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What Does It Take to Be an Electrical Lineman?

April 19th, 2018

The Top Five Skills You’ll Need to Succeed

April 18 was National Lineman Appreciation Day, a chance for everyone to offer thanks and appreciation to the brave men and women who work as electrical lineworkers.

We don’t often think about just how important the work of electrical linemen is for everyday life. It’s because of their knowledge, skills, dedication, and competency that the rest of us are able to live our lives the way we are—making sure there’s power for everything, from air conditioning and heat in our homes to charging our smartphones.

So, in honor of 2018 National Lineman Appreciation Day, we’d like to take a closer look at the profession, just in case you’re interested in making it your career. Here the top five skills it takes to succeed as an electrical lineworker:

Appreciation for Hands-On Learning

It takes a lot of learning and education to start your career as an electrical lineman. But most of that learning won’t happen in a classroom. The process for becoming an electrical lineman involves starting out as a hired apprentice, where you’ll work for four years on your way to becoming a journeyman.

As an apprentice, you’ll spend most of your time out in the field working with various crews, learning the necessary skills, and experiencing how professional linemen take care of business. Areas of knowledge and training include:

  • Mathematics and measurements
  • Work safety
  • Electrical principles
  • Power distribution, transmission, and systems
  • Rigging

Physically and Mentally Strong

Being an electrical lineworker isn’t for the weak. Literally. It takes not only a lot of physical strength, but also a mentally strong individual who is able to think through complicated issues and solve tough problems.

On most days, you’ll find yourself pulling heavy cable and wiring, and hauling a lot of gear to and from work sites. Days can be very long, and linemen are often required to be on call to work all hours of the night. And depending on what part of the country you’re working in, there might be extensive outdoor work in cold weather.

All of this means that being an electrical lineworker requires the strength to fulfill the physically demanding aspects of the job, as well as the mental strength it takes to work through tough problems and come through when others are counting on it.

Courage and Climbing Ability

This one is obvious, but no less important to single out—as an electrical lineman, you’ll be spending much of your time at the top of poles that can reach heights of 100 feet.

Clearly, to pursue this as a profession, you must be comfortable working at such heights. Additionally, you’ll be working at some significant heights while also outfitted with much heavy gear and equipment, which can include:

  • Equipment belt
  • Climbers
  • Ditty bag
  • Pulley block
  • Tool pouch
  • Hand line

Fully geared up, this can add upwards of 50-60 pounds that you’ll be taking with you to the top of the pole. Of course, worker safety is the top priority for every electrical lineworker, so you’ll spend a lot of time learning the proper techniques to ensure safety at the top of the pole.

Knowledge of Safety Procedures and Equipment

There’s nothing more important to an electrical lineworker than safety. There are a number of ways that workers can get injured on the job or worse, so it’s essential to understand what those risks are and how to avoid them.

  • Always being aware of your surroundings is critical so that you’ll be 100% sure that your movements and how you’re using your tools will be safe.
  • Wearing the right safety equipment is crucial, so that even if something does go wrong, your helmet, insulated gloves, steel-toed boots, and other clothing will add protection.
  • Lineworkers should always work as part of a team, making sure that everyone is aware of what the other team members are doing and can provide assistance when necessary.
  • Get to know your tools. You shouldn’t ever try using a tool that you’re unfamiliar with, because if you don’t fully understand how the tool works, that means you also don’t know the consequences that can happen when it’s not used properly.

Dedication and Pride in Your Work

The work of electrical linemen touches virtually everyone. We all need power we can rely on, whether at home or at work. So it’s important that electrical lineworkers are dedicated to the job they’re doing and take pride in the fact that they play such an important role in the lives of people everywhere.

So there you have it. If you’re thinking about a career as an electrical lineworker, these are some of the most important characteristics it will take to succeed.

And remember, if you know an electrical lineman, make sure you express your thanks to them on April 18, National Lineman Appreciation Day.


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