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Become A Lineman

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Working As A Lineman

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Deal with People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $66,450

    Average Salary

What Does A Lineman Do

Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.

Duties

Electrical power-line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Install, maintain, or repair the power lines that move electricity
  • Identify defective devices, voltage regulators, transformers, and switches
  • Inspect and test power lines and auxiliary equipment
  • String power lines between poles, towers, and buildings
  • Climb poles and transmission towers and use truck-mounted buckets to get to equipment
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Follow safety standards and procedures

Telecommunications line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Install, maintain, or repair telecommunications equipment
  • Inspect or test lines or cables
  • Lay underground cable, including fiber optic lines, directly in trenches
  • Pull cables in underground conduit
  • Install aerial cables, including over lakes or across rivers
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Set up service for customers

A complex network of physical power lines and cables provides consumers with electricity, landline telephone communication, cable television, and Internet access. Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, are responsible for installing and maintaining these networks.

Line installers and repairers can specialize in different areas depending on the type of network and industry in which they work:

Electrical power-line installers and repairers install and maintain the power grid—the network of power lines that moves electricity from generating plants to customers. They routinely work with high-voltage electricity, which requires extreme caution. The electrical current can range from hundreds of thousands of volts for long-distance transmission lines that make up the power grid to less than 10,000 volts for distribution lines that supply electricity to homes and businesses.

Line workers who maintain the interstate power grid work in crews that travel to locations throughout a large region to service transmission lines and towers. Workers employed by local utilities work mainly with lower voltage distribution lines, maintaining equipment such as transformers, voltage regulators, and switches. They also may work on traffic lights and street lights.

Telecommunications line installers and repairers install and maintain the lines and cables used by network communications companies. Depending on the service provided—local and long-distance telephone, cable television, or Internet—telecommunications companies use different types of cables, including fiber-optic cables. Unlike metallic cables that carry electricity, fiber-optic cables are made of glass and transmit signals using light. Working with fiber optics requires special skills, such as the ability to splice and terminate optical cables. Additionally, workers use specialized equipment to test and troubleshoot cables and networking equipment.

Because these systems are complicated, many line workers also specialize by duty:

Line installers install new cable. They may work for construction contractors, utilities, or telecommunications companies. Workers generally start a new job by digging underground trenches or erecting utility poles and towers to carry the wires and cables. They use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, which are trucks equipped with augers and cranes used to dig holes in the ground and set poles in place. Line installers also use trenchers, cable plows, and directional bore machines, which are used to cut openings in the earth to lay underground cables. Once the poles, towers, tunnels, or trenches are ready, workers install the new cable.

Line repairers are employed by utilities and telecommunications companies that maintain existing power and telecommunications lines. Maintenance needs may be identified in a variety of ways, including remote monitoring, aerial inspections, and by customer reports of service outages. Line repairers often must replace aging or outdated equipment, so many of these workers have installation duties in addition to their repair duties.

When a problem is reported, line repairers must identify the cause and fix it. This usually involves diagnostic testing using specialized equipment and repair work. To work on poles, line installers usually use bucket trucks to raise themselves to the top of the structure, although all line workers must be adept at climbing poles and towers when necessary. Workers use special safety equipment to keep them from falling when climbing utility poles and towers.

Storms and other natural disasters can cause extensive damage to power lines. When power is lost, line repairers must work quickly to restore service to customers.

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How To Become A Lineman

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry-level positions, but most line installers and repairers need technical instruction and long-term on-the-job training to become proficient. Apprenticeships are also common.

Education

Most companies require line installers and repairers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer candidates with basic knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. In addition, technical knowledge of electricity or electronics obtained through military service, vocational programs, or community colleges can also be helpful.

Many community colleges offer programs in telecommunications, electronics, or electricity. Some programs work with local companies to offer 1-year certificates that emphasize hands-on field work.

More advanced 2-year associate’s degree programs provide students with a broad knowledge of the technology used in telecommunications and electrical utilities. These programs offer courses in electricity, electronics, fiber optics, and microwave transmission.

Training

Electrical line installers and repairers often must complete apprenticeships or other employer training programs. These programs, which can last up to 3 years, combine on-the-job training with technical instruction and are sometimes administered jointly by the employer and the union representing the workers. For example, the Electrical Training Alliance offers apprenticeship programs in four specialty areas. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • One year of algebra
  • Qualifying score on an aptitude test
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Line installers and repairers who work for telecommunications companies typically receive several years of on-the-job training. They also may be encouraged to attend training from equipment manufacturers, schools, unions, or industry training organizations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, certification for line installers and repairers is also available from several associations. For example, the Electrical Training ALLIANCE offers certification for line installers and repairers in several specialty areas.

In addition, The Fiber Optic Association (FOA) offers two levels of fiber optic certification for telecommunications line installers and repairers.

Workers who drive heavy company vehicles usually need a commercial driver’s license.

Advancement

Entry-level line workers generally begin with an apprenticeship, which includes both classroom training and hands-on work experience. As they learn additional skills from more experienced workers, they may advance to more complex tasks. In time, experienced line workers advance to more sophisticated maintenance and repair positions in which they are responsible for increasingly large portions of the network.

After 3 to 4 years of working, qualified line workers reach the journey level. A journey-level line worker is no longer considered an apprentice and can perform most tasks without supervision. Journey-level line workers also may qualify for positions at other companies. Workers with many years of experience may become first-line supervisors or trainers.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Workers who handle electrical wires and cables must be able to distinguish colors because the wires and cables are often color coded.

Mechanical skills. Line installers and repairers must have the knowledge and skills to repair or replace complex electrical and telecommunications lines and equipment. 

Physical stamina. Line installers and repairers often must climb poles and work at great heights with heavy tools and equipment. Therefore, installers and repairers should be able to work for long periods without tiring easily.

Physical strength. Line installers and repairers must be strong enough to lift heavy tools, cables, and equipment on a regular basis.

Teamwork. Because workers often rely on their fellow crew members for their safety, teamwork is critical.

Technical skills. Line installers use sophisticated diagnostic equipment on circuit breakers, switches, and transformers. They must be familiar with electrical systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Troubleshooting skills. Line installers and repairers must be able to diagnose problems in increasingly complex electrical systems and telecommunication lines.

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Lineman Jobs

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Lineman Demographics

Gender

Male

92.7%

Female

6.0%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

81.8%

Hispanic or Latino

10.6%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.2%

Chinese

6.1%

French

6.1%

Filipino

4.1%

Amharic

4.1%

German

4.1%

Dakota

4.1%

Italian

4.1%

Portuguese

2.0%

Cherokee

2.0%

Japanese

2.0%

Carrier

2.0%
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Lineman Education

Schools

Northwest Lineman College

31.6%

University of Phoenix

7.0%

Texas A&M University

4.8%

Metropolitan Community College

4.3%

Louisiana Tech University

4.3%

Universal Technical Institute

3.7%

Hazard Community and Technical College

3.7%

The Academy

3.7%

Liberty University

3.7%

Mitchell Technical Institute

3.2%

Auburn University

3.2%

New River Community and Technical College

3.2%

Lamar University

3.2%

Salt Lake Community College

3.2%

Bismarck State College

3.2%

Stephen F Austin State University

3.2%

Arkansas State University

2.7%

Lincoln Land Community College

2.7%

Trident Technical College

2.7%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.7%
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Majors

Business

19.9%

Electrical Engineering Technology

15.9%

Criminal Justice

7.3%

Electrical Engineering

6.5%

General Studies

6.4%

Automotive Technology

4.2%

Communication

4.0%

Aviation

3.8%

Precision Metal Working

3.5%

Computer Science

3.4%

Management

3.4%

Education

3.0%

Kinesiology

2.8%

Computer Networking

2.8%

Industrial Technology

2.3%

Liberal Arts

2.3%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.3%

Political Science

2.1%

Psychology

2.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

44.9%

Bachelors

24.5%

Associate

12.7%

Certificate

10.4%

Masters

4.4%

Diploma

2.3%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Top Skills for A Lineman

SafetyPracticesBucketTruckFiberOpticCablesPoleTransfersHighVoltageHeavyEquipmentCDLTelephonePolesCustomerServiceDiggerDerrickLineTruckHandToolsDiggerTruckBoomTruckNewConstructionClimbPolesDistributionLinesOshaUtilityPolesJobSites

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  1. Safety Practices
  2. Bucket Truck
  3. Fiber Optic Cables
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Trained in line worker safety practices including personal grounding, pole top rescue and proper use of equipment and tools.
  • Operate bucket trucks, cranes, digger derricks, wire pullers for removing and replacing conductors.
  • Pole framing and construction of coaxial and fiber optic cables * Underground splicer and activation * Underground inspector of new build construction
  • Exchanged overhead and underground transformers, framed new poles and worked complete pole transfers in emergency situations.
  • Performed elevated work with high voltage lines effectively & safely.

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Top Lineman Employers

Lineman Videos

SEC's Day in the Life of a Lineman

My Life as a Lineman

A Day in The Life Of A Lineman - SEC 2014