What Does an Electrical Lineman Do?

An electrical lineman is an electrician who works outside, installing and maintaining equipment and facilities for electrical power transmission and distribution. Installation and repair of overhead or underground power lines, as well as installation, maintenance, and repair of other electrical subsystems and components, are among the duties of an electrical power lineman. Advanced linemen may also be involved in electrical system design and layout. Other electricians are not considered electrical linemen, such as those who work on indoor electrical systems or low voltage equipment for communications systems.

An electrical lineman’s career typically spans several years of work, as well as continuing education and, in some cases, professional testing. A candidate will typically spend several weeks in pre-apprenticeship training before beginning work. Following successful completion of such training, the candidate becomes an apprentice who works under the supervision of a more experienced lineman for several years. After completing the apprentice phase, the electrical lineman becomes a journeyman, with the exception of electrical system design, who can supervise apprentices and perform most electrical tasks unsupervised. A journeyman may progress to the master phase, where he or she will be able to perform all electrical tasks independently, including design and layout of electrical systems. Both journeymen and apprentices are supervised the master lineman.

Electrical lineman training is extensive and ongoing, but it begins in lineman school. Electrical lineman pre-apprenticeship training includes subjects like mathematics for electrical calculations, electrical principles and circuit analysis, power system components operation, and more. Climbing power poles, using lineman’s tools, reading voltages, troubleshooting, installing and repairing power lines and other hardware, and bucket truck operations are all part of the simulated and on-the-job training. Because of the hazardous nature of lineman work, linemen typically receive extensive training in fire and electrical safety, as well as fall protection training for safe work on overhead power lines.

For linemen who work on high-voltage electrical systems that are often high above the ground, safety is a major concern. Harnesses and belts that catch the climber in the event of a fall, as well as lift buckets that elevate the lineman to avoid climbing risks, may be used as fall protection for those working overhead on poles or steel structures. Insulated gloves and glove liners, as well as rubber safety blankets for additional insulation, may be used as protective equipment for high voltage electric work. Hard hats, steel-toed boots, and eye protection are all common pieces of personal protective equipment.