(ROSENBERG, Texas) – The Electrical Lineworker Technology pole yard and surrounding area at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Fort Bend County was abuzz with activity Thursday morning.
It was equipment day: the first opportunity for first-semester students to get their hands on their gear — and try it out.
Dozens of TSTC students waited in the shade to select what they would need to get their training off to a good start.
Retired lineman Ronnie Culbertson partnered with equipment company TMD to create a complete lineworker kit tailored to schools’ and students’ needs. Kits can include a climbing belt, hand tools and bags, hooks, bolt bags and more.
“I like to do this because it keeps me involved,” Culbertson said as students got measured and placed their orders. “I have 37 years of knowledge that I need to pass on to someone else.”
Multiple conversations mingled across the pole yard as third-semester students helped first-semester students put on their climbing equipment for the first time, offering tips, advice and demonstrations along the way.
“It feels good, man — it’s an adrenaline rush.”
“Raise that right leg. It takes some time. Now to come back down. Lock one leg and then just bend the knee you’re standing on. There you go.”
“Watch your feet.”
TSTC lineworker instructors offered the more experienced students extra credit to serve as mentors for the morning as new students tried on and adjusted their gear — and gained a little altitude in the pole yard.
“They got their tools today, the new guys,” TSTC lead instructor Troy Eads said. “It’s the first time they’ve ever been on a pole, most of them.”
Eads was on hand too, calling out advice from pole to pole.
“As you go higher, the pole gets thinner,” he warned a first-semester student. “You have to keep adjusting yourself. As you go up, the pole gets farther away.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology and an Electrical Lineworker certificate of completion. The hybrid courses include online instruction and in-person, hands-on training.
The program is also part of TSTC’s Money-Back Guarantee initiative. If students do not find a job in their field within six months of graduation, TSTC will refund their tuition.
In Texas, electrical powerline installers and repairers can make an average salary of $55,880 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Onetonline.org projects that such positions will increase by 16% in the state over the next seven years.
Thursday’s session represented the initial milestone that TSTC students mark on their way to a high-paying career.
As more students obtained their gear and carried it over to join the others in the pole yard, the conversations continued under the hot sun.
“Before you’re going to go up, get comfortable. Do you feel good?”
“You have to earn respect.”
“All right. Go ahead and take your first step.”
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.