What Does an Electrical Line Worker Do?

Electrical line workers hold one of the most common and essential positions in the electricity industry because they maintain safety for the public and for electrical crews. Electrical line workers install, remove, maintain, and repair high-voltage and low-voltage distribution lines and associated equipment and facilities. Read on to explore this job in greater detail. Schools offering Electrical Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Electrical line workers are in many ways the backbone of the electricity industry. Also called electrical linemen, they are typically on 24-hour call for quick response to power outages and other emergencies. Electrical linemen must effectively execute many tasks in order to help deliver electrical power from generating stations into homes, businesses, factories, and other facilities.

Important Facts About Electrical Line Workers

Job Outlook 8% growth expected from 2016 to 2026 (line installers and repairers)*
Average Salary (2018) $70,240 (electrical power line installers and repairers)*
On-the-Job Training Available through IBEW-NECA Electrical Training Alliance or from employers
Key Skills Critical thinking, manual dexterity, good judgment and decision making, time management, clear verbal communication, coordination, problem-solving ability
Similar Occupations Electricians, telecommunications dispatchers and installers, electrical and electronics engineers, power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Besides working in a range of weather conditions, electrical line workers have a physically demanding job that requires lifting, climbing poles, trenching for the installation of underground cable, or working in overhead buckets up to 200 feet off the ground. The average wage for electrical power line installers and repairers in May 2018 was $33.77 per hour or $70,240 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Below is a more detailed listing of the tasks that electrical line workers must perform:

  • Installing and repairing poles, cables, and electrical equipment related to overhead distribution and transmission systems
  • Installing, repairing, and maintaining underground cable and electrical equipment
  • Working to ensure public safety and electrical crew safety through personal protection equipment and by practicing emergency procedures and training
  • Operating a variety of hydraulic equipment, including digger derricks, backhoe trenchers, and bucket trucks
  • Using hand tools such as chainsaws, drills, shovels, and compression tools
  • Completing electronic and paper reports and records

Education and Training

Electrical line workers must hold a high school diploma or GED. They should possess basic reading skills, an aptitude for math, and the ability to work in a team environment. Most electrical line workers complete an apprenticeship program that typically runs four to five years. They also receive approximately 640 hours of paid classroom training. Generally, the apprenticeship program provides a comprehensive study of the physical, mechanical, safety, and ethical requirements of the electrical industry. Students learn about communication and problem-solving skills, the fundamentals of electricity and electrical components, equipment operation, and safety standards. Below are some of the topics apprentices can expect to cover in the field and the classroom:

  • Electrical systems
  • Distribution competencies
  • Transmission competencies
  • Safety fundamentals
  • Electrical linework fundamentals
  • Applied mathematics and algebra

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