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Spotlight on Ozark Technical Community College Linemen

Updated: May 8, 2021

We recently sat down with Keith Dinwiddie, Technical Programs Director, at Ozarks Technical Community College. We estimate there are over two thousand lineman in the state of Missouri. Common employers of lineman include ADB Companies and Evergy. Ozarks Community College is of the top training programs in the region and we dug in further to learn more.

Preparing lineman for jobs in Missouri

What makes you especially enthusiastic about working in the trades and lineman industry?

Electrical lineworkers serve a vital role in the modern world. Without them, the electricity we depend on for almost everything in our world wouldn’t flow. These men and women work in all kinds of weather building, maintaining and repairing America’s electrical grid. The electrical distribution field is also full of unique challenges that are their own reward. Every job location has its own unique set of weather, soil, terrain, and other factors that make even routine tasks different. The electrical distribution field allows our graduates to travel to other states and even other countries to use their skills to repair massive storm damage or build new lines to bring electricity to an area for the first time.

On top of the highly satisfying work, lineworkers earn excellent wages. For many of our students this is a life-changing field, which allows them to leave a life of poverty and build more prosperous lives for their families. OTC’s program has grown through word-of-mouth advertising. Many of our applicants either know someone or are related to someone who is a current student or has graduated from the program. The applicants’ excitement grows when they learn more about the engaging, hands-on classwork, and hear about the career opportunities available to our students.

How does the program curriculum and training give strong preparation to the trainees?

We use a scaffold approach to our classes where each class builds on the previous one, which gives our students plenty of time to master all the key skills needed to excel in the electrical distribution field. Commercial driving is a part of the college’s curriculum; therefore all our students graduate with a Class A CDL -- a prerequisite for almost all jobs in the field.

Ozark Technical Community College
Ozark Technical Community College

Of course, we can teach all sorts of skills, but if they aren’t job applicable then they’re useless to our students and their potential employers. We have an exceptionally strong advisory committee, which helps keep our curriculum aligned with the needs of employers in the industry. As students progress in the training, we organize them into crews with specific tasks to complete, which prepares them for their employer’s needs when they graduate.

Since our program is a two-year degree, students have time to hone the base skills and we can expose them to many of the situations and weather issues they will face out in the field. Between the first and second year, our students intern with electrical providers to get a taste of the real world, discover how to use their knowledge on the job, and figure out what skills they need to master in the coming year to be job ready. Not only is this an invaluable learning experience, the internship gives our students a chance to show what they can do and, possibly, opens the door to a job when they graduate. Due to the fact students are on campus two days a week, many have been able to continue working as interns during their second year of school on their non-class days. Not only are they getting paid this whole time, but they are also adding hours of experience to their resumes and accelerating their learning.

Strong apprenticeship opportunities for lineman in Missouri

What do employers especially appreciate about your program?