Kalamazoo Valley Community College

KVCC to Launch Utility Line Worker Academy in May

02/01/2012

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A Utility Line Worker Academy is being offered at Kalamazoo Valley Community College beginning on May 7, 2012. The 26-week-long training program provides training and certification to prepare students for high demand, high paying career opportunities as line workers. “Line work is extremely challenging and interesting as the type of projects, conditions, and work locations change frequently,” said Lesa Strausbaugh, Director of Career Academies at KVCC.

She explained that line workers install and service power lines and power line connections between electrical power plants and the customers using the electricity. These lines may be above ground on utility poles or underground. Line work is performed in an outdoor environment subjected to all types of weather and the work can by very physical at times. The work requires technicians to be willing and able to work long hours and to travel at the direction of their company.

Line workers are employed by utility companies, local municipalities and firms who sub-contract with transmission line owners. They perform critical operational and maintenance services and also participate in the construction and installation of transmission lines.

“The demand for highly trained line workers is expected to increase,” Strausbaugh said. “Line workers generally begin their career as an apprentice with a starting salary range from $45,000 to $55,000 annually before overtime and benefits. While on the job, they participate in a structured apprenticeship which over the course of four years leads to the opportunity to gain journeyman status.”

KVCC and Consumers Energy Services will collaborate in the delivery of the training. The Utility Line Worker Academy will take place at the Groves Campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College and at the Consumer Energy Marshall Training Center in Marshall, Michigan. The Academy will include classroom instruction, physical fitness programming, and hands-on work in the lab and on poles. Completion of the Academy does not guarantee employment with Consumers Energy. Graduates will have the opportunity to become employed by companies across the nation.

The program is divided into two segments. During the first 16 weeks, trainees will meet at KVCC and master the foundational skills needed for this field of work and prepare physically for a career as a Utility Line Worker. Week 17 is an intense line worker orientation at the Consumer Energy Training Center in Marshall. Trainees will be required to exert extreme physical and mental strength in order to successfully complete the orientation. The final nine weeks of the training is completed at the Consumers Energy Marshall Training Center where knowledge and skills acquired are applied to work which is actually performed on the job.

Skills and abilities are measured through practical competency demonstrations and written knowledge assessments. Graduates earn a certificate of completion from Kalamazoo Valley Community College along with safety certification cards, a transcript describing specific competencies demonstrated and passport describing the full credential.

The Utility Line Worker Academy is designed to prepare trainees for a specific occupation. It is critical that candidates have an opportunity to compare their background and aptitude for the physical nature of line work to employers’ expectations for employment before committing to the Academy. The candidate selection process includes an application, math testing, fitness testing, pole climbing, and a physical exam. “Climbing a pole is said to be one of the most demanding skills in line work. Any lineman will tell you, climbing a pole is a unique experience,” Strausbaugh said.

Through the candidate selection process applicants have an opportunity to make an informed decision about this field of work, while the instructional team evaluates the candidate’s readiness to be successful in the Utility Line Worker Academy.

The Utility Line Worker Academy is a full-time competency based training program. Topics of instruction include Fitness for Line Work, Workplace Safety, Pole Climbing, Electrical Fundamentals, Electrical Transformers, Rigging, Mechanical Concepts, Career Planning, Computer Skills, Line Worker Orientation, Equipment Inspection, Maintenance and Operation, Applied Electrical, PPE, Overhead and Underground Distribution, Pole Climbing and Rescue, Electric Line Construction, Work on 120/240v Secondary Lines, Meter Reading, and Safe Work Procedures.

For more information about the Academy or to apply, contact Lesa Strausbaugh at 269-353-1286 or visit our website at www.kvcc.edu/training.