MEET THE PRO: Matthew Cotner, Electrician

By Arkansas Next on Monday, October 25, 2021

Jacob Slaton

Hometown: Morrilton
Age: 31

Where I trained: Arkansas Construction Education Foundation (ACEF) and Koontz Electric

Where I earned: On-the-job training at Koontz Electric, ACEF electrical apprenticeship, Arkansas Journeyman Electrical License, Arkansas Master Electrical License, Construction Quality Management for Contractors USACE, EM 385 Fall Protection, OSHA 10, NFPA 70E, HAZCOM, CPR/First Aid, DOD Anti-Terrorism iWatch, CIP Certified by Homeland Security, Entergy Powersafe

Job title: General foreman
Employer: Koontz Electric

Matthew Cotner decided early on that he wanted to earn money while he learned, so he took a job with Koontz Electric where he could participate in on-the-job training and still receive a paycheck. Matthew is now a general foreman for Koontz Electric and can be seen leading high voltage electrical installations in substations and switchyards nationwide.

Matthew takes great pride in his work because his completed projects serve the national electrical grid for the generation of renewable energy which powers the lives of every person living within the United States.

Matthew has never regretted his decision to pursue a career in electricity because it allowed him to get recognized as an industry professional much sooner than a college graduate might be, he was able to avoid student debt entirely and buy a house at an early age. With his early experience, he was able to start adult life strong.

"The national electrical grid is the backbone of our country. This critical infrastructure powers all our lives." –Matthew

Jacob Slaton


Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. A general foreman is the on-site leadership for high voltage electrical installations.


  • Ensure the safety of all crew members with daily review and planning
  • Direct crew member tasks for equipment installation
  • Quality control to guarantee final installation meets owner requirement
  • Project documentation for Job Safety Analysis, Daily Job Report and As-built information

Education needed: Graduate from a certified apprenticeship program, 320 classroom hours and 8,000 on-the-job hours; and obtain an Arkansas Journeyman License and Arkansas Master Electrical License

Job Outlook

► +12% expected growth by 2028 in Arkansas

► 6,970 jobs in Arkansas by 2028

► 840 average annual job openings in Arkansas

This option is for you if

  • You love to learn
  • You like working with your hands
  • You are a natural leader
  • You can work efficiently and safely
  • You take pride in your work

High-end earners in Arkansas (top 10%) make

Median wages in Arkansas
$42,470 Annual
$20.42 Hourly

• Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
• Arkansas Construction Education Foundation
• Arkansas Northeastern College
• Arkansas State University–Newport
• Arkansas State University–Three Rivers
• Business & Industry Training
• Cargill
• National Park College
• Paschal Heat & Air
• Simmons Foods
• Thompson Electric
• Tyson Foods Inc.
• UAM College of Technology–Crossett
• University of Arkansas Hope–Texarkana

• Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation
• Cargill
• Central Moloney Inc.
• Koontz Electric
• McKee Foods Corporation
• Pace Industries
• Paschal Heat & Air
• Simmons Foods
• Thompson Electric
• Tyson Foods Inc.
• Welsco