NMU Partner in Line Technician Program


Northern Michigan University will provide certification for the electrical line technician program offered by the Lake Superior Community Partnership Foundation. The two-semester program prepares students to install and maintain above-ground and underground electrical systems that supply energy to residential and commercial customers. Graduates are certified for employment with public utilities, electrical transmission contractors and related companies.


“There is a nationwide shortage of qualified workers in this field, which is creating a high demand for certified line technicians,” said Bill Rigby (TAS, pictured). “Beginning this fall, Northern will supervise the program and manage the curriculum. Participating power companies will provide specialized instructional services.”


All courses are offered at the Midwest Skills Development Center (MSDC) at Sawyer. Students are trained to construct electric transmission systems; construct and operate electrical power distribution systems; identify substation components; climb towers and poles; identify methods of electrical generation; communicate technical information; and relate electrical theory to electric power systems. They are also Red Cross certified and receive a commercial driver’s license prior to graduation, making them immediately eligible for employment.


Because students in the program are admitted to NMU, they will have access to services, housing and financial aid. They will also be issued laptop computers as part of tuition and fees. Students are guaranteed interviews prior to completing the program. The starting salary for electrical line technicians is $30,000-$35,000 with full benefits. They are hired as apprentices, but will earn a higher salary as they accumulate the hours required for journeyman status.


The closest institutions offering a similar program are Alpena Community College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.


"We are extremely excited to enter into a partnership with Northern Michigan University for our electrical line technician program,” said Gary Erickson, president of the LSCP Foundation and president of UPPCO. “The mission of the foundation has always been to promote and advance efforts in workforce and economic development in the Upper Peninsula . This program is a proven model that can be replicated as other employer training needs become known.


“Our country experienced its largest electrical blackout last August. That was a wake-up call in terms of the need to update our infrastructure. It became very obvious that if you’re going to have a high-tech society, the infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. It takes a trained, available workforce to accomplish that.”

The line technician program is in its second year. Bay de Noc Community College was the educational partner the first year, which ended in April with 28 graduates. Enrollment this fall is expected to be 32-36 with a waiting list.



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Updated: June 14, 2004