(MARSHALL, Texas) – Students enrolling this fall in the Electrical Lineworker Technology program at Texas State Technical College will have the opportunity to take commercial driver’s license lessons.

Students will first need to get a commercial learner’s permit before the end of their second semester, said Eric Carithers, TSTC’s statewide chair for the Electrical Lineworker Technology program.

“The students are required to have their permit and also a copy of their driving record,” he said. “They need a driving record for every state they have lived in the last seven years. They also need to undergo a drug screening.”

Students will take a new commercial driving course through the Texas Workforce Commission in the third semester of the associate degree program. The first group of students will start learning how to drive in summer 2020, Carithers said. The class is backed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates all registered commercial motor vehicles for interstate freight, passenger and hazardous materials transportation. .

“It cuts down on the costs for the employer and makes the student more sellable,” Carithers said.

Representatives of area electric providers said the new course is vital for job candidates.

“As an electric utility, it’s imperative for us to have employees with a CDL,” said Bryan Blanton, a distribution system manager at Southwestern Electric Power Co. in Longview and chair of TSTC’s Electrical Lineworker Technology advisory board. “It will be a huge success when graduates come out of TSTC’s linemen program already having their CDL.”

Kathy Wood, general manager of the Panola-Harrison Electric Cooperative (PHEC) in Marshall, said it is a challenge to finding job candidates who already have commercial driver’s licenses.

“TSTC including the CDL with its Electrical Lineworker program is very beneficial,” Wood said. “It will save PHEC the cost of driving the employee to the testing site for testing. It will also benefit the applicant because the CDL makes the applicant more valuable to the cooperative.”

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