Utility linemen are on-call 24 hours a day, work in extreme heat and cold–all while handling high voltage electricity. They respond after tropical or ice storms repairing the mangled mess of wires and poles those events often leave behind.
Across the country, there is a growing need for more of them. The average age of utility linemen is 50, which means many will be retiring in a few years. Utilities across the country want more young people to take a look at the job, even though it is consistently one of the top ten most dangerous in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We caught up with linemen who work for Alabama Power. Because it is a large company there will typically be a number of people apply for entry level positions of Utility Assistant. From there, new hires can work up to the position of lineman. The problem is finding people who can cut it. Being afraid of heights can be a deal-breaker. One of the first tests new candidates are put there is climbing a metal pole with steps on it.
New linemen are also taught about electricity. As one told us, “you don’t get too many second chances to make a mistake.”
But if you don’t mind long hours and the hazards that come with the job, you can earn a comfortable living. Depending on the size of the company, location and other factors, linemen can make between $60 and $70 thousand a year or more plus overtime although salaries seem to be lower in Alabama. The median salary for utility linemen in the U.S. is about $72,600 according to Salary.com.