While many well-paying professions require job seekers to have a college education to qualify for entry-level positions, there are some occupations, such as being an electrician, that can provide you with a good salary without earning an undergraduate degree. If you have a knack for technical topics, love working outdoors and want to have a career in a growing industry, you should consider becoming an outside lineman, a specialty in the electrical work field. The following guide outlines the path to obtaining qualifications and experience for the job.
Meet the Prerequisites
If you are an adult with a high school diploma or a GED, you meet the minimum education requirements to enter a lineman training program. If your education did not include math beyond pre-algebra, you should take an Algebra course to help you succeed in basic electrician training courses that include math topics.
Some programs also require applicants to take aptitude tests. In addition, you may be required to have a valid driver's license and pass a drug screening test.
Since being a lineman requires a lot of outside work in extreme weather, maneuvering heavy-duty equipment and climbing poles, it is important that you are in excellent physical condition with no major health issues.
Find a Training Program
Technical training institutes, community colleges and government-sponsored vocational programs offer lineman training. Your education will involve a mix of classroom training and on the job experience as an apprentice.
Some schools offer online classes to help you fulfill your coursework so you can work at your own pace. Your basic training will include topics on electrical circuits and systems, installation of electrical devices, wiring, grounding, safety and electrical codes. Depending on where you enroll, you may also be able to take electives in your specialty.
Complete an Apprenticeship
After you complete your preliminary coursework, you need to complete an apprenticeship to obtain hands-on lineman training.
The apprenticeship will teach you how to build, repair and maintain power lines and transformers that deliver electricity from power plants to homes and businesses. You will also learn safety techniques for climbing up poles, moving around high-power substations and handling underground wires. You will work with crews of lineman to learn the craft and get feedback on your work.
Many programs will help you find a multi-year apprenticeship with private companies or labor organizations. Local branches of organizations like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) also sponsor apprenticeships for students in technical training programs.
Earn Certifications and Apply for Licenses
If you attend a technical institute or a community college, when you finish your classes and apprenticeship, you may receive a certificate or diploma as proof that you successfully completed your training.
When you are ready to enter the workforce, you also need to be licensed. Each state sets its own licensing requirements for electrician certification. Generally, you must complete a certain number of hours working as an apprentice, take an exam and pay a fee in order to obtain a license.
If you need help studying for your licensing exam, some training institutes also provide test prep or sell exam prep materials. Your state may offer free test prep materials as well.
If you move to another state, you may not have to apply for a new license in your new locale if your old state and new state have a reciprocity program.
Even after you begin working as a lineman, you need to keep your credentials up-to-date. States require you to take continuing education (CE) classes as part of periodic license renewals. You can return to your training program to take continuing education classes in your field or complete in-person or online seminars offered by industry organizations and government agencies to earn CE credits for your license renewal.