CATA holds information session about new Power Lineman/ Fiber Optic Technician Training Program

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Principal Billy Troutman, Assistant Principal Haynes Riddle and Cullman Electric Superintendent of Operations Brandon Miner (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Area Technology Academy held an informational session on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss their upcoming Lineman Program in fall 2022 just for High School seniors. The program is the first high school program of its kind in Alabama. CATA has had an electricity program for years, but last year, the faculty decided to revamp the program. About two months into their process, Principal Billy Troutman said he got a call from Cullman Electric Co-op in which they offered to partner with CATA.

Troutman, Assistant Director Haynes Riddle and the team at Cullman Electric revised a new program with the idea that internet is now an essential need for most people and fiber optic technology is a new component to linemen jobs. This collaboration led to a Power Lineman/ Fiber Tech program idea. Electricity principles like basic wiring will still be a part of the program. Riddle said, “If you’re wanting to be an electrician, this program is for you too.” According to Troutman, it will be “the new and improved electricity program.”

“What we’re looking to build in a tech program that is going to be 100% transferable. The skills you learn are transferable into the real world. When students graduate, there will be multiple career paths available to them,” Riddle explained.

The Fiber Optic Certification is going to be a three-day training where students can learn to splice fiber optic wire. Other credentials earned will be NCCER, OSHA 10, CPR, CFOT, along with many safety classes. Riddle said that CATA will even set up a pole yard where students can practice climbing power poles. At the end of the year, instructors will go over interviewing and communication skills to prepare students for getting jobs.

The standards in the program will be high. Scoring below a 70 on a test will mean having to retake it. Troutman said, “We want to make sure you’re held to the same standard you will be held to in the industry.”

Superintendent of Operations at Cullman Electric Cooperative Brandon Miner attended the session and shared that the Co-op wants to be a part of the program and will have linemen attend the classes and discuss their careers with the students. He said that lineman and fiber optic technician jobs are in high demand. They are also in the Top 40 highest paying jobs in Alabama. He said the reason for requiring high test scores is, “…a dangerous job. It’s not a job for mistakes.”

Interested students are encouraged to apply quickly as there is limited availability. Apply at https://cata.ccboe.org/o/cata/article/665839.

CATA is hosting a Signing Day for seniors on May 13 for those who have not yet found employment, to meet with employers in every industry program offered at CATA. Riddle said that at the end of next year, he plans to have a similar event for students in the Lineman Program to help them become employed as quickly as possible.

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