 per hour.

“We invest four years of rigorous training to prepare apprentices for rewarding careers in the crane operation, heavy hauling and rigging profession,” said Bob Berry, Sims Crane Safety Director and director of the apprenticeship program. “We are always looking for the right people who are eager to learn and build their skills before jumping into the seat of their own mobile crane.”

The apprentice program is offered at 12 different Sims locations around the state including Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and South Fliroda.

“Our apprentice program is the ideal situation – you earn a paycheck while becoming educated and developing technical skills,” said Berry. “After four years, you will receive a substantial pay increase and have a satisfying long-term career rather than being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, which has become so common and such a burden for many young people.”

Sims apprentice program focuses on specific skill sets each year. The first year emphasizes safety training, including OSHA regulations and general safety on the construction  site. Year two concentrates on rigging and signaling; year three highlights crane setup and types of lifts. During the final year, apprentices apply themselves to developing key mental and judgement skills including safety and load calculations.

“Men and women who want to work in this field need to have physical dexterity and strength and enjoy working outdoors in Florida and on or around machines,” said Berry. “Crane operators also need the ability to make solid snap decisions. Our apprentices are thoroughly tested on their decision-making capabilities.”

Clay Crosby is a recent graduate of Sims’ program at its Mulberry, Fla., location.

“I knew Sims was a great company so I applied, worked hard, practiced the skills and studied,” said Crosby. “I finished the apprentice program ahead of schedule in three-and-a-half years. Right off the bat, I got a raise and Sims assigned me my own crane and ordered my rigging, which is a great feeling.”

After graduation, Sims emphasizes continued employee training on new equipment and knowledge of the ongoing changes to rules and regulations. Berry regularly goes into the field to evaluate the program, conduct safety audits and test operators. Berry emphasizes that the program is not fast-track.

“Sims offers turnkey, comprehensive training with long-term growth and continuing education,” he notes. “We are focused on creating highly qualified crane operators who are an asset to the industry.”

Sims Crane is No. 28 on the new RER 100.