Lineman Job Description
The primary role of a Lineman is to install, maintain and repair high-powered electrical lines and systems. A Lineman works on both transmission and distribution lines that originate from a power plant and extend to individual buildings or homes. Those working as a Lineman, sometimes referred to as an electrical Lineman or even groundman, run and repair both overhead and underground electrical cables and wires. Daily responsibilities of a Lineman might include digging trenches to install underground lines, installing meters, climbing poles to repair overhead lines or inspecting power lines for possible repair or replacement.
A Lineman will work mainly for utility companies, energy companies or telecommunications companies. They typically report to managers or supervisors who ensure that electrical lines in a given area are installed and working properly. The most recent information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the projected job growth for Linemen is 6 percent through 2024. The expansion of cities and towns and the accompanying demand for electrical lines to be run to new homes and businesses, as well as the repair and replacement of aging equipment, are among the factors believed to play a part in the growth in job opportunities for those seeking to become a Lineman.
Lineman Duties and Responsibilities
To fulfill the daily tasks of installing and repairing electrical lines, a Lineman must handle several tasks. After analyzing several job listings for this occupation, we have identified the following as important duties and responsibilities associated with being a Lineman.
Install Electrical Cables and Lines
A main duty of a Lineman is to run electrical cables and lines from power sources to homes and businesses. This can require that they climb poles for overhead lines or dig trenches to install underground cables.
Replace or Repair Electrical Lines
A Lineman must be able to troubleshoot problems with electrical lines and find reasons for power outages or other issues. They must have knowledge of splicing wires, replacing cables or performing other types of repairs.
Understand Safety Regulations
It is up to a Lineman to be familiar with and work within safety guidelines established by the company they work for as well as federal regulations, such as those outlined by OSHA. They should have full knowledge of safety equipment, tools and supplies to ensure that they and those working around them are safe at all times.
Strong problem-solving, analytical, troubleshooting and organizational skills are crucial to be successful as a Lineman. A Lineman should be capable of working both independently and in teams, as some large jobs are usually accomplished by working with other Linemen. Knowledge of electrical and building codes is important for a Lineman. In addition, time management skills are useful as a Lineman is at times responsible for restoring lost power to demanding home and business owners. In addition to these crucial skills and abilities, a Lineman should possess the following capabilities:
- Installing various types of power cables and wires.
- Making repairs to damaged power lines.
- Reading and interpreting wiring diagrams.
- Working outdoors in various types of weather.
Lineman Tools of the Trade: A Lineman should have the ability to use various types of tools that allow them to fulfill all of their job responsibilities. As a professional Lineman, you should be capable of using the following:
Hand tools – from crimpers to wire cutters, a Lineman needs to be adept at using tools to measure, cut and splice together power lines.
Climbing gear - climbing poles to access overhead power lines is a common responsibility of a Lineman. Familiarity with straps, gaffs and climbing spikes is required.
Bucket truck – many Linemen use equipment such as boom lifts on bucket trucks to access overhead wires and cables and a Lineman should be knowledgeable in the operation of this equipment.
Lineman Education and Training
A formal degree from a college or university is not typically a requirement to become a Lineman. A one-year certificate in electrical repair or electronics, coupled with an apprenticeship, could be helpful to those seeking to work in this field. On-the-job training programs are the usual path one follows to become a Lineman; this type of training can in some cases take several years. Obtaining an electrical license could be required by some employers.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for a Lineman is $68,010. A Lineman in the lower percentile is paid a median yearly wage of $36,610, while those at the highest end of the pay scale can earn $98,190. The top three states for a Lineman in terms of annual median wage are California ($94,730), Oregon ($89,300) and Alaska ($86,130).
In order to help you gather as much information as possible about this occupation, we have put together the following resources that provide insight into Lineman training, development and more. We have provided links to professional associations, books and blogs exploring various aspects of being a Lineman.
National Association of Journeymen Linemen (NAJL) – Reach out to fellow Linemen and get information about continuing education opportunities by becoming a member of this organization.
Northwest Lineman College Handline Blog – Access this blog to get current industry news such as installation tips, safety information, regulations and technical advice.
Powerlineman Magazine – A quarterly online publication filled with useful articles about safety, advances in equipment and technology, field reports and relevant events, written by professionals in this field.
T&D World – A website providing Linemen with helpful articles about design, operation and maintenance of electric power systems. Recent developments, real-life Lineman stories and links to training seminars are provided at this site.
The Guidebook for Linemen & Cablemen 2nd Edition by Wayne Van Soelen – From electrical system operations to mechanical responsibilities, this book offers a comprehensive look at a career as a Lineman. Safety regulations, recent technologies in the field and distribution systems are among the main topics discussed in this book.
The Lineman’s and Cableman’s Handbook 13th Edition by Thomas M. Shoemaker and James E. Mack – This book offers an extensive look at every facet of working as a Lineman, such as system restoration processes, pulling and splicing cable, applying calculations, voltage regulation and so much more. This most recent edition contains 2017 information about electrical codes and safety regulations.
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