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Old 01-25-2015, 02:41 PM   #1
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Hello all,

I'm currently in the U.S ARMY and getting out in 6 months. There's a program here in Washington called V.IC.E (veterans in construction electrical) it's a five year apprenticeship as a wireman and I can stay in Tacoma, WA. Starts at 18hr and raises about every 6 months. Sounds great, however I'm also interested in becoming a lineman. There's a school (Avista) in Spokane, WA that is four months long BUT does not guarantee an apprenticeship. Wages for lineman in Tacoma, WA are 31hr as apprentice. Looking online I did not see many jobs as a lineman in WA currently.

-Both jobs make around the same once journeymen license is obtained.

Right now lineman sounds fun and think I would be a good fit coming out of military. However, inside wireman seems more reliable. Basically I'm hoping someone in either trade can give insight.

My goal is to get an apprenticeship in either trade, stay in WA for time being, and one day move to CO to start family. Which job do you think is more reliable and secure with steady work with little travel required so I can home every night, as well as move if I decide I want to after acquiring journey license. Thanks for help -looking for answers for members of either trade
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Old 01-25-2015, 02:43 PM   #2
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Lineman are just laborers that assemble electrical parts in the air and work with heavy machinery all day long. Electricians, on the other hand, are the cream of the crop for skilled workers at the top of the tradework food chain.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:01 PM   #3
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First off Jarrett, welcome to the nuthouse here. You'll find a lot of good info and quite a few characters on this site.

As to your questions, I can offer up this as a former Air Force Vet, who is about to turn 52 this week:

When it comes to your civilian career, follow your heart and gut instincts as to what you really want to do.

The lineman job does pay more money, (but your inside job tops out at about the same) so as far as the money end of it goes, it's a wash. Either one would be a good choice as far as money is concerned.

Lineman tend to pretty much keep their job once they are hired on (unless they are incompetent or dangerous) and seem to have more stability in continuing to work despite economic swings. The downside is having to work in some very bad conditions (weather, equipment faults, etc.) Also, the hours are unpredictable (you are basically on-call 24/7) and long-distance travel is always a possibility.

Inside wireman tend to go from job to job and can be laid off rather quickly when the economy tanks. Of course the working conditions in most cases are better than lineman. There is also more variety in the things a "narrowback" (as linemen refer to electricians) does in the course of their job. Also, you will have less travel and possibly more consistent hours so you can be with your family.

Those are the pluses and minuses I am aware of for both sides...but back to my opening remark, I will add do not make the same mistake I did...I was chasing the big bucks (which didn't last and I hated my employer) rather than following my passion. That is something only YOU, yourself, can answer honestly.

Best of luck to you in whatever choice you make!
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:19 PM   #4
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Mxslick,

Thank you for advice. I'm considering wireman at the moment and thinking that is the best option for me wants/needs in life. Appreciate the help
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:49 PM   #5
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I frankly would not worry about career choices based on what occupation is hiring at any one moment in this type of work!

We will always be needed!

Your forgetting that if your go to either school most will be watched by potential employers, have job fairs, and most
schools have placement assistance for their graduates!

A vocation is just that, which ever avenue you choose will be just that!
Not unlike any other choice you've made in your life, in the the end it will be just that!

On average electrical work as a whole is has been for years with-in the top five most dangerous occupations! The most dangerous part of lineman work of the first six months in that vocation!
It's with-in any search engine and well documented, I'd suggest you take a long look at both!

Welcome to the Forum, and Thank You for your service!
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Last edited by CADPoint; 01-25-2015 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 01-25-2015, 04:05 PM   #6
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Do the inside wireman gig ,then go to work for the federal government as a maintenance electrician.
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Old 01-25-2015, 04:06 PM   #7
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Contact the local IBEW in your area and talk to the B.A. Unions don't advertise for help. And also the power company and tell them your desire to be a lineman.
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Old 01-25-2015, 04:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTW View Post
Lineman are just laborers that assemble electrical parts in the air and work with heavy machinery all day long. Electricians, on the other hand, are the cream of the crop for skilled workers at the top of the tradework food chain.
Maybe true, but at least from what I've seen, line guys make better money than us and have better job security.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:22 PM   #9
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Inside wireman, unless you like getting woke up at 2:00am to go to work outside during an ice storm.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:31 PM   #10
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One of my fellow crew members was surplused from the TELCO and got hired on at the Power Company. His lineman training included climbing 80 feet up a pole in his hooks.

I've climbed 30 feet in my hooks...80 feet NO WAY!
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Old 01-25-2015, 08:15 PM   #11
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With SNOW-ZILA heading to the north east most electricians will be staying home drinking hot chocolate, most linemen will be outside in a bucket truck fixing a transformer 30' in the air or in mud up to their ass splicing a underground feeder.

At age 40 a business man looks like he is 40, an electrician looks like he is 42 a lineman looks and feels like he is 65.

Brains over brawn become an electrician.
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Old 01-26-2015, 12:11 AM   #12
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Check out Tacoma power, and seattle city light, especially if you're a veteran!
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Old 01-26-2015, 12:14 AM   #13
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During the storm, Most lineman, cable splicers, and substation techs will be making double time and laughing all the way to the bank, while us inside guys have a few unpaid days off...
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Old 01-26-2015, 01:58 PM   #14
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I know a couple guys that are retired from the power company. They both are set financially for the rest of their lives.
One guy started as a apprentice and ended up in management. He had a great job and great benefits. Advancement is what I mean.

I almost went to work for Florida Power & Light many years ago. Another giant mistake in what I call my life.

Read some posts on this forum. Many guys will never see retirement or say they will never see it. Many sarcastically ask "whats a vacation"
Don't be one of these guys. You are young now. Think about your life in 20 years.
Then make a decision that will not only benefit you now, but benefit you later in life.
Good luck and thanks for your service.
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I know a couple guys that are retired from the power company. They bot
Read some posts on this forum. Many guys will never see retirement or say they will never see it. Many sarcastically ask "whats a vacation"
Don't be one of these guys. You are young now. Think about your life in 20 years.
Then make a decision that will not only benefit you now, but benefit you later in life.
Good luck and thanks for your service.
In that case stay in the military.

My dad played the military gamble retired as a Command Sargent Major at 56 after 33 years and lived to the age of 91 drawing retirement for 35 years, good bet on his part.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:09 PM   #16
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Have you thought about going substation for the poco? That's what I do and it's more like an electrician than lineman but usually the same or better pay. A lot more fun stuff too. Lineman are just aerial fencers really. Substation takes some intelligence and thinking. We also get the great overtime but most of the time we're in a truck running down lines or inside a climate controlled switch house doing switching. Biggest drawback is in line work if you screw up you might lose some appendages... inside the station you're pretty much toast.
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Old 01-28-2015, 07:15 AM   #17
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Have you thought about going substation for the poco? That's what I do and it's more like an electrician than lineman but usually the same or better pay. A lot more fun stuff too. Lineman are just aerial fencers really. Substation takes some intelligence and thinking. We also get the great overtime but most of the time we're in a truck running down lines or inside a climate controlled switch house doing switching. Biggest drawback is in line work if you screw up you might lose some appendages... inside the station you're pretty much toast.
Yep! some of the smarter men I have worked with over the years came out of the Utility Substation group.
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:55 AM   #18
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Yep! some of the smarter men I have worked with over the years came out of the Utility Substation group.
You know what they say... 'even linemen need heroes' haha
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:57 PM   #19
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Lineman are just laborers that assemble electrical parts in the air and work with heavy machinery all day long. Electricians, on the other hand, are the cream of the crop for skilled workers at the top of the tradework food chain.

Never thought of it that way, lol. Lineman get paid a LOT compared to electricians, even though it seems like you need to know a bit more as an electrician.

Not trying to dunce over anyone's occupation here, just an observation.
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:23 PM   #20
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Never thought of it that way, lol. Lineman get paid a LOT compared to electricians, even though it seems like you need to know a bit more as an electrician. Not trying to dunce over anyone's occupation here, just an observation.
Not around here. We are pretty much equal as far as our pay scale. Maybe you are comparing non union wages (even residential) to lineman scale. In that case, you are probably correct.
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