Edison line workers have one of the higher-paying jobs that you can get with only a high school education. Salary variances across the country can differ by $30,000 and within California, can vary by $10,000 depending on whether you are working in the metropolitan area of a city or in a non-metropolitan area with challenging terrain, such as the mountains or the desert. Line workers in parts of Southern California enjoy the higher wage.
If you've ever had your power go out during a storm, the Edison line workers are the people you count on to work to get your power restored. Maintaining the electrical power grid is a dangerous and complex job. Line workers typically specialize and can either install or repair power lines. Depending on their specialty, they can work with from 10,000 volts of electricity to hundreds of thousands of volts. The median income for entry-level line workers in California, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $21.42 per hour. Entry-level workers in parts of Southern California earn more than the state average.
In Southern California, the highest-paid entry-level workers are in San Luis Obispo County, where workers in the lowest 10th percentile average $36.46 per hour. Kern County workers are next at $28.83. Metropolitan areas of Southern California start at lower wages, such as the Los Angeles area where starting salaries range from $16.36 to $16.65 per hour, which may reflect that linemen are repairing and upgrading systems rather than installing new ones. Entry-level line workers typically begin as apprentices and engage in classroom instruction and performance of low-level tasks such as ground work and tree-trimming. As their skills increase, their work assignments become more technical and they graduate to stringing cable and installing service for customers.
?To be a lineman, you must be able to read instructions and write reports, which requires knowledge of the English language. You should be mechanically inclined, understand algebra and trigonometry, be able to lift more than 50 pounds and have the stamina and strength to perform physically demanding tasks. You cannot be afraid of heights or confined spaces as you will encounter both in this job. College courses will not increase your entry-level salary in Southern California, because they are set by collective bargaining agreements. Safety regulations dictate the apprentice's path to become a journeymen and on-the-job training is the only path to the journeyman level.
Entry-level employees, once through the apprenticeship program that lasts from three to five years, could see their salary in Southern California increase from $36 an hour to $53 an hour. The best prospect for getting a job is in non-metropolitan areas with new development. Southern California Edison, in 2011, was upgrading its utilities throughout Southern California, to a smart grid system. The employment outlook for these occupations is very good as more workers in this industry are near retirement age than in other industries. The demanding nature of the work precludes incentives to keep these skilled workers on the job, which opens opportunities for entry-level workers.