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What Does A Locator Do?

A locator or utility locator is a professional who is responsible for locating, identifying, and marking underground utilities before the start of construction or other projects in an area. Locators are required to read maps and blueprints to determine where utilities are located and protect those underground utilities from damage during excavation. They must be able to operate small or medium-sized vehicles and direct traffic away from the worksite.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real locator resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Perform stand-by, meet, emergency and on-call locates.
  • Respond to emergency calls professionally and quickly during hours and while on-call.
  • cable pairs to remove bridge taps in SAIs for DSL.
  • Limit use & knowledge of GPR technology.
  • Create splices from secondary voltage up to 24 KV.
  • Install and repair phone and DSL service to residential and businesses.
  • Drive to different locations to locate pipe lines underground using GPS coordinates/map.
  • Locate underground utilities: telephone, electric, cable TV, and fiber optic.
  • Locate buried underground utilities for customers under contract with USIC to protect and maintain facilities.
  • Used OTDR and TDR to measure light loss to ensure that splicing locations meets requirements.
Locator Traits
Customer-service skills
Customer-service skills involve listening skills that allow you to communicate efficiently and respectfully with a customer.
Dexterity describes being skilled in using your hands when it comes to physical activity.
Troubleshooting skills involves a systematic approach to solving a problem or challenge.

Locator Overview

Between the years 2018 and 2028, locator jobs are expected to undergo a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if the thought "should I become a locator?" Has crossed your mind, maybe you should take the growth rate into account. In addition, the number of locator opportunities that are projected to become available by 2028 is 10,700.

A locator annual salary averages $34,646, which breaks down to $16.66 an hour. However, locators can earn anywhere from upwards of $22,000 to $53,000 a year. This means that the top-earning locators make $29,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

It's hard work to become a locator, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a cable splicing technician, cable splicer apprentice, fiber optic technician, and construction lineman.

Locator Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 14% of Locators are proficient in Weather Conditions, Company Vehicle, and Paperwork. They’re also known for soft skills such as Customer-service skills, Dexterity, and Troubleshooting skills.

We break down the percentage of Locators that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Weather Conditions, 14%

    Walk long distance while carrying heavy equipment through various terrains and weather conditions.

  • Company Vehicle, 14%

    Worked independently from home driving a company vehicle and assigned to a specific geographical area.

  • Paperwork, 11%

    Completed appropriate company paperwork concerning locate destination and total time of locate.

  • TV, 9%

    Marked underground utilities throughout the Charlotte area to include power, telephone, cable TV, and gas.

  • Sewer Lines, 6%

    Located and marked sewer lines and identified potential installation problems.

  • Accurate Documentation, 5%

    Provided accurate documentation and or sketches related to all locates completed.

Some of the skills we found on locator resumes included "weather conditions," "company vehicle," and "paperwork." We have detailed the most important locator responsibilities below.

  • Troubleshooting skills is also an important skill for locators to have. This example of how locators use this skill comes from a locator resume, "line installers and repairers must diagnose problems in increasingly complex electrical systems and telecommunication lines." Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "conducted troubleshooting activities on aerial and underground copper and fiber optic cables. "
  • A locator responsibilities sometimes require "color vision." The responsibilities that rely on this skills are shown by this resume excerpt: "workers who handle electrical wires and cables must distinguish colors because the wires and cables are often color coded." This resume example shows how this skill is used by locators: "string and repair telephone and television cable, including fiber optics and other equipment for transmitting messages or television programming. "
  • Yet another important skill that a locator must demonstrate is "mechanical skills." Line installers and repairers must have the knowledge and skills to repair or replace complex electrical and telecommunications lines and equipment. This is clearly demonstrated in this example from a locator who stated: "operated and maintains mechanical and electronic equipment. "
  • Another skill commonly found on locator resumes is "physical strength." This description of the skill was found on several locator resumes: "line installers and repairers must be strong enough to lift heavy tools, cables, and equipment on a regular basis." Here's an example from a resume of how this skill could fit into the day-to-day locator responsibilities: "level iii locator identified underground utilities using geophysical equipment. "
  • See the full list of locator skills.

    After discovering the most helpful skills, we moved onto what kind of education might be helpful in becoming a locator. We found that 14.8% of locators have graduated with a bachelor's degree and 1.7% of people in this position have earned their master's degrees. While some locators have a college degree, you may find it's also true that generally it's possible to be successful in this career with only a high school degree. In fact, our research shows that one out of every two locators were not college graduates.

    Those locators who do attend college, typically earn either a business degree or a criminal justice degree. Less commonly earned degrees for locators include a general studies degree or a computer science degree.

    Once you've obtained the level of education you're comfortable with, you might start applying to companies to become a locator. We've found that most locator resumes include experience from USIC, Ledcor Group of Companies, and UtiliQuest. Of recent, USIC had 666 positions open for locators. Meanwhile, there are 95 job openings at Ledcor Group of Companies and 69 at UtiliQuest.

    But if you're interested in companies where you might earn a high salary, locators tend to earn the biggest salaries at Black Hills, Shelter House Inc.'s, and Xcel Energy. Take Black Hills for example. The median locator salary is $52,305. At Shelter House Inc.'s, locators earn an average of $37,825, while the average at Xcel Energy is $36,661. You should take into consideration how difficult it might be to secure a job with one of these companies.

    View more details on locator salaries across the United States.

    We also looked into companies who hire locators from the top 100 educational institutions in the U.S. The top three companies that hire the most from these institutions include USIC, UtiliQuest, and Verizon Communications.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious locators are:

      What Cable Splicing Technicians Do

      In this section, we compare the average locator annual salary with that of a cable splicing technician. Typically, cable splicing technicians earn a $11,972 higher salary than locators earn annually.

      While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both locators and cable splicing technicians positions are skilled in weather conditions, company vehicle, and electronic equipment.

      There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a locator responsibilities require skills like "paperwork," "tv," "sewer lines," and "hard-working." Meanwhile a typical cable splicing technician has skills in areas such as "job tasks," "dot," "engineering plans," and "test equipment." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

      On average, cable splicing technicians reach similar levels of education than locators. Cable splicing technicians are 1.6% less likely to earn a Master's Degree and 0.3% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Cable Splicer Apprentice?

      Now we're going to look at the cable splicer apprentice profession. On average, cable splicer apprentices earn a $21,256 higher salary than locators a year.

      While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both locators and cable splicer apprentices are known to have skills such as "fiber optic," "construction sites," and "construction projects. "

      While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that locator responsibilities requires skills like "weather conditions," "company vehicle," "paperwork," and "tv." But a cable splicer apprentice might use skills, such as, "electrical systems," "kv," "distribution systems," and "local area."

      On the topic of education, cable splicer apprentices earn similar levels of education than locators. In general, they're 1.9% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.3% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Fiber Optic Technician Compares

      A fiber optic technician is someone who works with the optical cables and fibers used in communications data transmission. Fiber optic technicians fuse fibers together, install fiber cables, and splice fibers in buildings and beneath the ground. They take responsibility for fiber optic network installation and maintenance in schools, homes, businesses, and any other organizations. They identify the solutions to issues or problems to prevent fiber optic systems from their optimal performance.

      The third profession we take a look at is fiber optic technician. On an average scale, these workers bring in higher salaries than locators. In fact, they make a $1,386 higher salary per year.

      Using locators and fiber optic technicians resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "company vehicle," "job sites," and "emergency," but the other skills required are very different.

      As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from locators resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "weather conditions," "paperwork," "tv," and "sewer lines." But a fiber optic technician might have skills like "test equipment," "otdr," "rf," and "internet."

      Fiber optic technicians typically study at similar levels compared with locators. For example, they're 0.9% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.3% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Construction Lineman

      The fourth career we look at typically earns higher pay than locators. On average, construction linemen earn a difference of $42,943 higher per year.

      While both locators and construction linemen complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like tv, job sites, and telephone lines, the two careers also vary in other skills.

      Each job requires different skills like "weather conditions," "company vehicle," "paperwork," and "sewer lines," which might show up on a locator resume. Whereas construction lineman might include skills like "cdl," "new lines," "heavy machinery," and "safety barriers."

      In general, construction linemen reach similar levels of education when compared to locators resumes. Construction linemen are 3.3% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.3% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.