What Does an Electrical Lineman Do?
Do you get a thrill out of living on the edge? If you do, and don’t mind heights, this is a job worth exploring. Electrical linemen install, maintain and repair electric power lines and other equipment associated with electrical distribution and transmission systems.
Electrical linemen — also called linemen, lineworkers, line installers and repairers, and power line technicians — regularly work at height and deal with high-voltage electricity, so the job is considered dangerous. Much of the work is done outdoors, in all weather conditions. Transmission lineman bring power to the pole, and they are the ones who climb 100 feet off the ground. Distribution lineman, who bring the power from the pole to the customer, usually only climb around 50 feet off the ground.
Working on evenings, nights, weekends and holidays is often necessary during emergencies.
A related job is telecommunications line installer and repairer, which involves installing and repairing telecommunications cables, such as fiber optic cables for internet and cable TV. These workers typically earn less than electrical linemen.
- Install equipment ranging from utility poles to power lines to crossarms, insulators, switches and switchgear
- Test equipment, including conductors, switches, voltage regulators and transformers
- Climb poles and transmission towers and use truck-mounted buckets to reach power lines and other equipment
- Dig holes and set (erect) poles using construction equipment
- Drive work vehicles to job sites
Becoming an electrical lineman typically takes several years and requires technical instruction, often at a community college or technical school, plus on-the-job training. An apprenticeship may provide both classroom instruction and on-the-job training.
Some community colleges offer related two-year associate degree programs; degree titles vary. One-year certificate programs in electricity and related topics are also available through schools or companies. Certain work may require a safety certification. Most employers require a basic knowledge of algebra and trigonometry.
- Are physically fit and agile
- Have good balance and no fear of heights
- Pay close attention to detail
- Like to work outdoors