- Can you stay calm under stress?
- Are you physically fit and good with your hands?
- Do you like working outdoors?
- Are you able to think for yourself and work well with others?
- Do you like to travel?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Lineworker could be right for you.
Lineworkers build, maintain and repair overhead and underground electrical power lines.
They are employed by electric power generation and distribution companies, electrical contractors and public utility commissions.
As a Lineworker, your duties may include:
- Installing, maintaining and repairing overhead and underground electrical systems, including power lines and cables, and street lighting systems
- Connecting and insulating conductors and related wiring
- Climbing ladders or operating hydraulic buckets when working on poles and towers
The standard work week for lineworkers is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next. You may be required to work shifts and could be called on at any hour in an emergency.
As a Lineworker, you will usually work outdoors, both above and below ground, and with a team of other construction professionals. You may have to travel from one job to another. The work is very physical and requires heavy lifting, carrying and reaching, sometimes at considerable heights.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Lineworkers are trained to work safely and wear special equipment to protect against injury.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Lineworker, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 50 per cent of a journeyperson's hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for Lineworker apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must have a Grade 11 education or equivalent to enter a Lineworker apprenticeship program. You may find it helpful to have courses in math.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Lineworker.
Apprenticeship training programs for Lineworkers vary across Canada, but generally involve four 12-month periods, including at least 6,375 hours of on-the-job training, three seven-week blocks of technical training and a final certificate exam.
Related work experience or completion of a lineworker program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is required in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. It is available but voluntary in Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. Where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization. Check out our Related links to find out who to contact. Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended as it tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional, and it also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as a Lineworker, you usually need to complete a four-year apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
You may be eligible for certification in some provinces and territories if you have more than four years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses for Lineworkers.
As a certified Lineworker you may attempt the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a Lineworker anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, Lineworkers must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with others in their field.
Anticipated In-Demand Regions
- British Columbia
- Ontario - Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
More good stuff
33 years old and exhausted from working two jobs, Suzy Macke jumped at an opportunity for a Lineman apprenticeship program. Although she nailed the aptitude test, she came dead last in the field assessment. But she “really wanted that job.” So, she trained hard for a full year and went back. Today, she’s one of 15 women out of 2,411 lineworkers at her company and loving every minute of it.
If you’re a woman considering a career in the male-dominated skilled trades, check out her story for some great advice. And be sure to click on the link at the end, “trying to break into a male-dominated field,” for even more great advice.