Faculty Appreciation Month – Travis Tollette

TWS is a Great Training Option for Everyone

Learn more about how we can prepare you to advance your career.

Travis, 37, is a hometown Tulsa, Oklahoma, guy. Travis is an electrical instructor at Tulsa Welding School and has been with the school for about seven months. 

Thanks for your time, Travis; how long have you been in the electrical field?

Seven years, and a lot of that time was spent in service, so I worked alone as a residential electrician. 

So, you came to the electrical trade around the age of 30. Did you have a prior career?

I got out of high school and went to Oklahoma State, but that didn’t work out. I got a job at a gas station, and then I got in my head that I needed to go to the military. I signed up with the U.S. Army for five years, and it was a really good thing for me. I was a military policeman, and I was stationed in Alaska, which is really cool. I’d love to live up there again someday. I recommend it…once you get past the cold, the air’s really clean, and if you’re into outdoor stuff, especially winter stuff, you’ll have plenty of time to do that. I also went to Iraq; I don’t recommend going there. Once I got out, I installed appliances for two/three long years, and then I actually went and worked at the post office.

Have You Considered a Career in the Skilled Trades?

Fill out the form to recieve a no obligation info packet.

You are giving your express written consent for Tulsa Welding School to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone or text including our use of automated technology for calls or texts to any wireless number you provide. This consent is not required to purchase goods or services and you may always call us directly at (855) 237-7711.

+ Read More

Did you go to a trade school, or did you learn on the job?

I got into a trade school in 2017; it was a shorter program than we offer here. It took me through the basics and then they set me up with a job. I worked at Faith Technologies, which is a pretty heavy commercial business. They work for a big tech company that I’m not technically supposed to talk about.

How long did you work there?

I stayed there for about nine months and then realized I was losing money because I was driving an hour each way each day. Then I took another job where I drove even further away before I finally got closer to home. Then I realized that this 60-hour week business is for the birds. I was getting a little older. I figured I’d try and find something where I can get 40 hours a week, and long story short, I ended up in electrical service and it just fit. It was a good field for me, and it was something I really enjoyed doing. 

How long did you spend as a service tech?

About four years or so. It was straight up service, and it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of different things and do a lot of different things regarding residential houses. 

What made you go into teaching last year?

Before I got into the trades, way back when, I thought about teaching. But I wanted to be a history teacher, and basically be a football coach. That desire was still there. Talking in front of people is like the number one fear for most people, but it’s something I’ve been comfortable with through my various experiences.

What got me into teaching now was the fact that I’d talked the company I was working for into hiring my brother. I pretty much taught him everything; he went from knowing nothing about electrical to getting ready to take his journeyman’s test in the next few months. I really enjoyed it, and that’s when I figured it out that maybe I can do this teaching thing. It’s been really great so far. It was a big change, pretty much a career change. Obviously, I still know a lot about electrical, but teaching in itself is a big jump. 

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up, a football coach?

Something in sports. Football player was always high on the list, but as I got older in high school, I realized I didn’t have the size, speed, or ability! From there, I slipped into wanting to be a crime scene investigator. CSI was a big TV show around that time, so that’s what I wanted to do. That’s what I went to Oklahoma State University for, for all of one semester. I did too much partying and I didn’t last very long! But I got a taste of college, the good and the bad; it was definitely an experience I’m glad I had. I learned a lot as far as dedicating myself to something, instead of partying so much!

Good you took that from it at least! What do you like best about teaching?

Interacting with the students, especially in the hands-on labs that we have. That’s the best way for a lot of these students to learn – to get their hands-on actual wiring. Excuse the electrical pun, but you do kind of see a ‘lightbulb’ moment, a kind of “Aha” moment where everything just clicks, and everything starts running smoothly. It’s like they’ve got it all figured out now; actually no, not everything figured out, but they’ve got the concepts down and they can start to do the work and improve. That’s what we’re looking for – that improvement and that lightbulb moment. It happens with every student, regardless of how much they say, “Oh, I am afraid. I’m nervous, I can’t do this.” By the end of a lot of our courses, they’re more comfortable and they’ve got these concepts figured out. 

Tell me something most people don’t know about you.

I play disc golf. It’s gaining in popularity; it’s just like golf, except that you throw a Frisbee! I do it for fun, especially if I start a round really badly! It’s something that I started doing with my friends, and then I used it to lose weight. It’s helped me lose over 40 pounds! I highly encourage anybody who’s not doing anything active to get involved with disc golf. It’s just hiking and throwing discs!

If you could choose to have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would that be?

I’m a big NFL football fan, so I’d probably have to go with my favorite player of all time – John Elway, quarterback for the Denver Broncos in the 90s. I grew up watching him and that’s where my passion for football came from. He’s still around but he’s not involved with the game anymore, sadly.

Does that mean you’re a Broncos fan?

Absolutely, yeah. I actually have twin boys and one of them, my wife wouldn’t let me name him Elway, but I got the name ‘Denver’ in, so I thought, alright, that’ll work for me!

Tell us a little more about your family, Travis.

Well, my wife Lisa and I have been married for 10 years next January. Our twin boys are aged seven. I also have a daughter who lives in Nevada with my ex-wife.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you have for new students just starting out at TWS? 

I could give several pieces of advice, but the biggest one is, stick with it. It’s not always going to be bright, sunny days going through school, especially if you have to work too. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough for a little while, but if you stick with it, you will make it through the other side. You’ll get a career that you’ll love, you’ll make a good living, earn a decent amount of money. So, stick with it. Don’t get discouraged because life is tough at that moment.

Another thing I tell my students to help them in the real world is this: if you do these three things on most job sites, you’ll stay ahead. Show up every day to work; show up on time every day and show up with a positive attitude every day. If you can do those three things, you will go a long way in this career. 

You get an unexpected day off, what would you do?

If it’s nice weather, and typically the kids are at school and the wife is at work, I’d probably go play disc golf and enjoy the weather. If it’s not nice out, I’ll go home and play video games!

What was your favorite part of the industry when you worked in the field?

I would say it was the time I worked for Mullen Plumbing, I worked there for a little over two years doing electrical service work for them. It was a plumbing company, and there was a time when I was the only electrician they had. I was doing a lot of on-call work, but I had a really good boss. He let me do what I needed to do. He wouldn’t hover over my shoulder. It was really nice to have that freedom to just get stuff done and not have somebody breathing down your neck about it.

If you could tell anyone “Thank you” for helping you become the man you you are today, who would that be?

When I look back through my military career and the different aspects of my life, there are so many. But I’ll go with someone from electrical, and believe it or not, his name is Charlie Brown. He was my trade school instructor. He laid the foundation for me as far as knowing how to do electric work. He was a great guy. I was the top student in his class; we spent a lot of time talking and going to events. He was an older guy and he’d been in the electric trade for 20+ years at the time. He took time out of his contracting work to come and instruct us. He was fantastic, an excellent instructor. I still have him on Facebook. 

Thank you, Travis for your contributions to TWS!