California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers in San Diego County

May also be called: Electrical Linemen; Electrical Line Workers; Linemen; Line Workers; and Power Linemen

What Would I Do?

Every time you turn on a light, charge your cell phone, or plug anything into an electrical outlet, you are tapping into a complex network of power lines and cables. Power lines go across the country, connecting power plants to homes and businesses. Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairs set up and maintain power lines in order to keep the lights on in our homes and offices.

Spotting an Electrical-Power Line Installer and Repairer can be easy when they are high above the ground. They repair power lines and trim tree branches that may interfere with the electrical lines. When climbing up poles or standing in basket lifts, they must rely on their safety equipment and tools in order to keep them safe from electrocution or falls. Not all power lines are located above ground, on the tops of poles or towers. In some locations, power lines are buried underground, out of public view, requiring Line Workers to dig up the ground in order to reach them. Digging holes for power line poles and setting them up is also the responsibility of Electrical Line Workers.

Working with electricity, while in confined spaces or high above the ground can pose a risk for serious injury. Written and verbal communication between team members working together on-site or with individuals working in offices or command centers is very important. Effective communication allows the work to be performed in a safe manner.

Electrical-Power Line Installer and Repairer work for utility companies or construction companies. Depending on the company, the duties performed by Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers may be very specialized. Some may only focus on setting up new lines or repairing damaged lines. Others may perform both installations and repairs. Those who specialize in installation generally start a new job by digging trenches or erecting poles. They use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, which are trucks equipped with augers and cranes used to dig holes in the ground and set poles in place. They also use trenchers, cable plows, and borers, which are used to cut openings in the earth for the laying of underground conduits or cables. Once the infrastructure is in place, they install cable onto poles, through conduit, and directly in trenches. Line Installers test the new power lines to make sure that the system is working correctly.

Severe weather and general wear and tear are the most common reasons power lines require maintenance and repair. Remote monitoring stations and customer reports of service outages notify Line Repairers of problems. Once an issue is identified, Electrical-Power Line Installer and Repairer must cut off electricity to power lines and repair them in a timely manner.

The electrical grid has remained largely unchanged since its invention. An emphasis on alternative energy sources and energy conservation will require Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairers to lay new cable that is able to incorporate residential solar panels, electrical car charging ports, and smart grid technologies that may not be compatible with the current electrical grid.

Tools and Technology

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers use a variety of tools in the course of their work including cable cutting, stripping, and splicing tools. They also use shears, tampers, saws, levels, screwdrivers, cable reels, bucket trucks, derricks, and trenching machines. They may also use e-mail, word processing and spreadsheet software, smart phones, and tablet computers.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Adhere to safety practices and procedures, such as checking equipment regularly and erecting barriers around work areas.Public Safety and Security
Climb poles or use truck-mounted buckets to access equipment.Multilimb Coordination
Cut trenches for laying underground cables, using trenchers and cable plows.Static Strength
Open switches or attach grounding devices to remove electrical hazards from disturbed or fallen lines or to facilitate repairs.Complex Problem Solving
Install watt-hour meters and connect service drops between power lines and consumers' facilities.Building and Construction
Coordinate work assignment preparation and completion with other workers.Active Listening
String wire conductors and cables between poles, towers, trenches, pylons, and buildings, setting lines in place and using winches to adjust tension.Deductive Reasoning
Test conductors, according to electrical diagrams and specifications, to identify corresponding conductors and to prevent incorrect connections.Troubleshooting
Replace or straighten damaged poles.Repairing
Dig holes, using augers, and set poles, using cranes and power equipment.Manual Dexterity
Trim trees that could be hazardous to the functioning of cables or wires.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Identify defective sectionalizing devices, circuit breakers, fuses, voltage regulators, transformers, switches, relays, or wiring, using wiring diagrams and electrical-testing instruments.Mechanical
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

The work of Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairers can be physically demanding. Electrical Line Workers should not be afraid of heights and should be able to maintain balance. Upper body strength for climbing up poles or digging ditches is also useful. They should be able to work within confined spaces, such as underground tunnels, while stooping or kneeling. Electrical Line Workers should be able to lift at least 50 pounds and identify different color wires. A California driver license is often necessary since the job may require workers to drive utility vehicles and travel long distances. Some Installers are independent contractors who travel from job site to job site.

Construction and maintenance of underground and overhead electrical lines is done year-round, in all forms of weather. Electrical Line Workers typically work a 40-hour week. They may be required to work overtime or on weekends during emergencies or severe weather conditions. During an emergency repair, workers may experience physical and mental stress due to long work hours and difficult working conditions.

Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairers must follow proper safety procedures in order to reduce the risk of injury. They must wear safety equipment when entering utility holes and working in ditches. When working on poles, they must use fall-protection equipment, such as safety harnesses, belts, and hardhats. They must also follow proper safety guidelines when operating heavy machinery. Many employers provide tools and uniforms, but it is not uncommon for workers to purchase their own.

Many workers and apprentices belong to unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairers may appeal to those who enjoy working on projects that require practical, hands-on problems and solutions. This occupation may interest those who are attentive to detail and thorough in completing work tasks. In addition, those who like being outside, working closely with others in a team may enjoy this occupation.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers in California vary depending on job duties, work experience, type of industry, and location of the work. Workers in large cities usually earn higher wages than those who work in smaller towns and rural areas.

Wages

The median wage in 2015 for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers in California was $103,843 annually, or $49.92 hourly. The median wage for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers in San Diego County was $104,979 annually, or $50.47 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$77,974$103,843$115,161
San Diego County$58,128$104,979$116,793
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Benefit packages vary widely from company to company. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers generally receive health insurance, vacation, sick leave, and paid holidays. The type of benefit package is determined by company policy or union contract.

What is the Job Outlook?

Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers should experience increased job opportunities as new homes and business are built and will need power lines in order to provide them with electricity. The majority of job openings will occur due to the need to replace workers who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the labor force.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers are expected to increase by 15.5 percent, or 1,100 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers are expected to increase by 28.1 percent, or 360 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
7,1008,2001,10015.52,500
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
1,2801,64036028.1440
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 120 new job openings per year is expected for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers, plus an additional 250 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 360 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 36 new job openings per year is expected for Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers, plus an additional 44 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 80 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
120250360
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
364480
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Most employers prefer to hire applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers are willing to train entry-level helpers on the job. Completing an apprenticeship program, or completing trade or vocational school improves employment opportunities.

Formal apprenticeship programs require applicants to be at least 18 years of age. A high school diploma or equivalent is required along with one year of high school algebra. Applicants must be physically able to perform all phases of the work, which include lifting heavy materials in all types of weather.

Early Career Planning

High school preparation courses in English, Spanish, mathematics, mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, and wood and metal shop are helpful for students interested in becoming Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers.

Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs

Apprentices learn their trade while working on the job. They also attend classes for technical instruction. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers’ apprenticeship programs require that applicants be a minimum of 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and have completed one year of high school level algebra. Possession of a valid California driver license is strongly recommended. Apprentices must buy their own hand tools and climbing tools. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.

Licensing

Employees work under the license of the employer or contractor. Those wishing to enter self-employment as a contractor must obtain a contractor’s license through the Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board. Refer to "Other Sources" or contact the agency that issues the license for additional information.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Electrical Power-Line Installers and Electrical Power-Line Repairers.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Natural Gas Distribution 29.4%
Power Generation and Supply 26.6%
Utility System Construction 23.6%
Local Government 13.2%
Building Equipment Contractors 2.7%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers, trade publications, and Internet job listings. Union members generally search for work by registering with their local hiring hall. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers.

  • Electric Companies
  • Electrical Power Systems-Maintenance
  • Utility Companies

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Increased skills make Electrical-Power Line Installers and Repairers more valuable to the employer. Long-term on-the-job experience may lead to specialty and supervisory positions. Larger companies may provide opportunities to work in administrative positions.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and RelayProfile
Helpers--ElectriciansProfile
Telecommunications Line Installers and RepairersGuide

Other Sources

  • California Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State Licensing Board
         www.cslb.ca.gov
  • California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards
         www.dir.ca.gov/das
  • California Nevada Joint Apprenticeship Committee
         www.calnevjatc.org
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
         www.ibew.org
  • National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
         www.njatc.org

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification49-9051
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers49-9051.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RIC
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Electrical & Power Transmission Installation/Installer, Gene460301
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Electrical Systems and Power Transmission093440