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  1. Default Ask An NLC Grad Anything - Northwest Lineman College

    Many men want to know the best way to break into electrical work. There are many questions about trade schools on the forums but there seem to be few answers. Hopefully this will answer some questions from first hand experience.

    A lot of you are going to have second thoughts about this industry once you figure out what live-line work is. Or the first time you climb a 90 foot wood pole on a windy day. This is not for everyone.

    NLC is expensive. With all the bells and whistles the cost is almost $15K or about $1000/week. As others have said there is no guarantee of employment. So what do you get for all this time and effort?

    The school is split into two main sections: Academics and Field Work. The academics consist of grade school math and science. There is very little to learn here. Between working on the calculator and memorizing OSHA sections you will not take away much practical knowledge.

    Field work is practicing basic chores such as hanging a crossarm or changing insulators. These are not complicated or strenuous task. However they can be very challenging when working with nonfunctional or nonexistant materials. Frequently there are more students than work stations so the day consist of "hurry up and wait". Since the task are simple NLC created a way to test the students: racing. Everything you do in the field is a race against the clock. Its not how good you do it, its how fast you can do it. This would have disastrous results as we will see later.

    In the field you will work in four (4) men crews. In the first half the session your team will be random (by last name). Halfway thru the term you will change crews. This is where it gets interesting. NLC will pair (2) high performers with (2) men who are struggling. Before I met my new crew I was told privately that it would consist of (2) failing students and it was my job to get them thru graduation. I spent the last half of the term more-or-less babysitting my crew.

    In the classroom at NLC you will learn that safety is a value. Priorities change but values never do. You will also learn that safety is left in the classroom and not practiced in the field. OSHA required hearing protection has to be requested by the student- and might be able to get it. The first aid kits on the campus are years beyond expiration. Basic tools such as insulation strippers are in short supply so the students are instructed to use their personal pocket knives. This practice resulted in two (2) injuries requiring medical care. Another individual managed to belt over the top of a pole while racing (i.e. Fell off). This is something that should never happen but in fact occured in the previous term as well. Standing in the hospital talking to a doctor about the patients injuries and future care was no fun.

    The career course at NLC consists of little more than telling students to fill out online applications. Zero experience + online applications is a poor way to find a job. But there is always the union. I signed on with two halls as a groundman. I was told they do not recognize NLC training and it would be a multi-month wait for work. We had four (4) recruiters speak to us on campus. Two (2) of them said they were not hiring (really). Only a handful of men found jobs in this manner.

    The campus facilities, classroom material and marketing at NLC are of the highest quality. Unfortunately NLC is All Show / No Go. I now understand why the old hands look down on these new schools. Northwest Lineman College is a premium-priced school that fails to deliver. If you want to do Electrical Utility work by all means go get a job. But don't waste your time and money at school.

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