Cable pullers support the work of electricians in construction and renovation jobs, primarily by running cable through ductwork and behind walls. They install the panel boxes and junction boxes where electricians make their connections, and they run cable through rigid conduit piping and on transmission towers. Working under the direction and supervision of electricians, they also perform several other tasks, such as holding or supplying materials, tools and equipment, and cleaning the work area and equipment. A cable puller may also be called an apprentice electrician or an electrician’s helper.
Education, Training and Experience
You can typically apply for a job as a cable puller if you have a high school education. However, any prior experience in construction or renovation work will be helpful. There are no specific training courses dedicated to becoming a cable puller, and most in this position learn their craft through on-the-job training. For many cable pullers, this on-the-job training goes hand-in-hand with earning an electrician's license.
Tasks and Tools
In addition to standard hand tools, cable pullers sometimes use specialized tools to measure and cut electrical and other cable to be installed in houses and other construction. The cables may run for up to several thousand feet in large projects, and cable pullers must be able to climb ladders and carry up to 50 pounds of cable in the process. When installing cable behind existing walls, they often use fish tape to pull cable through ductwork or other pathways behind walls. In industrial settings like factories and warehouses, they often must cut and bend metal conduit to precise specifications. Cable pullers also perform a broad range of related tasks, such as servicing and repairing the tools and equipment used on the job.
Work Environment and Abilities
Because much of a cable puller’s work is on construction sites, the work environment is often hazardous and requires a high degree of alertness and knowledge of safety equipment and precautions, especially those related to working with electrical circuits that are sometimes energized. Cable pullers should have good communication and listening skills, as they frequently must share information and receive instructions regarding ongoing tasks.
Occupational Outlook and Earning Potential
The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted an analysis in 2012 that projected the number of cable puller jobs to expand by about 37 percent by 2022, a rate significantly higher than the 11 percent projected for American job growth in general. The average hourly wage for cable pullers in 2013 was $13.91 per hour, or $28,920 annually.
2016 Salary Information for Construction Laborers and Helpers
Construction laborers and helpers earned a median annual salary of $32,750 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, construction laborers and helpers earned a 25th percentile salary of $26,140, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $43,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,449,400 people were employed in the U.S. as construction laborers and helpers.