(HARLINGEN, Texas) - Javier Garcia gave up a lucrative dump truck service he owned in order to work in an entry-level position at the Brownsville Public Utilities Board -- for an entry-level wage.
But the new Texas State Technical College Electrical Lineworker Technology instructor does not have any regrets. In fact, he would gladly repeat his decision in a heartbeat.
“I would do it again and again,” Garcia said. “It was a good experience. Learning everything was really cool.”
While taking and hauling dirt to and from Brownsville PUB, Garcia would notice workers climbing the utility poles on the property. He already had a career change in mind, especially after a friend had an accident with one of his trucks.
After going to school to get some electrical training, Garcia eventually applied for employment at Brownsville PUB, selling his equipment after getting a job. At Brownsville PUB, he worked his way from the bottom up, starting as a helper before gaining the experience he needed to become an apprentice lineman, then a lineman, and finally a certified lineman.
“I ended up doing 13 years for the company before I saw the opportunity to come over here with TSTC and try to show off my knowledge with students,” Garcia said.
The fall semester that begins Monday, Aug. 30, will be Garcia’s first in the TSTC pole yard on the campus in Harlingen.
“I just want to go in there and try to learn everything as much as I can to be able to teach the students about work,” he said. “I’m coming straight off the line.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electrical Lineworker Technology and an Electrical Lineworker certificate of completion.
“I’m going to try my best to make it fun and pretty much show my skills,” Garcia said. “I’m pretty sure students are going to love it, and it’s a very good industry. It’s been really good to me.”
Electrical powerline installers and repairers can make an average annual salary of $55,880 in Texas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those positions are expected to grow by 16% in the state through 2028, according to onetonline.org.
Garcia added that TSTC students will have the advantage of not starting at the bottom, like he did, when they obtain careers after graduation. Instead, their hands-on training will set them up with the potential for success.
“I had to learn it a different way -- it was on the go,” he said. “Over here, they’re going to be in a nice environment, learning at their own pace. I think it’s going to be really rewarding for me and for them.”
Garcia’s most important advice for lineworker students is to be mindful of safety.
“Learn all the safety equipment that we have. Learn it well,” he said. “It’s very important that you go to work -- and you come home. At the end of the day, that’s what you’re doing it for. You want to work for these companies because you want to make good money and go home to your family.”
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.