About Nil

Lineman institute is an educational institution that provides safety and certification training in the power delivery, natural gas, and telecommunications industries.
NLC offers complete solutions from pre-apprentice to advanced training and has remained committed to doing what’s best for the student for more than 25 years.
Since 1993, NLC has grown to over 300 employees with 4 campus locations across the United States.




Interested in joining NLC?

Mission Statement

To improve lives, the industries we serve, and the country, Northwest Lineman College will be a dynamic, visionary, and leading international educational institution providing the benchmark standard of human performance, training, and products for the trades that exceed the expectation of customers.

Our Core Values


Love what you do and have fun.


Do the right thing—even when no one is watching.


Innovate always and be professional.


Companies from across the U.S. and world regularly contact NLC for training. Over the years, NLC has led and consulted on several international training initiatives.

Kabul, Afghanistan

NLC partnered with Symbion Power to design a training center, write curriculum in the Dari and Farsi languages, and develop a way to deliver the curriculum in Afghanistan. NLC learned valuable lessons from this international experience and the partnership continued to other continents.

Morogoro, Tanzania

NLC partnered with Symbion Power to train Tanzanians to build power lines in their country. NLC provided train the trainer instruction, developed curriculum and training videos in Swahili, designed a training center and delivered training in country.


NLC attracts students and companies from across the nation to individual and enterprise-wide training solutions.

Each white dot represents a power or construction company
that uses NLC training. Triangles represent campus locations.


NLC training specialists wear special maroon shirts that only they can wear—they are not available for sale. Often referred to as “The Spine of the Company,” these experienced tradesworkers are educational professionals who are trained to teach adult learners.

NLC Highlight


Aaron Howell
Founder of Lineman institute

Alan Drew
Senior VP of Research & Development (retired)

Jeff Morris
Training Advisor

Bill Bosch
VP of Campus Operations

Bob Smith
Training Specialist (retired)

Mark Groves
NLC Alumnus & President of NLC Innovations


Several high-level leaders, including NLC Founder Aaron Howell, are tradesworkers who have earned degrees and special certifications in education, engineering, and business.


NLC developed its own special method of instruction called the Three-Phase Educational Model, which focuses on the three domains of learning while providing a quality education in a positive learning environment.


NLC’s curriculum is designed to accommodate individual differences among learners through a special blend of text, photos, graphics and smart video learning, links to videos designed to enhance the curriculum and enhance knowledge retention.

Education & Training

NLC provides training at every stage of a worker’s career from entry-level to advanced. For companies, NLC offers on-campus and distance learning programs that fulfill the Department of Labor’s requirements for a formalized apprenticeship. NLC’s mobile training team delivers training at utilities and construction companies all over the country.

Training Products

NLC Innovations & Manufacturing produce revolutionary safety and training products for the industry.


The TransBanker is a transformer training simulator providing a hands-on way to teach linemen how to correctly select, bank, and connect transformers. It comes in two forms, a mobile or stationary lab.

Mobile Tech Gas OQ Lab

The Gas Tech Mobile Training and Operator Qualification (OQ) Lab travels across the nation as a training and operation qualification simulator used to combine classroom lecture and exercises with hands-on training.


The OX BLOCK is an all-in-one handline and rescue system. The product is licensed to Buckingham Manufacturing and launched in fall 2013. It was received with great enthusiasm by the trade and stands as one of the most successful product launches by Buckingham.

NLC History

1992 A Poke in the shoulder

It was a crisp spring day in 1992 when Gerald McKie poked Aaron Howell in the shoulder with the idea of starting a private educational institution dedicated to training lineworkers. In his mellow approach, and with his index finger firmly planted in Howell’s shoulder, he said, “We should start our own program, Bud.” After some analysis and surveying interest, the applications poured in and some even sent tuition checks. Northwest Lineman institute(NLI) was officially a go.

1993 Founding Northwest Lineman institute(NLI)

NLC, led by its three founders—Gerald McKie, Aaron Howell, and Shane Porter—launched its first class August 4, 1993 at a rented lumber yard in Meridian, Idaho. They divided up the classes and delivered training to twenty-two students from five states.

1997 Alan Drew, industry legend, joins NLC

Alan Drew played a pivotal role in the formalization of NLC’s operations and the development of many programs and services. Alan is a legend in the industry. After retiring from a long and rewarding career as General Superintendent of Clallam County PUD, he invested another 20 years at NLC. Alan’s remarkable career culminated in the completion of two of the most exhaustive books in existence on the history of linemen: “The American Lineman” and “The American Lineman: Spanning The Strait.” He also had the honor of being inducted into the International Lineman Hall of Fame in 2008

2002 3,396 Pages – NLC completes First Power Delivery Program

As early as 1992, Aaron Howell and Gerry Mckie had talked about writing a modernized curriculum for the Power Delivery Industry. However, it was not until 1998 that the creation of a distance-learning training program would pick up momentum. Howell put in long hours working from home for 18 months to write the program. The Power Delivery Program was later named the Lineworker Certification Program, reserving “Power Delivery Program,” for the entire department which would grow to include five total distance-learning apprenticeship programs.

2006 NLC California Campus opens

With twenty-five percent of Idaho’s students coming from California, NLC made a strategic move to open a campus in northern California. After a long time searching, the city of Oroville was chosen as a fitting location to establish the new campus. On November 6, 2006, 42 ELP students showed up for the first day of class and the campus has continued to grow since.

2008 NLC develops curriculum and training program in Afghanistan

In 2008, NLC partnered with Symbion Power to develop a plan to deliver training in Afghanistan. There were three elements for NLC’s part of the project: design the training center, write the curriculum in Dari and Farsi, and then deliver the training. Unfortunately, because of extenuating circumstances in the political climate, Symbion did not win the contract. However, NLC completed much of the foundational work for the project and overcame many challenges related to education in another culture and language.

NLC creates the “Crystal Awards” for employee recognition

The book “How Full Is Your Bucket” identifies that sixty-five percent of Americans are not recognized in the workplace for their value. This prompted President, Aaron Howell to trigger the development of a one-of-a-kind annual awards system to recognize employees for their contributions. In 2008, NLC held its first annual Crystal Awards ceremony and it was a huge success. Since then, The Crystal Awards continue to highlight NLC’s unwavering commitment to recognize employees.

2009 NLC starts video production department

To further expand the effectiveness of curriculum, NLC started a video production department to create training videos in-house. Today, NLC Creative provides award-winning video production, graphic design, and many other digital media services to support NLC marketing, training, and internal communications.

2010 NLC delivers curriculum and training in Tanzania

Two years after NLC’s development work for the Afghanistan project, Symbion Power called on NLC again to deliver training overseas. This time it was in Morogoro, Tanzania. NLC produced curriculum and training videos in English and Swahili, delivered a “Train the Trainer” program, designed the training center in Tanzania, and delivered training in country. It was a monumental task. Since 2010, several hundred lineworkers have graduated from the program and have built power lines in Tanzania.

NLC Texas Campus opens

In October of 2010, NLC opened its third campus in Denton, Texas. Soon after, a major line construction conglomerate contacted NLC and wanted to provide training for its lineman apprenticeship program on campus. Scores of apprentices were scheduled throughout the year and for much of the time there were as many, if not more, apprentice linemen training on campus than ELP pre-apprentice linemen.

2013 NLC Invents the Ox Block®

In 2012, NLC decided to invest in developing and manufacturing safety and educational tools for the trade. The first project was developing a device to solve the archaic method of pole-top and tower rescue. This resulted in the OX BLOCK, an all-in-one handline and rescue system. The product was licensed to Buckingham Manufacturing and launched in fall 2013. It was received with great enthusiasm by the trade and stands as one of the most successful product launches by Buckingham.

2016 NLC Florida Campus opens

NLC opened its fourth campus in Edgewater, FL to increase its ability to offer training services to students and companies in the region. With an initial class of around 30 students, NLC Florida opened its doors and has continued to grow in class size and service offering.

NLC invents the TransBanker™

After the success of the OX BLOCK, NLC’s Innovations & Manufacturing team began developing the TransBanker. The TransBanker is a transformer training simulator providing a hands-on way to teach linemen how to correctly select, bank, and connect transformers. It comes in two forms, a mobile or stationary lab.

2019 NLC Launches pre-apprentice Telecommunications and Gas training programs

For over 25 years, NLC had focused all its efforts on education and training in the power delivery industry. With years of perfecting educational delivery models and training instructors how to teach to adult learners, the time had come to apply that knowledge and experience to education in additional trades; telecommunications and natural gas. In 2019, NLC added new entry-level career programs to its offerings: Natural Gas Technician Program and Telecommunications Lineworker Program.

2020 NLC invents the Gas Tech Mobile Training And OQ Lab

With the well-received release of the TransBanker, NLC began working on the next great idea. The Gas Tech Mobile Training and Operator Qualification (OQ) Lab was designed to travel across the nation as a training and operation qualification simulator used to combine classroom lecture and exercises with hands-on training.