Electrical linemen--also called journeymen or electrical line workers--maintain safety for both electrical crews and the general public, according to DegreeDirectory.org. They install and take care of the main power grid--the network of lines that provide electricity to customers through generating plants, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Linemen usually are on call 24 hours a day to respond to electrical emergencies. Electrical lineman training programs give students the technical skills they need to do their jobs effectively and safely.
Electrical linemen are responsible for installing and maintaining high- and low-voltage distribution lines as well as distribution and transmission systems. These lines can run from less than 10,000 volts to hundreds of thousands of volts. These professionals also repair and remove this equipment. Electrical lineman training programs teach students how to perform these duties. Students must be physically fit and also should not be afraid of heights because they often work in bucket trucks. These sometimes underground workers additionally should be comfortable with working in tight spaces.
Electrical lineman training usually comes in the form of an apprenticeship program that lasts about four to five years. This type of program gives students hands-on training with the physical, safety, mechanical and ethical requirements of electrical line work. Internship training can last about 8,000 hours, according to South Florida Community College. Lineman training programs typically also provide students with about 640 hours of paid formal classroom training. The programs usually are sponsored by an employer and the union representing the workers. Following completion of an apprenticeship program, line workers usually are called journeymen line workers and require no supervision to do a majority of their tasks. To get into an electrical lineman program, students usually must have a high school diploma or GED and be 18 years old. Some community colleges also offer certificate or associate degree programs that teach about electronics, electricity and electrical utilities technology.
Classes in an electrical lineman training program usually cover topics such as electrical systems, safety fundamentals, transmission and distribution competencies, algebra and applied math and electrical line work fundamentals. Other course topics include basic electricity codes, National Electric Code, National Electric Safety Code, alternating current, measuring electric output, underground and overhead specifications, personal protective equipment and first aid, according to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Students also study pole climbing, pole-top rescue and bucket trucks, transformer banking, system protection/operation and rigging.
With an education in electrical line work, professionals can choose to work for local utilities or work to install and maintain multi-state power grids. Power grid workers are responsible for maintaining transmission lines and towers in large regions. Local utilities linemen maintain transformers, switches and voltage regulators and might even work on traffic lights.
Employment of electrical power-line installers and repairers is projected to grow by about 4 percent between 2008 and 2018. Median annual wages for electrical power-line workers in May 2008 were $55,100.