After years of traveling the country as a rigger for an events company, Jacqueline Montero wanted to stay closer to home.
That meant finding a new job. So she looked at career training classes at Fayetteville Technical Community College.
The 38-year-old Fayetteville resident first took a course in fundamentals for forklift drivers to polish a skill she already had.
Then she saw information about FTCC’s basic training course for electric utility line workers.
“I’m good at machines, I’m good at working at heights, I’m good at traveling,” Montero told herself. “I’m gonna go for it.”
She took her first class in the program in January. Several weeks later, she became its first female graduate.
Like all students in the program, Montero had to learn and demonstrate her proficiency in electrical safety, equipment assembly and function, truck operations, and circuit voltages.
She also had to show she could climb a wooden utility pole using only spikes on her feet and a climbing belt, all while carrying a heavy load of tools. Line workers have to be able to do such climbs in case there’s no bucket truck to lift them to the top of a pole.
Some find the climbs too hard – and too scary. Not Montero, who was used to climbing stage rigging to set up heavy draping.
“I was fine,” she said. “I felt comfortable. I felt safe.”
She also made sure she took all the right tools up the pole the first time. Those who don’t have to climb back down to retrieve the missing tool, then climb back up again. Their legs don’t thank them.
Montero knew some questioned whether a woman could do the work. “That motivated me even more,” she said. “I was always in competition with the boys and I beat them most of the time. It was pretty fun.”
“She’s good,” said instructor William “Rhino” Rinehart, himself a retired line worker. “She’s tough.”
“We learned a lot,” Montero said. “We had great teachers.”
She now wants to get a job as a line worker for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission or another electric utility. PWC partners with FTCC on the training course.
“I’m ready to go out in all kinds of weather,” she said.
FTCC’s basic training course for electric utility line workers includes 368 hours of instruction and is offered three to four times each year. For information about this program and others offered by the College’s Corporate & Continuing Education department, please visit the department’s website, call 910-678-8432 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.