(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Texas State Technical College student Angelo Larkins is at home in the air.
On a sunny fall morning in the Electrical Lineworker Technology pole yard on TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus, Larkins was aloft, installing a dead-end/suspension insulator at the top of a pole.
When he graduates at the end of this semester, the Montgomery, Texas, resident will be prepared to enter an industry that runs in his blood: His father and uncle are lineworkers.
“They’re proud,” Larkins said. “They’re ready for me to start working. My dad’s really excited.”
Larkins anticipates taking his Associate of Applied Science degree — TSTC also offers an Electrical Lineworker certificate of completion — and working at Houston-headquartered Mesa Line Services, the same company where his uncle works. His father works in Michigan.
The opportunity to climb the poles first drew Larkins’ interest to lineworking. Through his experience at TSTC, he has grown to appreciate other aspects of the career responsibilities, such as working with transformers.
“It’s been good — I’ve been learning a lot,” Larkins said. “The teachers have been making sure they keep us at least one to two weeks ahead so we learn everything they can possibly teach us — even things that are in the field based on their experiences.”
Students in TSTC’s lineworker program benefit from instructors’ industry insights — and relevant, hands-on training to keep them on the cutting edge of lineworking.
Climbing is a fundamental part of the program, and Larkins is not afraid of heights. But that fairly common fear does not preclude someone from pursuing a career in the industry.
“(Instructors) help people who are afraid of heights,” he said. “I’ve seen guys who were afraid go to the top, and they’re fine. Once you realize that your gear has you on that pole, you feel more relaxed.”
Naturally, one of Larkins’ favorite memories from his training at TSTC was hanging double crossarms.
“Like these,” he said, pointing up at the pole he had descended from, “but at 40 feet.”
Larkins says he would recommend TSTC’s lineworker program to prospective students — particularly in light of the career opportunities in the industry.
In Texas, electrical powerline installers and repairers can earn an average salary of $55,880 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding that Texas employs the largest number of lineworkers in the nation. The metropolitan area of Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land employs the second-highest number of lineworkers in the U.S.
Onetonline.org forecasts that the number of lineworker jobs will grow by 16% in the state through 2028.
“It’s definitely a good trade to get into,” Larkins said. “They need a lot of them, especially down here.”
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.