When lightning strikes the transformer on your street, who you gonna call? That's right, the power line worker who rides up in one of those buckets and restores power--and your Facebook page. Now THAT's an important job. Jersey Central Power & Light, for example, provides electric service to 1.1 million customers in northern and central New Jersey.
Through a JCP&L initiative, high school graduates interested in becoming power line workers or substation electricians can be accepted at Raritan Valley Community College or Brookdale Community College and into the Power Systems Institute.
Participants go to school two-and-a-half days a week--taking courses from English Composition and Interpersonal Communications to Electrical Circuits for Power Distribution--and the other two-and-a-half days a week are spent getting hands-on experience at JCP&L's training facility in either Phillipsburg or Farmingdale. Upon completion of that two-year course, you come out with an Associate of Applied Science degree with a focus on Electric Utility Technology and are typically hired by JCP&L. Right now, starting salaries range from $22 to $23 per hour, as well as paid overtime.
Adam Wires graduated from Phillipsburg High School in 1996 with not much notion of what he wanted to do with his life. He went to Raritan Valley Community College, then transferred to Towson University in Maryland and majored in psychology and political science. He grew restless and wondered, where are my studies taking me?
When Adam heard about Jersey Central Power & Light's Power Systems Institute back home, he felt it was an opportunity worth exploring where he could learn useful, hands-on skills. He started with an orientation program in July 2003 and began attending Power Institute courses at Raritan Valley Community College at the end of August. Two years later, he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree with a focus on Electric Utility Technology and went to work for JCP&L, where he worked as a substation technician before recently being promoted to junior relay technician, a highly technical profession that requires him to make more of his own decisions. "After two years you come out with a job and you've got a skill set that's practical," explains Adam. "You can make a good living at it for your entire life if that's what you choose."
Adam is working toward his four-year bachelor's degree through distance learning and hopes to move up to JCP&L management. Where bucket trucks are involved, the sky's the limit.