Alan Blackmon is pursuing a career that will likely require him to climb 60-foot-high wooden poles to work on power lines in all sorts of weather.
It beats his current job as a mortician any day, he says.
“The money’s good and you get to help people when they need it,” he said. “You get to feel like a hero.”
Wallace Community College can now provide more realistic training to Blackmon and other students in its line worker program, thanks to the purchase of a new bucket truck.
A grant from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development funded the $100,000 purchase. Wiregrass Electric Cooperative donated a trailer for the truck to use to haul power poles.
Vincent Vincent, non-credit training coordinator at Wallace Community College, said the addition of the bucket truck will allow the line worker program to provide more complete training for students. Vincent said the truck will also allow students to gain a Class A CDL license, a credential many employers want their employees to have.
The line worker program is a seven-week course. Students learn how to properly climb power poles, OSHA safety requirements, CPR skills, electrical safety and more. Vincent said the course, which costs $3,500 to take, prepares students for an entry level position in electrical line work.
Vincent said the program has an 84 percent graduation rate, a 67 percent employment rate and a 56 percent employment in field rate.
Brad Kimbro, director of member services for Wiregrass Electric Cooperative, said the program allows his company to hire qualified candidates who already have the training and desire to become line workers. Kimbro said it spares his company the expense of training new hires who may later decide that line work isn’t for them.
“They’re not right off the street not knowing anything,” he said.
Blake Kelly, a student, said he looks forward to the opportunities the class will open for him.
“It’s fun, you just go up there,” he said. “There’s a lot of money in it too and you get to be outside all day.”
Tony Rankin, another student, was attracted by the pay and benefits.
“I have a family to think about,” he said.