(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Whether being hoisted high above the ground in a cherry picker to clear tree limbs from power lines, or climbing an electrical pole to help restore power, heights are no problem for Texas State Technical College student Joe Rodriguez.
Now close to finishing his certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology, the Mission resident cites former work for a tree service — and the pandemic — for helping him to decide on a career path.
“I removed debris from power lines because of a bad winter storm that affected the New Jersey area a few years ago,” Rodriguez said. “Then the pandemic changed everything. I moved back to the Rio Grande Valley because I needed a job. One day I had to use the internet to perform job searches. An advertisement appeared for the Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology program at TSTC. I used to be enrolled in the program, but I left for personal reasons. That advertisement was a sign to return.”
Rodriguez is gratified to share an educational experience with his two brothers, who are also in the same program. In addition to their studies at TSTC, the brothers are gaining field experience working together at Spartan Utility Services.
“My job is to remove old AT&T communication wires from poles,” he said.
Rodriguez is proud of his progress at TSTC.
“I accomplished many things that I didn’t think I would be able to,” he said. “I enjoyed learning how to connect many parts and materials to a transformer. The camaraderie that was formed made a difference.”
Rodriguez said his favorite aspect of the program was learning how to provide electrical power to a consumer.
“I feel that’s the most gratifying part about this job,” he said. “Everyone needs electricity to survive. When Mother Nature comes with various weather conditions, lineworkers are ready to restore (power) back to full capacity.”
Rodriguez appreciates the expertise of his instructors.
“They definitely improved my knowledge in areas such as knots, rigging, and my communication skills,” he said. “As for new knowledge, their education about wire measurements and how to set up a pole using a bucket truck was very important.”
After graduation, Rodriguez’s goal is to begin a career with an area utility company.
“I’m proud of what I learned because I feel this career is my calling,” he said. “There are not many people that can do this job. I am committed to helping restore power to a community.”
Rodriguez is a candidate for graduation at the upcoming Summer 2022 Commencement Ceremony.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical power-line installers and repairers can earn an average annual salary of $63,770 in Texas. Onetonline.org projects that there will be an increase of 16% in the number of such jobs in the state by 2028.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a certificate of completion in Electrical Lineworker and Management Technology at its Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses.
The program is part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee, which refunds a graduate’s tuition if he or she has not found a job in their field within six months of graduation.