Not the Office Type: Burns finds a career in the electrical line worker field
Trinity Valley Community College student Kyle Burns always had a want for a career outside of the office and found a career as an electrical line worker was the perfect option for him.
“I have never envisioned myself sitting behind a desk,” Burns shared. “This field of work is right up my alley.”
Burns graduated from Huntsville High School in 2008 and decided to get his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and start a job in truck driving. After being a commercial truck driver for 14 years, he felt it was time to start a successful career path.
“When I graduated high school [becoming an electrical line worker] was something that I wanted to do but I never followed through with it,” Burns shared. “I wanted a career that is more than just driving a truck. But I also knew after working 14 years in the workforce that I had always been at a disadvantage, because I didn’t have any technical training or college. When I first started looking at programs, I realized I needed some type of college to further my education and this [program at TVCC] fit the bill for me.”
When looking for a program, Burns had to find the best place to balance his home life, job, and education. Burns looked at other colleges, before deciding upon TVCC, and noticed most programs were a 10-week program that consisted of eight hours a day. With a family, Burns knew he couldn’t quit his job for an education.
“I have a family of a wife and kids,” Burn said. “I couldn’t just take off 10 weeks for a program and not work. That wasn’t an option for me.”
Burns explained that the electrical line worker program at TVCC offered him the opportunity to work during the day and go to school in the evenings.
“It was a blessing for me,” Burns expressed. “The reason why I chose TVCC is because of the flexibility with the program versus other schools. This program is more accessible for me to be here in the evenings, and it really worked out for me. Plus, the cost was a lot less than other programs I looked at.”
Burns shared that he enjoys the hands-on approach TVCC instructor Randy Lively offers.
“I thoroughly enjoy the program,” he expressed. “I like climbing and I like being outdoors. You know, that’s my cup of tea. Unlike other curriculums that people may pursue there’s not a lot of academics in this. There’s some book work, but most of the program consists of hands-on work.”
He also shared his instructor Lively offers a wealth of knowledge for students.
“He’s been at the [Houston County Electric] co-op for over 30 years, so there’s a lot to learn from him and his years of experience,” he said. “If you are willing to put the work in, he’s willing to teach you. No matter how long it takes.”
Burns explained the career for electrical line worker isn’t a choice for everyone but works best for him.
“It is a demanding career path,” said Burns. “It’s not for everyone, but it is a very rewarding career path.”
He also expressed some of the best advice he can offer an interested student is to get their CDL in advance. In electrical line work, commercial vehicles are necessary for transporting poles, digging holes, stretching lines, setting the poles and more, he explained.
“For any newcomers that want to do this type of work, I would suggest they get their CDL,” said Burns. “I think that if anybody wants to join in this line of work a CDL is necessary. I think it’s beneficial for anyone that is interested in this career field to get the CDL beforehand.”
Burns suggested that another career field for students to consider, if they aren’t interested in electrical line work, is truck driving. With the need for truck drivers, he suggested that students consider classes at TVCC.
“Whether you use it in the linemen field or not, it’s good for you to have that CDL license,” he said. “A CDL is an essential tool for you to have because there will always be a need for truck drivers. You can always find a job driving a truck.”
Though he is set to graduate from the program in May 2024, Burns has already started his career in the field as part of the right-of-way crew for the Houston County Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Crockett. Burns shared that over TVCC’s Winter Break, the co-op posted an opening, he decided to apply for it and was offered an opportunity.
“I wanted to work at the co-op in Crocket,” Burns said. “That’s where I wanted to be. I have full intentions to be there until I retire, or they run me off.”
TVCC currently offers the electrical line worker program on the Palestine and Terrell Campuses that includes classroom, indoor and outdoor lab facilities, and field training. Students attending the program will graduate with a 22-week certificate in electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. For more information on the program, students can go to www.tvcc.edu/workforce.