The program was originally developed in response to a nationwide shortage of skilled line workers, a demand that continues today. 

Why Study to Become a Line Worker at Highlands College of Montana Tech?

According to a recent survey of the Montana utility industry, there is still a significant need for individuals with the skills provided by the Pre-Apprentice Line Program.

One-Semester Program

Our one-semester Pre-Apprentice Line certificate program prepares you for groundman and apprentice positions within the line trade. You will learn how to assist with the installation, construction, maintenance, and repair of electrical power line systems.

Before beginning the behind-the-wheel training for the Class A Commercial Driver’s License, students must complete the three-part Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL-A) written permit exam. After successful completion of the behind-the-wheel training requirements for the Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL-A) are met, the student must complete the CDL-A skills exam administered by the Montana Motor Vehicle Division, to become a licensed CDL-A driver, before entering the workforce. 

Collaboration with Employers

The program is an ongoing collaborative effort of many organizations who have come together to oversee the program and ensure future line-workers have the skills needed in industry. These include Montana Technological University, Montana Department of Labor and Industry, NorthWestern Energy, Montana Co-op Association, Rural Electric Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and National Electrical Contractors Association.

Applying for the Program

The line program combines classroom teaching with extensive, carefully-planned field training.  Students will work with experienced instructors to learn the tasks and skills essential to the trade.  Safety procedures are discussed and practiced with each task.   To participate in this program, you:

  • Must not have a fear of heights!
  • Should have good manual dexterity.
  • Must like to work outdoors in changing weather conditions.
  • Be physically fit. 
  • Weigh less than 275 pounds (bucket trucks have weight limits).

The first week of training will include intensive pole work.

The program space is limited, and first come, first served. Admission to Highlands College does not guarantee admission to the Pre-Apprenticeship Line Program.

Admission Requirements

The following criteria must be met before admission will be granted to the Line program. Initial admission to the program is based on a first-come first-served process. The first individuals to apply for a specific semester will have a slot reserved pending submission of the remaining items listed below.

  1. Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical: Applicants must complete and pass the DOT physical. Applicants should contact their personal physician to fulfill this requirement. A copy of the completed DOT examination form must be submitted to the Admissions Office. Please keep your original card. If your physician is not DOT certified you can search for DOT certified physicians by area:
  2. Immunization records: Proof of two doses of Measles, Mumps, Rubella. Your high school should have these on file or you can check with the Health Department.
  3. Valid driver’s license: Please submit a copy of your current valid driver’s license.
  4. Official transcripts: Official high school transcripts and college transcripts (if applicable). If you are a current high school senior, please send a copy of your unofficial transcripts to hold your spot until you graduate and can submit the official copy.
  5. Age: Applicants must be at least 18 years of age before the first 2 weeks of the semester of study are complete.

The Line Program is unique in that students complete 30 credits in one semester, and students pay tuition and fees that differ from the rest of Highlands College. For the 2024/25 academic year, Montana residents pay a total of $10,336, Non-residents pay $13,776, while the cost is $11,109 for students with Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) status. Choose Tuition & Financial Aid below to connect with a Financial Aid specialist who can provide additional assistance regarding cost.

Additional Program Requirements

Once you are accepted into the program there are program requirements specific to the Pre-Apprentice Line Program in addition to the Admissions requirements. Because students will be earning their CDL class A, the following are required:

  1. MVRS (Motor Vehicle Records): no major violations within 5 years (DUI, OVI-operating vehicle impaired) and no more than 3 moving violations in 3 years.
  2. CLP: Please make every attempt to obtain your CLP (written permit) prior to the start date of the program. You must pass this written exam and obtain the CLP before you can start driving. The link to schedule the exam is
    Please note: you must be 18 years of age at the time you take the CDL written exam.         
  3. Drug Testing: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that individuals subject to the CDL requirements follow alcohol and drug testing rules. Drug testing will be conducted the first week of class.
  4. Equipment: Students will need to bring their own boots and starting Spring 2025 students will also need to bring their own belts.

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What is a Line Worker?

A Line Worker (or Powerline Worker) constructs and maintains the electric transmission and distribution facilities that deliver electrical energy to industrial, commercial, and residential establishments. A Line Worker installs, services, and repairs electrical lines in the case of lightning, wind, ice storm, or ground disruptions.

What Kinds of Jobs Do Line Workers Get?

ine Workers are employed by electrical companies and rural electric cooperatives. Other job opportunities include: Gas Tech, Equipment Operator, Broad Band Tech, Inside Wireman, Pole Inspector, and CDL Driver.

This is a high-demand field with immediate need and anticipated growth throughout Montana and the nation.


Median annual salary for line workers, 2021


Number of line worker jobs in the U.S. 2021


Projected annual workforce growth through 2031

Explore Classes in the Pre-Apprenticeship Line Program

You’ll receive personal, hands-on instruction throughout the semester of courses. You’ll have opportunities to work with a wide variety of tools, equipment, and techniques typically used in the line industry.

Learn More About the Pre-Apprentice Line Program
Tuition & Financial Aid

Calculate your cost of attendance.

Catalog Details

See exactly which classes are included in the pre-apprenticeship line program.

Career Outcomes

100% placement rate most years

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