Students in the Welding Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at Spring Woods High School in Spring Branch ISD recently had a chance to hear and see what a career as a lineman with CenterPoint Energy involves.
Representatives from the company that maintains the wires, poles and electric infrastructure serving more than 2.5 million customers in greater Houston, talked to the group about career pathways available, and stressed how the job progression from Helper to Apprentice and to Journeyman is made possible by paid training programs offered there. The students learned the company also reimburses employees for college tuition should they choose to grow in that direction.
Two experienced CenterPoint Energy linemen demonstrated the safety measures and equipment used when working up high in a lift bucket.
Prior to getting into the lift bucket of the CenterPoint Energy truck, lineman instructor Ronnie Abernathy stressed to the welding students and teacher Bill Pearce, that “safety is first, no matter what.”
He also told those in the group who might have reservations about being lifted up 30 or 40 feet in the air that not every lineman job requires working that high, although, he said, “The higher up the better for me!” Some lineman jobs take place in electrical systems built underground.
Tony Kitzmiller, a 1984 graduate from Northbrook High School, has worked at CenterPoint Energy for 37 years, following nine years in the U.S. Marines. He was a head lineman prior to advancement to an instructor position.
“I benefited from the learning provided by the older generation that taught me, and now I want to pass along what I know to a younger generation,” Kitzmiller said. He noted that the utility industry is very reliable and consistent, and caught the students’ attention when he told them he has had a paycheck every two weeks for his whole career.
In an effort to spotlight a variety of career options for students, the district’s CTE department is partnering with CenterPoint Energy to introduce students to job possibilities in the utility industry. Company representatives told the welding program students that there are also jobs at CenterPoint Energy for welders in case that is a career path on which they want to continue.
“The CTE programs of Welding and Construction align well with the ‘pipelines and pathways’ we have at CenterPoint,” Geoff Castro from the company’s Community Relations group said.
Spring Woods High School senior Adrian M. was impressed with the information and demonstration, as well as learning that working in the electricity industry is so reliable. “I was planning on going to a standard college after graduation, but after today, I have my eyes set on working here, going up in the machine,” he said. “I need to deal with my [fear of] heights, but that’s something I want to try.”