Electrician Vs. Lineman

This article explores the typical duties of electricians and linemen. Median salaries, training requirements, duties and work environments are compared to demonstrate the similarities and differences between these careers.

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Comparing Electricians to Linemen

Electricians and linemen work with some similar equipment. Their work environment, typical duties and training differ. Electricians can expect slightly better job growth in their field while linemen earn higher salaries.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electricians High school diploma or GED, apprenticeship, license $52,720 9 %
Linemen High school diploma or GED and on-the-job training $62,650 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Electricians vs. Linemen

Electricians and linemen both spend part of their day traveling to worksites. One comparable task they perform is to run wires, although some linemen also run telecommunications cables. Electricians may install new electrical systems, wire new buildings or repair or replace existing systems. Linemen tend to specialize and focus either on putting in new wires and cables or performing repairs. Both jobs can involve climbing, working outdoors and performing tests on systems, although electricians may also work indoors part of the time. Some linemen also repair things like traffic lights.

Electricians

Electricians are the professionals who make sure that electrical systems work properly. They can work inside or outside. The majority of electricians are employed by electrical contractors while a small percentage of electricians work in manufacturing. They need to be physically fit and have the stamina needed to work long hours because daytime and evening and weekend work is normal for electricians. They typically start out as electricians' helpers or apprentices and learn this trade through years of on-the-job training before they are qualified to earn an electrician's license. They must travel to client homes and businesses to perform their duties.

Job responsibilities of an electrician include:

  • Running wires
  • Overseeing apprentices
  • Operating tools
  • Examining blueprints
  • Connecting systems to electric panels
  • Testing systems to ensure they work properly

Linemen

Linemen are also referred to as line workers or line installers and repairers. They are commonly employed by telecommunications companies or electric companies, although some also work for utility companies or the government. Most work outside and have to drive from location to location. It's normal for linemen to be required to work evenings and weekends sometimes and they may also need to work overtime during storms or when there are large power outages. They work with the cables and wiring systems that are used for communications systems and transferring electrical power.

Job responsibilities of a lineman include:

  • Checking power lines to ensure they work properly
  • Running cables and wires
  • Climbing up ladders, towers or poles
  • Riding in buckets to reach equipment at extreme heights
  • Responding to power outages to identify the source of an outage
  • Removing and replacing damaged equipment

Related Careers

If a career as an electrician or a lineman interests you then you may also want to explore the work that electrical engineering technicians and geothermal power plant operators do because these careers involve similar equipment and comparable tasks. Learn more about these alternate job options through the links below.

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