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Any power linemen?

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Old 04-05-2013, 10:15 AM   #1
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Any power linemen?

Been thinking really hard about going to trade school for this. Seems like a fun and very rewarding career to get into and the guys get to be outside all day long which would be ideal since I am about as far from an indoor office person as it gets. I am just curious to know how you worked your way into the trade and how difficult it was, I hear it is really competitive. Also what are the pros and cons aside from the possibility of being electrocuted on the job? Really seems like a interesting and fun trade, please share your thoughts if you are in this field!
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:41 PM   #2
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First off, BEST JOB EVER!!!!

I've worked at a local electric co-op here in southern AZ for almost 7 years now. I started as a lineman's helper, or "grunt", and worked my way up. I started my 4 year apprenticeship in 2008 and became a journeyman lineman last summer. In my opinion, it is one of the most rewarding fields in this country. There is very little chance of being subject to lay-offs, the pay is excellent, and you're constantly working someplace different. I'm with you on the indoor office thing, I'd probably go "postal" if I had to work indoors

Another consideration, there's different "types" of linework you can do; transmission, distribution, overhead or underground etc. A lot of utilities have all of the above, some are only distribution, like my co-op, and some are all transmission. Some have either all overhead and no underground, a bit of both, or are all underground. These aspects can make a lineman's work very diverse.

Here's my take on the pros/cons of line work:

Pros:
-Most companies offer excellent benefits and perks.
-Extremely high paying ($75,000-$200,000/yr, depending on where/how much you work).
-One of the only fields in this country that has this payscale without 5+ years of college.
-Very important occupation, helping keep our modern electric world running (there wouldn't be a Tacoma World without electricity, let alone a lot of other modern conveniences).
-A career you can be proud of.

Cons:
-apprenticeships are tough, you will be treated like a piece of crap at times.
-A lot of time has to be invested into an apprenticeship.
-Can be very physically demanding at times and is very rough on a person's body.
-IS very dangerous, no question about that. And not just because of the electrocution potential.
-Often work long and irregular hours, which means missing special events and family occasions.
-Having to work in any bad weather condition you can think of is a guarantee.

If I was you, I'd go for it. It's one of the coolest jobs out there. Not everybody can say they handle thousands of volts and defy danger for a living
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:45 PM   #3
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I've done thousands of hours of line work, fun and rewarding, pays extremely well also. Electrocution / shock hazard is pretty much non-existent due to high OSHA regulations regarding safety, plus the pole trucks / bucket trucks are insulated.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Large View Post
Electrocution / shock hazard is pretty much non-existent due to high OSHA regulations regarding safety, plus the pole trucks / bucket trucks are insulated.
I lost a friend to this. He died inside the "insulated" bucket.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:50 PM   #5
Red
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miacevedo View Post
I lost a friend to this. He died inside the "insulated" bucket.
Then it wasn't insulated, or rated for the voltage he was working on, or had some type of damage to it hendering it's integrity.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepAndrew View Post
I'm sorry to hear that Was it shock related? Arc flash?
He was in the bucket drilling holes for riser struts. I guess he was using a 120Vac Drill with an extension cord to the truck which was grounded through the outriggers. The contact was made from a 12 KV primary on a pole that he was not working on to his shoulder.

The primary was several feet away from the new pole they were transferring from, plenty of spread, but accidental contact was made. There were people on the ground, but they went back to the yard to get more material for the job, and that was when it happened.

Just because OSHA has high standards on safety, does not mean accidents do not happen.
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miacevedo View Post
He was in the bucket drilling holes for riser struts. I guess he was using a 120Vac Drill with an extension cord to the truck which was grounded through the outriggers. The contact was made from a 12 KV primary on a pole that he was not working on to his shoulder.

The primary was several feet away from the new pole they were transferring from, plenty of spread, but accidental contact was made. There were people on the ground, but they went back to the yard to get more material for the job, and that was when it happened.

Just because OSHA has high standards on safety, does not mean accidents do not happen.
Wow, that's crazy. They used to allow 120 volt corded tools in the buckets here until a guy forgot he was trailing extension cord and got it into 25kv primary underbuild underneath him. He got lucky and had no injuries, the inverter on the truck blew up and caught the truck on fire. That was the end of corded tools after that.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:21 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the info guys, it definitely sounds like a lot of fun! Are apprenticeships hard to get into or would I need to go to trade school for awhile? I think being a journeyman would be the best, I love to travel around and see new things. And like Jeep Andrew said, it is practically recession proof work if you are good at it.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:17 AM   #11
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im currently a third year apprentice lineman out of Gunnison Colorado. went to line school in Colorado springs (rocky mountain line school) awesome career! I love every second of it. and regardless of what large says even though the bucket is insulated and tested you can still complete the path to ground in the bucket by toughing your body on something grounded (pole, guy wire, pole ground, neutral) and accidently coming in contact with an energized phase with another body part. then the path is completed and your dead, their is a lot of regulation and osha rules but theirs a reason its one of the deadliest jobs in the world. human error kills every day! if you have any qs ill be happy to answer them!
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logan1992 View Post
im currently a third year apprentice lineman out of Gunnison Colorado. went to line school in Colorado springs (rocky mountain line school) awesome career! I love every second of it. and regardless of what large says even though the bucket is insulated and tested you can still complete the path to ground in the bucket by toughing your body on something grounded (pole, guy wire, pole ground, neutral) and accidently coming in contact with an energized phase with another body part. then the path is completed and your dead, their is a lot of regulation and osha rules but theirs a reason its one of the deadliest jobs in the world. human error kills every day! if you have any qs ill be happy to answer them!
What was the schooling like? I am only concerned about math because I am not the best at it, is there any hard math tests involved? Also how long did it take to complete?
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #13
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you do have to do a math course in the school i wen to . it was not to difficult because all the math you learn can be applied to the work your doing so it makes a lot more sense than math you would learn say in high school. i wouldn't worry about the math, their will always be someone who can help you out with it. the school i wen to was a six month school. it is one of many schools you can attend some ranging from six months to 2 years. generally the shorter the school the more condensed it is. its a great career to get into, and has a high demand for workers so its pretty easy to get a job in the field. once you get a job you will have to serve as an apprentice for 4 years (schooling usually counts as one) throughout the 4 years you will have to do bookwork that gets harder and achieve a certain amount of hours of line work before you can test and become a journeyman. the apprentiships are all paid usually starting around 55k a year (25 dollars an hour) with awesome benefits and retirement and slowly moving up through your 4 year apprentiship until you achieve journeyman status which usually is atround 80 k a year or 40 dollars an hour. this all depends on the company and state of course but that is the average. if you work transmission which is usually 115,000 volts or higher than the pay is a little greater but you usually have to travel. one of the cool things about the trade is that you can rack up a lot of overtime. if you like to work outside and with your hands than its a great trade.
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by logan1992 View Post
you do have to do a math course in the school i wen to . it was not to difficult because all the math you learn can be applied to the work your doing so it makes a lot more sense than math you would learn say in high school. i wouldn't worry about the math, their will always be someone who can help you out with it. the school i wen to was a six month school. it is one of many schools you can attend some ranging from six months to 2 years. generally the shorter the school the more condensed it is. its a great career to get into, and has a high demand for workers so its pretty easy to get a job in the field. once you get a job you will have to serve as an apprentice for 4 years (schooling usually counts as one) throughout the 4 years you will have to do bookwork that gets harder and achieve a certain amount of hours of line work before you can test and become a journeyman. the apprentiships are all paid usually starting around 55k a year (25 dollars an hour) with awesome benefits and retirement and slowly moving up through your 4 year apprentiship until you achieve journeyman status which usually is atround 80 k a year or 40 dollars an hour. this all depends on the company and state of course but that is the average. if you work transmission which is usually 115,000 volts or higher than the pay is a little greater but you usually have to travel. one of the cool things about the trade is that you can rack up a lot of overtime. if you like to work outside and with your hands than its a great trade.
Yep and those are exactly what I wanna do. Starting out on 55k sure ain't bad. Best I've ever made is 11 dollars an hour haha. Sure there's lots of gruntwork involved as an apprentice, but I am in good physical shape and can do some pretty physically demanding work. I was a concrete laborer for a while and there are few jobs out there I personally believe could be much more demanding than it is.

I am pretty excited about it, and can't wait until I am there. Getting a career started is the only real drawback in my life right now and once I do get there, I will be content. Wont worry about starting a family at least until I am 30 and well on my feet financially. Thanks for all the advice man, you've been most helpful!
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:29 AM   #15
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i have 10 or 12 friends that went the linemen route, they all love it, 3 of them are currently in west texas 2 of which are getting their years of apprenticeship to become journeymen.
at least 5 of my friends found work in norcal, and a few found work in the LA area.
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