If you like having friends in high places, becoming a lineman might be the specialty for you. Becoming a lineman is a physical and technical position, allowing you to test your skills by working on high power lines both far above and below ground. There are some requirements to specialize in becoming a lineman, and some requisite skills you’ll need to possess, so read on to find out what it takes.
Technical Skills for Linemen
The technical skills for working as a lineman are similar to that of being a general electrician. You’ll need a solid education in currents, voltage, and resistance – and you’ll need to be able to apply that knowledge to real-world situations.
Additionally, you’ll need ace problem-solving skills and the ability to troubleshoot malfunctioning equipment and lines. And lest you think being a lineman means slacking on your communication skills, you’ll need the ability to communicate with both management and clients directly; that is, you need to know how to tailor the technicality of an explanation to those on your same level of expertise as well as those who know next to nothing about an electrician’s work.
You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, at a bare minimum, in order to become an electrical lineman. While some colleges offer a lineman program that gives you a certificate in your studies, this usually isn’t required for obtaining a job in the field. Further education in the field, including an Associate’s degree in electrical contracting, are also valid ways to go farther in your work.
While educational requirements can vary, most jobs require you to have completed a state or locally registered apprenticeship ranging from two to four years – and consisting of at least 5,000-7,000 hours. An apprenticeship involves on-the-job training under the supervision of a senior lineman. You can sign on for an apprenticeship by going to pre-apprenticeship school and obtaining that certificate, or you can sign on to a crew as a groundman – the person who hands tools to the linemen and does the legwork to ensure their job is successful.
Some employers will ask to see a certification from your doctor that you’re in good enough health to meet the physical demands of the job, and some require candidates to possess a CDL to drive the utility trucks necessary to the profession.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a Lineman
Because lineman work is physically demanding, you may want to consider your health if you’re planning on specializing in this field. Just because you can meet the rigorous demands of the job today doesn’t mean you’ll still be able to 20 years down the road. Have a backup plan for your career for when the wear and tear of age start to take its toll, or what you might do if you succumb to an accident.
That said, you’ll also need to consider whether this is a field you can put your all into – it’s not a solo endeavor, like being a general electrician can sometimes be. You’ll need to devote your time, expertise and skills to a team effort. If that sounds appealing, being a lineman might be the specialty for you.
Are you a lineman? How did you get started?