I got to spend the day working with the high voltage electricians today. They were short of men and needed some guys to do some donkey work so I volunteered to go along with a cable jointer and help out where I could. I always enjoy helping the high voltage electricians as the work they do is so different from my daily life as a normal sparky.
As we were all chatting away, one of the cable jointers declared they wanted to make the leap (pun intended) to the overhead lineman side of the business. After much ribbing about how often he’d fall from the poll, the topic of conversation weaved between the pros and cons of being a power lineman.
I thought this would make for an interesting article for readers, so decided to put pen to paper (or mash keyboard keys to be more precise) to give readers a brief overview of the main good and bad points that got brought up about being a lineman. Enjoy!
Pros And Cons Of Being A Power Lineman
Like any other job or line of work, there are numerous pros and cons to pursuing a career as an electrical lineman. The pros and advantages of working as a lineman include higher wages, medical benefits, job security, and being part of a well-organized community to name a few.
On the other hand, there will always be cons. The risks that come with the job can be viewed as cons since electrical hazards, falls, and mistakes can lead to severe injuries or death. Late hours, early hours, on-call hours, weather-related power outages, and other events that are not necessarily in the lineman’s control also create disadvantages in the career choice.
It goes without saying that any career’s pros and cons can vary from person to person since perspectives do not have to be the same. What one lineman enjoys about their job; another may not view as a rewarding part of the day’s work.
When reading try to keep an open mind there’s is only so much one can learn from a blog post! There is no substitute for getting out there in the world and trying something! So if you are trying to decide if being a power lineman is the job for you, my advice (for what it’s worth) would be to read the pros and cons, weigh them up, then completely ignore them and go with your gut feeling; after all, what have you really got to lose.
Pros Of Being A Lineman
Depending on the perspective of the person being asked, there are plenty of pros to working as a lineman.
A lineman provides a unique opportunity to be the local hero for those who like solving problems and superhero stories. When the power goes out just as dinner is getting prepared, someone is always called out to solve the problem and turn the power back on, saving the family from eating a cold meal.
The Great Outdoors
Outdoor enthusiasts may view a lineman job as an adventure. Being able to work outside, harnessing into their safety gear, and climbing to the top of power poles, towers, and other structures can feel like an adrenaline rush. Working in all four weather seasons makes the job more adventurous as new and changing elements keep the day interesting. I have found great wet weather gear, such as these coats on amazon to be invaluable at making the working day much more enjoyable.
Travel and Adventure
Those who enjoy travelling to new areas have opportunities to travel for out-of-town projects or be temporarily relocated for longer-term assignments. Experiencing new locations, different speeds of life, breathtaking sceneries, and meeting new people can be an eye-opener and exhilarating feeling.
Endless Career Opportunities
Career advancement is another pro to being a lineman. With each job, project, company, and year that passes, there are skills acquired that can only be mentioned and verbally explained in the classroom. With every step of advancement, you are not only helping yourself but also helping those who are learning from you and alongside you. Real-world experience is what sets apart a good lineman and a wannabe.
Peak Physical Condition
Mental and physical strength may not be the first, second, or even fifth thought when considering what the pros of a lineman career will include, but they are a must to maintain employment. Working with heavy cables, hauling gear, climbing poles, and sometimes working long days beyond the traditional eight-hour workday requires body strength and stamina. Mental health is crucial to winning against fatigue, avoiding simple mistakes, and understanding the dangers of high-voltage job sites.
For most, the icing on the top of the pros comes in wages and benefits. As an apprentice, the pay is milder than journeymen and crew leaders, but it is still an above-average annual income of around $42,000. Overtime hours, which there will be plenty, will only increase the yearly take-home pay from $42,000 up.
As a journeyman, it should be expected to see a base salary jump of at least $30,000, bringing the new take-home pay upwards of $72,000 or more. Crew leaders are known to earn an extra $10,000 or more than journeymen. Overtime pay is still awarded to higher-level line workers, easily making an annual income close to six figures.
Also See: What Being a Power Lineman Is Like
Disadvantages Of Being A Lineman
As mentioned earlier, every pro will have a con. While some disadvantages may be what breaks the thought of becoming a lineman, it is best to consider both sides before throwing in the towel.
A few of the top disadvantages of being a power lineman include mandatory climbing. Anyone afraid of heights should not apply for lineman school. It might not be every day, but more times than not, a lineman will work above ground level, sometimes hundreds of feet in the air.
Due to the risks of falling and the hazards of working with high-voltage cables, lineman work is among the ten most dangerous jobs in the construction industry.
While it is a pro for a select group of linemen, the thought of adventure and hero work is not quite as appealing as it sounds in the movies. Working in all kinds of weather, from rain to sunshine, snow, or sleet storms and temperatures that range from the 100s to the negative numbers, some circumstances are too far in the left field for the non-weather tolerant to handle.
Responding to power outages in the middle of the night during a blizzard might cause a fan of hero films to rethink their life choices and keep their cape locked up in the closet. As mentioned previously, I have found these coats to be a lifesaver in adverse working conditions.
Hard to Get a Foot in the Door
Slow job growth is a contributor to career disadvantages. While it is a pro for the excellent pay, benefits, and career advancement, that is not the same as career growth. Those already working in the industry can keep their job and move forward in their position and company.
However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that linework will not meet the estimated five percent job growth like other trades. This means it will be more difficult to find an apprenticeship, and those re-renting the industry may find it challenging to find an open position within a desired company.
Stress and being uncomfortable for extended periods can alter a person’s perspective on being a lineman. Harnessed to a pole, stretching for heavy high-voltage cables, and trying to reach the tool hanging from your belt simultaneously, can create an environment that does not resemble peace and tranquility.
Furthermore, going through a mental checklist while pulling cables and monitoring power connections can add more stress. Throw in the variants of Mother Nature’s mood that day or night, and it could be the best or worst shift of the week, month, year, or career.
Whilst we can learn some titbits about a job from reading through posts and chatting to those in the know, we can never know how a job is going to be until we take up the challenge and go for it. The pros and cons of being a power lineman may have put you off or they may have inspired you. My guess is that anyone reading this post already feels like they need to give it a go so maybe put more mental weight in the good points than the bad.
We must try to remember that perspective creates the belief in whether something is potentially a good situation or a bad situation. The pros and cons of being a lineman are up to each person. What may be a pro for you could be a con for someone else and what is a con for you could very well be a pro for them.