LCTC adds lineman training program

Published 11:44 am Thursday, October 27, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

High school seniors have a new career exploration option through the lineman training program at LeCroy Career Technical Center.

Instructor Landon Lowery said the class gives students the opportunity to see if they would enjoy and have what it takes to be a lineman.

“We are only the second or third program in the state that is doing this at the high school level,” Lowery said.

He said the program is designed to help students determine “Is this something I want to do? Can I climb 40-foot up a pole? And can I handle that?”

“That way they don’t get (into a two-year post-secondary program) and spend a bunch of money and find out they can’t climb a pole,” Lowery said.

Even those who do not want to climb power poles will have a good knowledge of other jobs for power companies, such as laying fiber optic cables for Central Access or working in telecommunications for a phone company. Lowery said companies like Petty Line Construction would also be a career opportunity for students straight out of this program.

“In this course, they cover everything from safety, just general safety, tool safety, all the way up to setting, climbing working off of poles, even pole top rescue, basic first aid — anything that a lineman would encounter,” Lowery said.

A “pole top rescue” covers how to climb a pole and get someone down if something happens where they cannot come down themselves.

Lowery said safety is integrated into every aspect of the course, including environmental safety “how what they are doing impacts wildlife, how it impacts waterways, electrical safety,” and avoiding falling or tripping on a job site.

The basics of electricity, reading construction plans, calculating amps and setback distances as well as analyzing soils are also covered during the classroom portion of the program.

“We prefer that students have taken our industrial maintenance electrician class prior to coming into (the lineman class) because they are getting even more of the electrical side prior to coming to us,” Lowery said.

Senior Tyler Payton is a student who did exactly that.

“I started in electrical for electrical foundations to be a lineman because that was the only class we had at the time, then when they opened up lineman, I thought that was an opportunity, so I went straight to that,” Payton said.

The good salary and opportunity to help people drew Payton to the career choice.

“It is always a wonderful thing helping out people in need and going out on storms … it would just be a great job to do,” Payton said.

A practice area for climbing utility poles was constructed on Oct. 26. Central Alabama Electric Cooperative had personnel and equipment onsite for the construction.

“Their guys are coming out once, twice a month, and any time that I need anything, if I need an expert in a certain area they are sending them out,” Lowery said.

Alabama Power has also supported the program through offering consulting and getting students into the certification system.

Payton said seeing the poles going up was “the most fun part” so far in the course, but “the bookwork it helps you and it is introducing you into a lot of safety and protocols that you have to follow.”

As an agriscience educator, Lowery had training in electrical, then he completed rope rescue training at the Alabama Fire College.

This training gave Lowery the knowledge needed to know “all of the ropes and knots and rigging and all of that that would be needed to do pole top rescue.”

Students have the opportunity to complete the Construction and Skilled Trade Exam and National Center for Construction Education & Research core certification requirements during the course.

There are plans to add the NCCER lineman certification requirements next school year.

Lowery said Alabama Power and electric coops, like Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, require completion of a college-level lineman program.

College-level programs are offered at Jefferson State Community College, Trenholm State Community College and some schools in Georgia.