Are You Lineworker Material?

Photo of a Genevieve Boarman, a lineworker.

If you hate the outdoors, prefer monotonous tasks, despise your community, like to work alone and enjoy working for minimum wage, this isn’t the job for you.

Electric lineworkers are hard to find. It is an incredibly challenging and sometimes dangerous job not everyone is cut out for, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

“There’s a real sense of pride with being a lineman,” says Jeb Knox, Benton REA line superintendent. “Whether they are upgrading a mile or two of line for new growth or putting wire back in the air and getting the lights back on after storm damage, the guys work together as a crew in challenging conditions and at the end of the day—whenever that may be—there’s a real sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction.”

The career path for an electric lineworker is diverse. Someone can start as a groundman and end their career as operations manager, or many roles in between.

No matter your age, anyone who is physically capable can become a lineworker. But, just the opposite of electricity, the path to a career as a lineworker starts from the ground and goes up. 

A Lineworker’s Career Path

Unlike electricity, the path to a career as a lineworker starts on the ground.

Groundman

Education: High school diploma or GED and must carry a commercial drivers license.

  • Drive line truck, keep it clean and stocked.
  • Assist the crew with gathering poles, wire and other materials.
  • Dig and any other tasks that can be done on the ground.

Apprentice/Hot Apprentice

Education: Attend an apprentice lineworker school

  • Climb poles to help with deneergized line (after the third year of school apprentices can work on “hot” power lines)
    Operate the bucket.
  • Respond to outages.

Journeyman

Education: Graduate from an apprentice lineworker school and pass the IBEW journeyman’s test.

  • Work with energized power lines known as “hot work.”
  • Perform all lineworker functions for underground, overhead, transmission and substations.
  • Fill in as a serviceman or foreman, as needed.

Apprentice/Journeyman Meterman

Education: Dual classified as an Electrical Journeyman. Must complete an additional 48 months of meter apprenticeship.

  • Install and replace electric meters, regulators and capacitors.
  • Construction and maintenance of substations.
  • Respond to power outages.

Serviceman

Education: Journeyman certification.

  • First responder to outage calls during normal business hours.
  • Disconnect and reconnect services.
  • Locate underground utilities.
  • Fix yard lights.

Foreman

Education: On-the-job leadership training.

  • Set daily goals and clear direction for a crew of 2 or 3 lineworkers.
  • Manage the employees in your crew.
  • Lead the team with a positive attitude.

Line Superintendent 

Education: On-the-job management and leadership training.

  • Coordinate work order schedules.
  • Manage employee schedules.
  • Work directly with co-op members on new construction or system maintenance projects.

Lineworkers and Metermen at Benton REA:

Enjoy working outdoors, a new challenge everyday, serving the community, teamwork, regular safety and career training, paid apprenticeship education, three-day weekends, paid holidays, competitive wages, excellent benefits, overtime and opportunities for career advancement.

Current Benton REA job openings are posted at BentonREA.org/employment.

 

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