Were you the kid who loved climbing trees and never looked down? You might be perfectly suited to work as an electrical lineman. One of the biggest challenges of doing this job is that linemen have to climb poles and work high in the air, so being comfortable with heights is a must. It's a high-pressure, physically demanding job, but one that has major benefits – especially financially.
Electrical linemen work hard so the rest of the world can relax with their lights, TV and air conditioning. They install and repair the cable systems that carry electricity from power plants to each building's meter box. It's hard, physical work; lineman climb utility poles and work with high-voltage electricity far above the ground, connecting cables and repairing equipment. And while linemen typically work set hours, they also have to report for duty after hurricanes, blizzards and other severe storms knock out power. Those shifts can be long, stressful and dangerous.
One of the things that make this job so appealing to many young people is that it doesn't have strict educational requirements. A four-year degree isn't necessary – becoming a lineman is something you do through on-the-job experience. Candidates who have their high school diplomas can start out as apprentices, spending several years learning from experienced linemen. There's no lineman school cost; in fact, apprentices get paid while they work. (Get started by contacting your local IBEW, or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, to find out how to apply for an apprenticeship.)
The second thing that makes this job appealing? The relatively high lineman salary. As of May 2017, a lineman's median pay was $64,190 per year, or $30.86 per hour. That means that half of all linemen earn more than that, and half earn less. Depending on the state you work in, you may earn significantly more than that amount even near the beginning of your career.
Wherever there are utility poles, there are linemen somewhere nearby – which is to say, they work in every county in every state, from rural areas to major cities.
Years of Experience
In this industry, putting in 10 or 20 years isn't the only path to a higher salary. Even linemen in their 20s can be made foremen, while older linemen may not have the skills or desire to move to that position of responsibility. So your salary will really depend on how well suited you are to the field, and how hard you work.
Location is the other major factor. In California, the state with the highest pay for this profession, the average lineman salary is $94,730, as of 2018. Oregon, Alaska, Connecticut and Washington are other states with high pay for linemen.
Job Growth Trend
Linemen work in a recession-proof industry. As long as the current electrical system exists, there will be a need for linemen. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the industry will grow by 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is an average growth rate.