"I always knew I wasn’t going to a traditional four-year college after high school. I did well in school and enjoyed it, but I didn’t think I’d be able to sit in a classroom for another four years. Also, I wasn’t into the price tag that came along with it.
My career as a lineman didn’t begin immediately after I graduated in 2008 — I served four years in the Marines. As an 11-year-old, I had watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold and realized I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. After speaking with a Marine Reconnaissance recruiter, the rest was history.
After my last deployment to Afghanistan, I knew I wasn’t reenlisting in the Marine Corps. I started to think hard about what I wanted to do when I got out, and my mind would always go back to being a lineman. It made sense for me — my dad worked at a power plant his entire career and introduced me to the lineman trade. Plus, my uncle was a lineman as well.
My discharge came in March 2012 and I started at Manhattan Area Technical College in the electrical power and distribution program in January 2013. The GI bill provided the funds for tuition, books, tools and even a monthly housing allowance.
Today I’m a journeyman lineman for Evergy in Manhattan, Kansas. I work on a three-man crew with another journeyman lineman and a foreman. I operate a bucket truck, my counterpart operates a digger truck and the foreman ensures everything runs smoothly and safely. We construct, maintain and troubleshoot all aspects of overhead and underground electrical equipment, from the power plants to the individual consumer. I like the high-caliber people I get to work with and learn from, along with the challenging elements we work in.
If this interests you and you want to get a head start, I found certain high school classes helped me prepare for the Marines as well as for becoming a lineman. Gym and weights were key. The better shape you’re in, the easier the work is. Wood shop, welding and construction science were all helpful too. The ability to use tools comfortably is a big part of my job today, and it’s easy to tell which kids have never turned a wrench.
Another piece of advice I give to all high schoolers is to get out of the small town you grew up in. Home will always be there to go back to. Whether it’s joining the military or starting off your lineman career as a contractor traveling the country, just be sure to get out and experience all the different cultures! I believe diverse experiences make you a better, well-rounded person."