Electrical line workers keep our homes and businesses humming with electricity and restore our power after storms or disasters. Knowledge of electricity, technical skills and physical stamina are some of the traits you'll need to work in this field. Read on to discover if electric power transmission installation is the right career for you.
Electrical power transmission workers install, fix and maintain the systems that carry electricity from power plants to homes and commercial buildings. Electrical power transmission installers, commonly called linemen or electrical line workers, need technical knowledge of these systems and of the electrical transmission lines that supply the power. Your duties may include stringing the electrical lines between poles or buildings, testing lines and equipment and replacing them when faulty. You'll need to follow safety protocols and know how to use power equipment.
You might work with a team that travels long distances to maintain the regional power grid. You could work for a local utility company maintaining less powerful distribution lines and equipment, traffic signals and street lamps. Most electrical line workers are employed by the electric power industry, utilities and local governments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were roughly 108,400 electric power transmission installers and repairers working in the United States in 2010 (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities for line installers and repairers were expected to increase 13% between 2010 and 2020, the BLS said. Most electric power line installers and repairers earned between $34,580 and $85,340 in 2011, the BLS reported.
You'll need to be unafraid of heights in this job because to reach some equipment you'll have to climb poles and electrical towers or ascend in a bucket attached to a truck. This job sometimes requires working on short notice in adverse weather for lengthy periods fixing power outages caused by storms, disasters or accidents. According to the BLS, the job of an electrical power line worker is hazardous due to the dangers of working with high-voltage electricity. Additionally, physical endurance is necessary.
You'll typically need a high school diploma or GED to get hired for an entry-level job as an electric power transmission installer. You can expect on-the-job training lasting as many as five years once you're hired. Many line workers gain the necessary skills and instruction through apprenticeship programs under the auspices of their employer and a labor union. Comprehension of algebra and trigonometry, electrical knowledge and superior reading abilities might boost your chances of getting hired.
You could earn an associate's degree or certificate by completing an electric power transmission installation program at a community college or technical school. Upon graduating, you may qualify for jobs including line worker, inspector, cable splicer, power substation maintenance technician and meter tester.
Associate's degree and certificate programs aim to teach you how to install the electrical systems that provide power for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. You might study electricity fundamentals, national safety regulations and equipment use. You could learn how to interpret blueprints and schematic diagrams, install transformers and regulate volts. Some programs provide hands-on experience installing equipment and erecting poles at outdoor facilities. Some learning programs will require you to take math and physics classes.