How to Become a Lineman?

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You have read that electrical power linemen make a good living, are in demand and do not need to have a college degree and now you want to know how you can become a lineman. There are a couple of different paths one can choose to travel down in a bid to enter this profession. Below is our “How to Become a Lineman” step-by-step guide:

First and foremost, you need to graduate from high school and exhibited a proficiency in your math courses (including algebra and trigonometry). If you are fortunate enough to have been exposed to studies in electricity and basic electrical systems this information will give you a leg up on the competition.

Upon graduation you have a few different options. The first option is to seek out an entry level training position with a local utility in your region. After being hired by the utility company, you will begin working as a “grunt” or a “groundsman”. A “grunt” is as it sounds. He is responsible for doing all the menial tasks that include worksite setup and breakdown. Attempting to find employment through a utility can be a hit or miss proposition as some companies find it costly to invest their resources in training employees in-house. Also, many utilities may not be looking to hire or have any spots in their training program. Thus, you will need to turn to another option.

Some eager individuals have been known to solicit contractors in the region eager to work for low wages in exchange for on-the-job apprenticeship training. Depending on the size of the company, you may be exposed to a diverse array of learning opportunities on the job speeding up your career development. Conversely, if the company specializes in a niche service area you may be limited to a one-dimensional apprenticeship that could stunt or delay your growth and career development.

It is widely accepted that the preferred and best way to enter the linemen trade is to apply for an apprenticeship through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC). The NJATC is a non-profit organization created in 1941 by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). The primary goal of this partnership was to create the best trained and highly skilled electrical workers through the development and standardization of an electrical curriculum and training program.

One of the hallmarks of the NJATC apprenticeship is its “earn while you learn” blend of training, classroom style education and paid employment. An apprenticeship, whether through the NJATC or another entity, generally lasts three and half to four years whereupon the apprentice then becomes a lineman.

The NJATC has more than 200 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATC) though out the nation. Each of them trains apprentices with the curriculum developed by the NJATC. Besides finding contact information for a JATC in your area through the NJATC website you may also contact your local chapter of the IBEW. Each local has a process for enrolling applicants or candidates seeking to become apprentices in various electrical professions. Depending on how competitive positions are for linemen at the IBEW local, applicants may also need to being working as grunts or groundsmen.

Many individuals frustrated by the lack of training and apprenticeship opportunities with their local utility or union local enroll in a school for linemen. These schools are often called line colleges. There are several lineman schools throughout the nation with a varying types of curriculum and structure, cost and duration. Some power companies have joint ventures with local junior colleges while others are stand-alone for-profit ventures run by individuals with industry experience.

In addition to education and training, linemen will also need to acquire a commercial driver’s license so that they can operate the bucket truck in the course of their daily activities.

For more information about becoming a lineman, please visit the Lineman Career Portal of Ditch College.

If you would like to read about other jobs that do not require a four year degree, please visit our career portal.

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