5G expansion is giving this industry a boost

Demand for cellphone tower climbers booms

As the demand for faster internet grows, technical advances in cellphone service have also sparked a demand for climbers with technical skills and strong stomachs to install new gear atop cellphone towers, enabling them for 5G. Telecom giant Ericsson is meeting the need with a training camp for the booming blue-collar industry.

Ericsson, responsible for the rollout of 5G, is running a 13,000-square-foot outdoor training camp in Lewisville, Texas. The camp is designed to teach thousands of people to install new gear atop the high towers.

People like Brody Lewis, a former marine who described himself as "an active person," has the mindset that the industry's recruiters are looking for. "I don't want to put a suit on every day and go to a desk job and be the same thing over and over and over," he said during his first week of climbing school.

One climber, Sebastian Campbell, told CBS News' Kenneth Craig the opportunity was "exhilarating."

"I want to do something that most people just really can't do. It's just a thrill, and thrill-seeking is what I'm here for," he said.

Matt Jones oversees regional operations for Ericsson, and he stressed the crucial role climbers play in the company's 5G rollout

"They're absolutely critical to our business," he said. "We can't do 5G in North America without our people who climb, without our teams that work out in the field."

Despite trainees' enthusiasm, Jones is aware it is difficult to find people willing to climb all the way to the top strapped with 50 lbs. of gear. 

"The work's not easy. It's demanding. More than anything, it's the height," he said. "We have a lot of people that work at heights between 100 feet and up to 350, 400 feet on a daily basis. So you've got to be willing to climb, you've got to be comfortable once you're up there, and you've got to physically be able to do it."

Jones, himself a former climber, did highlight the positive notes: "You can see for miles. And if the weather's good, it's awesome being up there."

The daunting job's relevance has also been attracting people who prefer something other than a 9-to-5, but are worried about the disappearance of most blue-collar jobs.

"It's not going to be the end, there are more 'Gs' to follow," Jones said, referring to the never-ending race for better, faster tech

"This isn't something that we're turning around just for the couple of years of 5G deployment. This is the way our industry is going, and it's a commitment we made to be successful in that space."