(HARLINGEN, Texas) – “Safety first” was one of the messages that representatives from utility company American Electric Power had for students in the Electrical Lineworker Technology program at Texas State Technical College during a recent visit to TSTC’s Harlingen campus.
The visitors from AEP stressed that the electric power industry is physically demanding and high-risk, and safety procedures help electrical lineworkers perform their roles successfully. Workers must be able to repair, install and maintain poles, equipment and power lines, as well as install and maintain underground cables, all while working outside in a variety of weather conditions.
Tony Pequeno III, an AEP service crew leader, added that the public’s safety is very important to the company.
“Power lines are everywhere, and all it takes is one time,” he said, indicating that even one slip-up can spell disaster. “The public sees us as the experts. Traffic control plays a role, from the detour signs to the cones we place on the road. It keeps everyone safe.”
Orlando Lugo is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology. He has already benefited from the program since the semester began a few weeks ago.
“What I have enjoyed is taking down the transformers,” he said before the AEP presentation. “As for AEP, I am looking forward to hearing about their company culture.”
Layton Lawson is pursuing an Electrical Lineworker certificate of completion. The program has helped him conquer a fear of heights, and he is learning the fundamentals to perform the job well.
“When I am climbing the pole, I feel alive, and taking down the transformer is a fascinating process,” he said.
Rock Martinez, AEP’s manager of distribution systems, said most applicants hired from outside with no experience typically are not aware of what it takes to be a lineworker.
“The benefit that TSTC students have is they know exactly what our work entails,” he said.
“They understand weather elements, which is the biggest deciding factor for applicants who are unaware of what goes into the job.”
A few TSTC students already have jobs lined up with AEP and have a solid understanding of voltages, pole climbing and safety procedures, thanks to TSTC’s lineworker program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical power line installers and repairers can earn an average annual salary of $55,880 in Texas. Onetonline.org projects that there will be an increase of 16% in the number of such jobs by 2028 in Texas.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology and an Electrical Lineworker certificate of completion. 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.
For more information, go to tstc.edu.