Electrical lineman in demand

Feb 20, 2014 6:11 PM

Some guys won't be held down by a bad economy. In fact, some are actually taking their careers to new heights—literally

At Northwest Lineman College in Oroville, students are up nearly 100 feet in the air on a transmission tower learning the tricks of the trade.

“They learn how to climb power poles. They learn how to change out insulators. They learn how to wire banks to transformers,” said Gene Smith, training manager at Northwest Lineman College.

The power delivery industry is booming and there’s a lot people looking to cash in on the demand for this growing profession.

“We’re at a 128 students and we have somewhere around 80 on the books waiting to come next semester,” Smith said.

Semesters last 15 weeks and cost about $12,000. Smith said the work is hard, the hours are long and the conditions are dangerous.

“It’s not for everyone,” he said. “You have to be physically fit in order to do this job. It’s one of those things you either going to love or you're going to hate the job.”

But for those who make a career of it, the payoff can be huge.

“When you're done here you're qualified to be an apprentice lineman and it takes about 31/2 to 4 years to become a journeyman lineman,” Smith said. “At the time you can be looking at wages anywhere from $100,000 to 300,000 dollars a year--depending where you're working and how many hours you're putting in.”

If you want to check out these guys in action, they're hosting a climb-a-thon at the Northwest Lineman College campus in Oroville Saturday, March 8. All proceeds will benefit Shriners Hospital.


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