Seattle City (spot)Light: Sam Heck

Sam Heck joined City Light in February as part of the pre-apprentice line worker program. “I really enjoy this program,” Sam shared. “It’s rewarding to see the finished product at the end of a job. I can look up at a new pole with a transformer and service wires and know that my work will be there for decades.”

A PNW native, Sam grew up in Federal Way and has spent his whole life in Washington state. He attended college at Washington State University where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in mathematics. He lives in Kirkland with his fiancé Jamie and their husky Koda.
“My favorite part of Kirkland is its lake/beach town vibe and surrounding greenery,” Sam said. “It’s access to bicycle trails provides a lot of versatility for outdoor activities. We also like to paddle board in the Juanita Beach cove and hike around the region. We recently did the Icicle Ridge trail near Leavenworth; it was awesome.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Sam talks about the apprentice program and shares words of wisdom for others interested in this career path.

Sam and his fiancé Jamie

“The pre-apprenticeship program is on the job training. You’re with the crews learning ground men activities. You’re working from the ground, helping the journey men in the air. The tasks vary but usually you’re providing materials, assembling parts and getting them the tools that they need. This all happens in the first phase of the program. After you complete this portion and pass climbing school, you move on as a first step apprentice which is where I am now. There are seven steps in the program and it takes about 3 ½ years to complete.”

“Before the pre-apprenticeship program, I worked as a payloads engineer for a major aircraft manufacturer. I helped design the interior of commercial aircrafts. After six years of sitting at a desk and staring at a computer, I realized that I wanted more. I had a desire to get outside and learn to work with my hands. This field requires a great balance of energy, skill and knowledge. It’s very fulfilling to work with a group of passionate people who are providing a necessary service to the community.”

“I’m very fortunate to have been selected as a pre-apprentice line worker. I came into it with a different background—no construction experience, no industry related work. This program is special because it enables someone with the right personal qualities to be molded into a proficient electrical worker, even with no familiarity of the industry. This is clear by looking at the level proficiency in the apprentice classes above me.”

“The advice I’d share with individuals entering this field is that every day is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to learn something new. Journeymen often say to learn at least one thing a day. As a first step apprentice, I climb utility poles to work on the secondary electrical power. I also help set new and existing power poles. There is an incredible amount to learn. Always carry a notepad with you and dedicate yourself fully. We value safety and craftsmanship above all else, so this work requires strict attention to detail. It’s very difficult, but very rewarding.”