Lineman have an important job – they make sure the flow of electricity never stops. But this job really is a dangerous job – working with high voltage electricity, several stories high, in severe weather – this is a job only for those who have the stomach for it.
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Job description: Electricity linemen have a dangerous job – to install and repair the power lines of the electricity network. This job requires specialized skills to handle electric lines properly and safely, without causing damage to the electric line itself or having the lineman injuring himself. Lineman must be able to handle heavy equipment, be technically savvy, and be comfortable working at heights or in cramped spaces.
Work environment: The environment of this job make it even more difficult – not only do linemen handle high voltage electricity (up to thousands of volts), but this is done outdoors, and at heights of 2 or 3 stories above the ground. This is a physically demanding job, which requires handling heavy equipment, kneeling, crouching and working in physically uncomfortable positions. Linemen operate in all types of weather conditions, at all times – whenever they are needed.
Fatality rates: This job once had a huge fatality rate of 25% in the early days of electrical energy, but today the rate is much lower. Fatalities are rare, but still happen, and this job is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America.
Gender: This is a male dominated occupation.
What makes it a dangerous job: Linemen face several dangers – the largest being electrocution. Strict safety measures are taken, such as the use of protective clothing and at times the power is shut down on the line to avoid any injuries. Also, since the job is done at heights, falls are the second largest danger. Linemen use safety equipment to minimize the risk of falling, such as ropes and harnesses.
Hours / Lifestyle: Lineman can expect to work on shifts or more traditional hours – depending if they work for a local or interstate companies. Most lineman can expect to be on call, even when not at work. Also, overtime and long hours can be expected, especially in bad weather conditions, as linemen repair electric lines after or during storms.
Pay: This is one of the highest paying jobs for non college or high school graduates, averaging an annual $57k, or $27.6 an hour wage.
Requirements: Physical fitness is a must, and so is the ability to work at heights, in all types of weather. Lineman must also be able to work in confined spaces, and not be color blind – so that they can distinguish different colored electric cables. Most companies require a high school diploma – but this is not a must.
Training: Most training is done on the job by the employer. Some of this training can last up to 5 years, and it includes classroom courses as well as accompanying and learning from seasoned linemen. During training – severe safety measures are the norm.
Career opportunities: There are not many career opportunities for linemen. Apprentice lineman begin by learning from skilled linemen, and performing simple tasks like cutting down tree branches. As they progress, they can tackle more difficult tasks, until after several years they are considered qualified linemen. Experienced linemen can become training instructors or supervisors.
Job opportunities: Usually in urban areas large enough to justify linemen.
Job prospects: The forecast for linemen is a slower than average growth rate, but prospects should be plentiful, as older linemen reach retirement, or can no longer perform this physically demanding job.
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