If you prefer physical activity over a desk job, consider a career as a utility line worker.
If you prefer physical activity over a desk job, consider a career as a utility line worker. These professionals work to keep the power on for the millions of people who depend on electricity to keep their homes and businesses running. In this article, we’ll explore what line workers do, the requirements for the job, the training involved, and the demand for this profession.
The primary mission of a line worker is to keep the power on. They install, repair, and replace power system components and utility equipment. This job may require climbing poles, working in trenches, or working remotely from helicopters. Every task requires training and experience to do the job correctly and safely. Workers must learn how to use the specialized tools and equipment necessary to the trade and the correct procedures for performing a job safely and effectively.
A high school diploma or a GED is essential to becoming a line worker. While a college degree is not required, you must possess good math skills, including algebra and geometry. Line work is physically demanding, and you have to be fit – able to climb ladders and poles, work in uncomfortable positions for sometimes hours, and work out in the elements for long periods. You also need specialized PPE (personal protective equipment), weighing up to 40 pounds.
Classroom work is part of the training, as every line worker must understand how the entire power grid works, the equipment they will be working with, and critical safety procedures. Associate degree programs are available, and some apprenticeship programs with utility companies may include classroom instruction. The other aspect of training will require you to go out into the field with crew members to find out what they do and assist them in their work as you learn all the skills you will need in the trade. To work through your apprenticeship program and become a journeyman line worker, you may have to log up to 7,000 hours in the field.
The need for utility line workers is estimated to grow by at least 8% in 2023 alone. The salaries for line workers are respectable, with apprentices earning wages starting in the $35,000 range and experienced journeymen line workers earning north of $80,000. Some line workers willing to travel to other parts of the country responding to events like hurricanes and storms can earn two to three times their hourly rate when responding to a disaster.
Being a line worker is one of the most dangerous occupations. Every year, roughly 2400 out of 100,000 line workers will suffer a serious non-fatal injury, often from an electric shock, a severe burn, or broken bones from falls. 42 out of 100,000 will suffer fatal injuries. Despite the risks involved, for some line workers, this type of work is rewarding, not just financially: this is essential work that makes a real difference in the lives of the people who suffer from disasters like hurricanes and storms.