Northwest Lineman College trains the next generation of utility workers

Credit: Eric Turner / KTVB

Students at Northwest Lineman college practice techniques to repair power poles.

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by Bonnie Shelton

Bio | Email | Follow: @BonnieKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 7:24 AM

MERIDIAN -- It's a dangerous job that's getting a lot of attention. Instructors at Northwest Lineman College in Meridian told us each term the program is full and interest in electrical line work continues to grow.

The school is the only one of it's kind in Idaho. On Friday, 120 people will graduate from the school, but one student stands out from all the rest.

"I think I was more intimidated being around 130 men and being the only woman," said student Cassandra Minton.

While some parts of the college's environment may have intimidated her at first, the heights sure didn't.

"They're doing a single cross arm change out," said Minton of her classmates' work at the school's outdoor training field.

Now that she's reached the end of her training, she can quickly climb up and down a power pole to complete repair work.

It's a good workout, too. Teachers at Northwest Lineman College said most students lose about 15 pounds because of the physical nature of the job.

"Being a lineman is a special breed," said Training Specialist Robert Seekell.

24-year-old Minton may not fit the usual profile, but teachers at the school told us she's often ahead of the pack.

"When they're out in the field they're learning distribution, transmission," said Seekell.

There are a few perks to the job.

"The excitement. The money," said Seekell.

Along with outdoor climbing and conditioning, students learn techniques inside a state-of-the art training lab using live wires.

"You have to really pay attention, watch your buddy's back," said Seekell of the work.

If they succeed, students can get a job as soon as they graduate making between $18 and $23 dollars an hour.

But Minton says it isn't just about the pay.

"It's very fascinating to me and it's a challenging and rewarding career field that I knew I could do well in," she said.

After months of training and climbing, this latest group of lineman is ready to help build and maintain America's power grid.

"They really want it and they push really hard to get through the program," said Seekell of his students.

To learn more about Northwest Lineman College, click here.

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