GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Demand for lineworkers is projected to grow, but there is no shortage of people interested in training programs like the one at Grand Rapids Community College.
Instructor Steven Ray says the students who are able to get in are very excited to work in the field.
“They have to pass our courses before they are allowed to go into the climbing school. And once they’re done with the climbing school, they’ll get an apprenticeship,” Ray said. “They have to really show us that they’re motivated. And I’ll tell you what, in the 22 years that I’ve worked at this school, these are the most motivated students I’ve ever had.”
Lineworkers can make more than $40 per hour, but not just anyone can make the cut to keep the power on.
West Michigan is forecast to have 1,500 energy positions open over the next five years, according to John VanElst, GRCC associate dean of workforce training.
“It’s a pretty challenging program for the pre-lineworker, so there’s a lot of interest and their classes are set up for them to be able to pass the fitness class but also to be able to learn the basic energy,” VanElst said.
The physical training can be challenging, program manager and fitness instructor Lannie Collard said.
“There’s a class that’s based off of 14 weeks that was developed by someone from Consumers Energy that has just studied the trade,” Collard said. “It’s a focus of HIIT, high-intensity interval training, and strength training, but the object at every class is to get to your max heart rate, hold it there and then build strength on top of that also.”
The training prepares students to be able to climb power polls up to 80 feet.
“They say at the orientation for Consumers Energy for the lineworkers that on average, they’re doing 1,500 to 2,000 single-leg squats just in that day period, so it’s very taxing,” Collard said.
GRCC will be holding an informational meeting on its one-year energy technician certificate program on Nov. 6 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the GRCC Tassell M-TEC building on Godfrey Ave SW in Grand Rapids.