Guests on NCC’s Bethlehem campus are sometimes startled to see groups of men and women hanging atop a cluster of utility poles located behind the Hartzell Center for Technology. It’s not because the college is experiencing phone or internet issues.

Helmet clad and safety harnessed, the bunch are being trained in one of the most distinctive programs offered at NCC.

“The line worker training program has been running for seven years at NCC, and is unique to our college,” said Lauren Loeffler, vice president of workforce development at the college. “Very few schools nationally offer this training; we’ve even had students come from out of state to participate. 

“We’ve trained more than 200 line workers during this time, preparing them for great careers that support public and private utility companies, cable providers, tree maintenance experts and surgeons, and more.”

According to Loeffler, the positions offer impressive starting salaries, major overtime opportunities, and upward mobility in apprentice and journeyman programs. “For those who are willing to brave the elements, work hard, and never stop thinking about safety, it’s a great career choice,” said Loeffler.

With that in mind, the most recent line worker class completed their program on Sept. 1, with four graduates having already accepted jobs and the balance scheduling second interviews to weigh their employment options and opportunities.

The cohort was a bit unusual in that the group began training on March 16.  After one day of classes, the college shut down due to COVID-19.  “Our staff stayed in touch with all students on a weekly basis to update them on plans for re-opening,” said Loeffler. 

Happily, in June Gov. Wolf recognized the program as training “essential” workers and it re-started June 15 with students from very diverse backgrounds and work experience, including a U.S. Air Force veteran.

Pre-COVID, relatives and friends of program graduates were welcomed to the graduation ceremony to hear about their progression through the program, successful completion, future employment and accolades from our instructors.  But this fall’s ceremony was different!  Only students, instructors, and program leadership and support staff were in attendance, with 30 family and friends participating live via Zoom.  

For more information about enrolling in the line worker program, contact Christine Wagner at 610-861-5577 or cwagner@northampton.edu