Job with a view
Jessica Kilroy climbs to the top of wind turbines to fix them.

Sequoia Haughey


R.1, R.3, L.3

The Sky’s the Limit!

Jessica Kilroy spends most of her time at work 350 feet in the air.

Sequoia Haughey

    Do you get nervous at the top of a tall building? Does your heart pound when you look at the photos on this page? You’re not alone. Fear of heights is one of the most common fears. But Jessica Kilroy doesn’t have it. She’s a rope access technician. That means she repairs wind turbines by climbing them with ropes. 

    Wind turbines are giant machines that turn wind into electricity. They stand tall in empty fields and on mountaintops. In the future, you’ll be seeing more and more of them. That’s because wind energy is good for the environment. It doesn’t create pollution like some other energy sources do. 

    We talked to Jessica about her high-flying job.

What exactly do you do?

    Wind turbine blades can get damaged by lightning, snow, and dust. When that happens, I climb up and fix them.

How do you get to the top?

    The turbines have a ladder inside them that goes all the way up to the top—usually about 350 feet. (That’s about as tall as a 30-story skyscraper!) Once I get to the top, I lock the blades so they won’t turn. Then I climb out onto the blade to fix it. I’m always secured with two sets of ropes so I won’t fall. 

How did you get this job?

    I’ve been a rock climber for a long time. I was trying to think of ways to use my climbing skills. I was lucky to stumble across my dream job! 

What makes someone a good rope access technician?

    You have to love heights, of course. You also need to be levelheaded in stressful situations. And there is a lot of traveling—we go all over the world. I was traveling 10 out of 12 months in 2019!

What’s your favorite part of being a rope access technician?

    I love working all alone up so high. When you’re up on a turbine, you’re higher than anything around you. The views are really beautiful! 

—Reporting by Emma Coburn

Mini Skills Workout

Jessica says she needs to stay levelheaded. What is another word she could have used? Write it on a separate piece of paper.

What are two qualities that help Jessica in her job?

Find a sentence where Jessica explains how she stays safe when she’s up high. Write it on a separate piece of paper.

Skills Sheets (1)