3 minute read


Education and Training: High school diploma
Average Salary: $55,860
Job Outlook: Good

Linemen work on the huge networks of wires and cables that provide consumers with electrical power and voice, video, and data communications services. They maintain the networks of power lines that go from electrical generators to the consumer and install and repair the lines and cables which provide services like cable television, telephone service, and the Internet to residential and commercial customers. The job of the lineman comprises of the erection of poles and towers, the stringing of overhead lines, the installation of underground systems, the installation and connection of sub-stations, and all the types of maintenance and repair involved. For installing and repairing different lines and cables, linemen use various construction equipments like trenchers, digger derricks, cable plows, and borers.
Physical fitness is must for this job as the linemen perform most of their work on utility poles above ground and they have to maintain their balance while working there. Linemen normally have to lift equipment and may have to work in bad weather conditions. In case of bad weather or natural disasters when extensive damage is caused to networks of lines, lineman must react quickly to these crisis to re-establish critical utility and communications services. This can often involve working outdoors in adverse weather conditions.

Education and Training

To be a Lineman, a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement. Along with this, completing a two-year program in telecommunications or electronics is very helpful. Many communities or technical colleges offer training programs in telecommunications, electronics, or electricity, which are usually operated with the assistance from local employers and unions. Several programs from local companies offer 1-year certificates which give emphasis to practical field work. Some superior 2-year associate degree programs provide students with detailed knowledge of the technology, which is used in telecommunications and electrical utilities. They provide courses in electricity, electronics, fiber optics, and microwave transmission. The Linemen receive most of their training on the job. Along with the training, they should have the fundamental knowledge of algebra and trigonometry and good reading and writing skills. Linemen should also have knowledge of computers and new technology.

Getting the Job

It is important to be physically fit when applying for the job of Lineman. They must be capable of lifting heavy objects, climbing, and should have stamina, strength, and coordination and have no fears of height. They need to keep check on their emotions, avoid aggressive behavior even in very difficult situations, deal calmly with high stress situations, and be willing to take on responsibilities and challenges.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of linemen is projected to grow more slowly than average. However retirements are expected to create very good job opportunities for new workers, especially for electrical linemen. Entry-level linemen are usually hired as helpers, or tree trimmers, who help in clearing the branches from telephone and power lines. With experience, they may advance to positions stringing cable and performing service installations. With perfection and experience, they may advance to more sophisticated maintenance and repair positions. If they have a college degree, they can even get promoted to supervisory positions.

Working Conditions and Environment

Basically all of the work of the lineman is performed out of doors and they are exposed to all the types of weather conditions. They are normally expected to travel and live away from home for some time. This occupation requires a high physical strength, stamina and patience as there are primary risks of falling, exposure to electrical burns, and injury involved with this job. In case of bad weather or natural disasters, a lineman has to work outdoors in adverse weather conditions in order to re-establish critical utility and communications services.

Salary and Benefits

The salary of a lineman is higher than in most other occupations that do not require postsecondary education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2009 the average salary of the lineman was $55,860. In May 2009, the electric power linemen earned an average salary of $59,100. The natural gas distribution industry paid the highest average annual salary of about $78,770. California, Oregon, Alaska New York, and Hawaii are top paying states for linemen.

Where to Go for More Information

American Public Power Association
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Ste. 1200
Washington, DC 20009-5715
(202) 467-2900
(800) 515-2772

The Fiber Optic Association
1119 S Mission Rd., Ste. 355
Fallbrook, California 92028 USA
(760) 451-3655

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, CLC
900 Seventh St., NW
Washington DC, 20001
(202) 833-7000

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConstruction & Skilled Trades